Addazio: Man Down, Roll On

The Florida offense has had its share of adversity this young season. In the SEC opener, four of the five starting skill positions either missed the game or played through serious sickness and injury. In Lexington, starting quarterback Tim Tebow left the game with a concussion. This week, part time starter at left tackle, Matt Patchan is now out for the season. The games still have to be played.

Florida offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio wouldn't talk about the injury to Matt Patchan which Urban Meyer was announcing some 50 feet away as a torn ACL in his knee and he would be out for the rest of the season. It is one of a line of injuries and illnesses that the offense has had to endure in this early season. But one he will have to adjust his line to deal with.

Addazio talked a little bit about what he can do now with the line since Patchan will be gone.

"The rotation...there will be no rotation," Addazio laughed in an attempt to point out the fact he doesn't want any more guys to go down. "You have the ability to put Mike Pouncey (starting guard) if you want to, then I would put (true freshman) Xavier Nixon out there. Xavier has worked real hard today (along with Nick Alajajian), so we are going to tap into those young guys."

Mike and Maurkice Pouncey have been invaluable players since they arrived on campus in the spring of 2007. Maurkice has started every game of his college career on the offensive line either at center or at guard. Mike played some as a freshman guard, then started a few games at defensive tackle. As a sophomore, he started all 14 games for the Gators at guard. As a junior he has played both left and right guard and center already this season. Now, he may be asked to play at tackle.

"I wasn't joking about Mike, I rolled him a little bit today (at left tackle) and kept that versatility going," Addazio said. "That is the way it is, life in the SEC, we better get ready."

Addazio went on about the Pounceys and their versatility after being mainstays on the interior of the offensive line.

"I think they can definitely play outside," Addazio sad of the twin juniors from Lakeland. "I think they are best inside, but they can absolutely play out there. There is no question. They are big dudes, very athletic, and great feet. These guys have total command of the offense.

He likened them to one of the best offensive lineman he has ever coached and from his days at Notre Dame.

"Jeff Faine was a guy like that but did not have the versatility positionally," Addazio said. "These guys have great feet and have the versatility."

Addazio also has a healthy James Wilson and Maurice Hurt to choose from at guard. Regardless of which one starts, they both will see a lot of time from here forward.

"They both have to play," Addazio said of Wilson and Hurt. "I knew that going in and I could see it last week. We played a really fast and explosive tempo and that really helped us during the game.

Despite the loss of Patchan, which is a big deal, he still likes his group.

"We are trying to be as versatile as we can be right now," he said. "From tackle to tackle this is a really good offensive line."

If there is a knock on a Florida offense that is currently ranked third in college football,it is the lack of a consistent passing game. Addazio says that has had more to do with things out of their control and a running game that has really flourished at 307 yards per game.

"You want to stay balanced," he said. "Deonte Thompson is back so we have some health back in that receiving corps. That gives you an opportunity to utilize it. It's not like we don't want to be balanced, We start out really balanced in the beginning then we had some injuries and we were going to do whatever we had to do to win that game. The flow of the game dictates that."

Thompson has been sidelined since the second game of the season when he pulled up with a hamstring injury on a long touchdown pass. Addazio is happy to have him back and he believes Thompson will help compliment a receiving corps that now looks to be at full strength.

"It gives us another vertical threat," he said. "Now you have Coop (Riley Cooper) who has great speed, you have Deonte with great speed, Brandon James, and Aaron Hernandez. I think it makes a lot of difference."

Getting the ball to the receivers in the passing game is something the staff is looking to do more of and knows that presenting a balanced attack will only help. Not being able to throw the ball in the SEC could be a recipe for disaster.

"It could be hard," Addazio said if an offense couldn't pass the ball in the SEC. "The one thing we have is we have triple option football. If you were stuck in an I-formation running game with no throws, you have problems. If they load the box, you are done. At least with an option game, they have to play option assignment football."

"That's not our deal. Our deal is being balanced. Our deal is to spread the field. You have to adjust, but it is real important to us to maintain the integrity and make you have to defend the whole field vertically and horizontally."

"We always want to be a tough hard nosed, rock them off the ball, with the ability to run the football, but we want to be able to throw it and stay balanced...which we do."

"You play the cards you have. If we have the ability to get up and run the football and dominating the run game, that is a great thing. But, you have to have balance. We had injuries and issues, so we can't say 'hey let's be 50/50 and chuck it around'. We aren't going to do that. We have a great defense and great special teams, and we could run the football. If it was a flip situation, we would throw the football, run the football, we will do what we have to do. All things equal, keep some balance to what we are doing."

"You can't stick your head in the sand, the reality is we have to make them defend the whole field. They have to against us and they will because we have those vertical threats back in the arena right now."

The latest and biggest news for this offense was the loss of Tim Tebow at quarterback in the third quarter of the Kentucky game. It is still a guessing game whether Tebow will be back on Saturday to take on fourth ranked LSU, but Addazio says that his backup, sophomore John Brantley, is ready to go. He also said the game plan would probably be just a little different with Brantley in there.

"Johnny has a great arm," Addazio said. "You are always going to feature those little things he does well. Its like anything else, certain guys have certain things they do better. I think Johnny is well versed in our whole offense, he has been doing it all week long. We have a lot of confidence in him."

Look for Brantley or Tebow to have more options now. Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey have been working in the slot position. Addazio said they opened that up a little bit in the Kentucky game, but the passing out of the two running backs in the position didn't happen because of the defense that was being thrown at them on the field.

"It has happened in the running game, if you have noticed they have been in the slot positions in the running game," Addazio said of Demps and Rainey. "It just hasn't been as much in the throw game, but it will."

Addazio sounded like a man that just wants his guys to play at the level they are capable of and everything else will take care of itself this Saturday night.

"The key thing for us is to go in and play our game," he said. "We need to go in and be confident, be physical, and play our game. That's all we need to do."

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