Chameleon Offense Will Change Again

Just like a chameleon that changes its colors to take advantage of the pressures put on it, the Florida offense has done and will continue to do that this season. Bitten by serious injury and illness, the offense has had to rely on the ground game to control games so far. With an offense that seems to be getting healthier, look for them to grow some teeth and push their will on defenses.

Sentiment among Gator fans so far this season is that the Florida offense has been too vanilla and that the new leaders in the offensive staff are not used to throwing the ball around and scoring a lot of points doing so. The fact is, the Gators have been nurturing injuries, illnesses, and playing soft defenses that have allowed the Gators to run and at a big time level.

The Gators are currently ranked No. 2 (284.6 yards per game) in the country in rushing offense and No. 6 in total offense, hardly paltry numbers given that they have already played three of the top five defenses they are going to see in the regular season.

The Gators are even scoring at an exceptional rate and are ranked No. 7 in the country (39.0 points per game) despite only one touchdown coming at the hands of the defense or special teams so far this season.

Despite not throwing the ball very much right now, the Gators rank No. 3 in the country in pass efficiency. They average a big time 7.22 (No. 2 in the country) yards per play every time they snap the ball regardless if they run or throw. To put that in perspective, only two Gator offenses in the history of Gator football have averaged more per play (2001 and 1995).

Still, the staff isn't happy where they are at and according to offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, things will be changing now that he has his players healthy and back in the fold. The key to a successful offense is balance according to the Gators' offensive skipper.

"Obviously you are trying to strive for balance, but the number one thing you want to do is win," Addazio said. "Every situation is different. We went into that game (at LSU) and we consciously managed that game for a whole host of reasons. Yes, in the big picture of things. You are always looking to stay as balanced as you can ultimately, it is real nice to be 5-0."

With quarterback Tim Tebow coming back from a concussion and having missed over a week of practice in preparation for that game, it was important for the Florida offense not to have to lean too heavily on Tebow as he worked through some rust and some jitters. The game plan called on Florida to lean heavily on the interior running game and the offensive line. The Gators ran for close to 200 yards against the LSU defense in a show of brute strength. For Addazio, the situation is what dictated that particular game plan.

"What is real important to me is toughness, but that doesn't relate to the run game necessarily," Addazio said. "I am a firm believer in doing whatever we need to do that week to win. I am a real firm believer in that."

He understands that there is going to be a time that the Florida offense will need to throw the ball more and the Gators need to get back more into making this offense balanced.

"We have to start chucking the ball around," he said. "That was not our M.O. in that game for a host of reasons. It wasn't necessary in the game before that when it was 31-0 in the first quarter (either). The reality is yes in the big scheme of things that is our goal (to be balanced).

"The number one goal is go win the football game. The defense is playing their tail off and we almost had double the time of possession they had. That is a team win right there. That is team ball. That scenario, that day, that game...that's the way that was."

Addazio can't say enough about his star quarterback who has more than once willed the Gators to victory through tough times and injuries to his teammates.

"The decisions, presence, tough plays, leadership, toughness...in this conference big time quarterbacks win," Addazio said. "You are talking about one tough cat that did a remarkable job for a guy that really wasn't able to practice much, meet at all, not able to have his normal routine. He is remarkable to me, for us, and our guys too. Enjoy it. He is a remarkable guy."

Look for Addazio and the offense to also incorporate Emmanuel Moody more into the offense. The junior running back has shown a great sense of maturity lately and run the ball hard.

"He's a great runner, he really is," Addazio said. "He's powerful, he has great moves, he's dynamic in space. He also has power and he pressed. That was a very physical game and you saw him press for those yards.

"We are rolling all three of those guys. There are only so many touches to be had. We will play them all."

Addazio also knows that despite who gets a lot of carries right now, the season is still young and all of them will be leaned on before it is all over.

"We are going into game six right now and there is a lot of ball to play," he said. "Guys get dinged and we are going to need everybody, it will happen."

"It is hard to measure the wear and tear. That game was a very physical football game and we don't have any non-physical games coming up. In this conference, you better strap it up we very week, you know it is going to be physical every week."

Florida head coach Urban Meyer made some noise earlier in the week talking about having only four offensive linemen that are playing at an elite level. Addazio thinks he has five he can depend on at this time with two guys hurt and that isn't enough.

"I have five guys," he said. "Matt Patchan is out now. Mo Hurt is a little dinged, but is plugging along. We have six guys with experience and they played Saturday night. They did a heck of a job."

"What a battle that was. Those six guys are still rocking and rolling and we would like to have eight. That is the problem to me. The issue is we are a banged up six. That is where you worry. We have to get healthy each week and develop those freshmen guys.

In the meantime they are trying to get freshmen Nick Alajajian and Xavier Nixon ready to play.

"It is a race...today we did a little bit after practice with those guys," he said Wednesday. "Those are talented guys and are freshmen that will make mistakes. The reality is they will have to play."

Like last week, he reiterated that Mike Pouncey would be the first move to tackle if there needed to be a move due to injury. Fortunately Sam Robey seems to be getting better from an injury and he could also play center for Maurkice who could slide to any position on the line as well.

"You have a chess move with the Pounceys and then Sam Robey back to center," Addazio said. "He has been banged up a bit and I have forgotten to say that. You can move Pouncey to tackle. That would probably be initial, then Nixon and Alajajian in there next. David Young is playing pretty good right now, he may be able to go in there and give you some work."

"We have a good offensive line here. Other places you see those guys getting in those games, it happens. In a perfect world you would love to get some guys more reps in there, but right now, every week, find a way to win. That is what it's all about."


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