Getting to Know Zach Azzanni

The newest member of the Gator coaching staff has yet to have his "Meet the Press" type moment, so we had to go elsewhere to learn more about Gator Receivers Coach Zach Azzanni.

I spoke with Drew Ellis who is the beat writer covering the Central Michigan football team for the "Morning Sun" in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. He has probably talked with Azzanni more than anyone outside the CMU coaching staff and offers up his insights on the guy who the Gators have added to the coaching staff.

As you read these quotes it becomes more and more apparent that Urban Meyer has hired a guy whose coaching style and approach to offensive football closely resembles that of the guy who had the job previously, Billy Gonzales.

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On what Azzanni is like as a person:

"He's a very approachable guy off the field. He's always a guy who's shaking hands and asking how everyone's doing. When you see him on the field he's a very caring guy but he also demands a lot out of his players. He expects a lot out of his players and if they're not doing it right he'll correct him even if it's the most established player on the team. He's done a great job with Antonio Brown (97-1,020, 9 TD) who is starting to develop a name for himself around the country. He's a guy who came in without a great head on his shoulders but Zach did a great job with him and really got him to buy into the system. Now he's a mentor to the younger receivers and I think Zach has a lot to do with that."

On Azzanni in general:

"Zack is a very hard worker and a guy who obviously cares a lot about what he does. He did a great job at Central Michigan coaching the wide receivers over his three years. He's a guy that Head Coach Butch Jones trusted a lot and thought he had a lot of things that he could help with. He was also an excellent recruiter especially in Florida. I know he worked the Florida camps last year and made some good inroads there."

On his priorities in developing his receivers:

"He really emphasizes proper route running and paying attention to the details. He is also very big on blocking. He wants his receivers being very physical on the outside and helping other guys get more yards after the catch. He wants tough guys. He wants guys that are quick, but he also wants guys who can break a jam and make a big block when needed."

On the similarities between the CMU offense and the Gators:

"They're not a team that's necessarily going to air it out all day long. They'll take their shots, but they're a possession control offense through the spread. I think you look to have two big, physical receivers on the outside that can get you those seven, eight yard gains. Then you have your slot receivers who run the crossing routes and deep patterns."

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Central Michigan averaged 33.2 points last season and were led by QB Dan LeFevour who, like Tim Tebow was his team's leading rusher. However LeFevour did not carry the ball as much by percentage as Tebow did this season.

The Chippewas also run a spread offense and their play balanced was 54% run and 46% pass. They averaged 172 yards a game on the ground and 2345 through the air. Their top three WR combined for 204 receptions for 2,351 yards and 19 TD.


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