Offense Working On Red Zone Execution

They are ranked at the top of every poll that matters. Yet, the Florida Gators know there is something missing from their team that if found would make them complete. Coming off last year's reputation as an offensive juggernaut, the Gators have been able to roll up numbers, only to see them die when they get close to putting points on the board. Red zone deficiencies have the Gators' attention.

The Florida Gators are tops in the land in the polls. They are on a 17-game winning streak and are still playing at a high level almost everywhere. In conference, the Gators dominate most of the defensive stats. They lead the SEC in pass defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense, scoring defense, and other categories.

On offense, the Gators lead the SEC in scoring, total offense, rushing offense, total offense, and pass efficiency offense. Still, there seems to be something missing. The Gators lead the SEC in scoring, but they are nowhere as efficient and as productive in the red zone as they were a year ago. It is something that the world has taken note of and certainly the Florida coaching staff does not have their head in the sand.

Offensive Coordinator Steve Addazio and the rest of the offensive staff have been looking at every minute detail to figure out just what the problems are.

"We evaluate everything from top to bottom," Addazio said Tuesday. "It comes down to execution. We make sure what we are doing is sound and it has been for years. One thing about here is there is no one scheme or no one anything, it is always open for evaluation. We scoured through everything we have done in the red zone on Sunday. You go back and see if it is the right call, scheme....we did all that and there are a couple of things we want to do a little different....but, we have to execute better."

A few games on national television and of course all the national media that the Gators get every week has the nation looking at any weak link they can find in the nation's top ranked team. No one however is as concerned as the Florida staff and the players.

"Sometimes these things gather momentum a little bit," Addazio said referring to the media attention to it all. "The reality of the thing is we are turning the ball over in the red zone. That has to go away. It's not about one person or one thing, there are different reasons...a little bit of everything. It's all about execution and when we get down there, we aren't executing at a high enough level."

"It has our full attention and we are working at it."

Looking at all the offensive rankings listed above it is easy to see that the Gators are doing a lot of things right. However, the lower scoring output and the relation to the turnovers and inefficiency in the red zone means that everyone from the staff to the players needs to focus more on the task at hand when the ball reaches the area of the field just shy of the goal line.

"We have all the confidence in what we do and our players do," Addazio said. "Because, they watch the tape. When you watch the tape and you say that's a bad scheme. The players watch it and say if we just did it this way...they are smart and they get it."

"We just have to bear down and make more plays down there. If we couldn't make more plays and weren't talented, we wouldn't move the ball anywhere on the field, it just wouldn't happen. We are going to see some tweaks in there and are going to make sure everybody is incorporated."

"We want to execute it at a much higher level. It isn't from a lack of effort on the practice field, they are practicing their tails off right now. Steady the boat, and we will. It is what you do sometimes, but you also have to focus on the great things that are happening. We are 7-0 and have a lot of positive things going on. The obvious things that aren't where we need to be are turnovers and the red zone and we haven't gotten it corrected yet and are working hard at that."

One statistical category the Gators are lacking in is passing offense. The Gators currently rank seventh in the SEC with just 199 yards per game. At the heart of the matter is the ability to distribute the ball to multiple receivers. It isn't from lack of trying, the Gators will usually have a couple of receivers catch more passes than the others, but have always striven to diversify the passing game and get the ball to as many people as possible.

Right now, senior receiver Riley Cooper and junior tight end Aaron Hernandez seem to be the ones that the offense is focusing on, but it isn't supposed to be that way. Quarterback Tim Tebow leads the team in rushing and that is also not supposed to be the case.

"It is playing it out that way," Addazio said shaking his head in displeasure. "We are real conscious of wanting to utilize everyone we can utilize. We have a lot of attention there, but it is falling that way right now. We are real intent (in spreading it out). It isn't a conscious thing, absolutely not."

"As a matter of fact, we want to get all the tailbacks involved, they are really good football players. Sometimes down there we have some great play concepts with a really good power runner like Tim, wired in with some good throw pass play concepts. We get down there and want to be really efficient down there and want to put it in your best player's hands. But, we are going to be conscious about that and want to get the tailbacks the ball, we trust our tailbacks now."

Outside of the red zone, the Gators have been sharp. That leads to all the categories in which the Gators lead the SEC.

"We are doing a lot of good," Addazio said of the midfield efficiency. "Our play action is tremendous, our running game is tremendous. At times we will stall in the running game, but it is consistently up there. Play action is really solid. We are moving it well (inside the 20s). As we have gotten it closer (to the goal line) we have had our issues. Issues have come in the form of turnovers and sacks and the whole gamut. We have run Tim a lot down there and we are going to try and diversify it a little better. That is our focus right now."

We saw one of the tweaks when the Gators lined up in the I-formation and Tebow under center inside the 10-yard line. It took only one play from that formation and a straight ahead run by Chris Rainey to score a touchdown. Expect to see a little more of it moving forward.

"It's not complicated...running out of the I ," Addazio said. "I have been an I-formation guy for most of my life,. We just don't do it a lot. When you get down there you have to do what you do best. In that game and at that point we made a decision at that point that we needed a change, so we did that. We have the opportunity to utilize that again and we work on that all the time."

Another tweak may come in the form of changing some parts on the offensive line. Gator quarterbacks have been sacked 16 times this year, the same number they had the entire season in 2008. Freshmen linemen Xavier Nixon and Sam Robey have made some huge strides in recent weeks and bigger strides this week.

"He is doing great," Addazio said of Nixon. "He just needs experience. We could throw him in now, but understand when you do that you add to inconsistencies. You are trying to avoid that right now. He is really talented and he is coming on. He is getting to go in the game right now. He had his best practice today (Tuesday) that he has had since he's been at Florida. He is a talented guy and as we start getting worn thin in there right now, we have to have a guy like that who is stepping up. He and Robey are stepping up and that is great."

Expect to see some action along the front this week as they try and figure out which is the best group to put on the field. Including the two freshmen, Mike Pouncey, Maurkice Pouncey, Carl Johnson, and Marcus Gilbert.

"I have a few combinations I am getting to work on right now," Addazio said. "Xavier to tackle, Carl would go to left guard, Robey to center, two Pounceys going to guard, you could see all or none of the above on Saturday. Xavier is making a push and Sam is making a push. I want to see them play and I want to see the two Pounceys at guard, we all know Carl can play guard. I want two big, thick guys playing at guard right now."

Fightin Gators Top Stories