Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday ahead of the second game of the season against the Miami Hurricanes on Sept. 7.
“WE DIDN’T HAVE A ‘VANILLA’ GAME PLAN”
Asked Tuesday if the Gators purposely held back on offense in order to not put some of their new plays and vertical passing game on tape – or if Florida was simply the same old offense that could not do much other than run the ball – Pease appeared to be a bit offended by the implication that the Gators’ offense was vanilla and not creative. He responded with the following (extremely long) rant.
“First off, I don’t know what ‘vanilla’ – because I’ve heard the word ‘vanilla’ – I don’t know what ‘vanilla’ is. I’ve never made a game plan with vanilla and that’s never what I would go into a game plan with. I would feel too uncomfortable thinking we got to save all this, we got to save all that.
“I look at it, compared to what we did last year… We controlled the ball for 40 minutes, finished the game with the last 6:38 on the clock. We rushed for 262 [yards]; we passed for 77 percent. We had one turnover we need to improve on. We had nine explosives. We were 6-of-12 on third downs, which last year at this same thing, we were asking each other what we got to do on third downs. We were 3-for-3 on 3rd-and-1s, which last year that was a concern in our first [press] conference.
“OK, yeah, do we need to improve on sacks? Yeah, we had two sacks. Our protection, our scheme got us. Happy for Mack Brown, happy for Trey Burton how they kind of stepped up with their opportunity.
“We threw the ball down field seven times. Coverage takes some things away. Do you ask a quarterback not into coverage deep? Yeah, you do. We hit Trey Burton on two, we had two check downs, we got a protection issue on one. We’re stretching the field. We can stretch the field if we want to stretch the field. Did we have to stretch the field at a certain part in time? No. Did we have it in the game plan to do it? Yes. I’m not sure what everybody wants. …
“Are we going to throw the ball 75 times a game and throw vertical? No. When a team plays corners coverage like Toledo, you don’t throw the ball vertical. You throw the ball in intermediate to check-down throws. Did we try to throw the ball vertical in the red zone? Yes, we did. Well, they played coverage. So what’s Jeff [Driskel] do? He checks it down to Gideon [Ajagbe], guy bounces off Gideon, Gideon runs for 15 yards, gets a first down, we’re in good position and we continue to score.
“We didn’t have a ‘vanilla’ game plan. You saw reverses. I can’t handle what the refs don’t see but yet they call and it keeps us out of the end zone. …
“Should we have come out in the third quarter and probably had more production in the first two series instead of three-and-outs? Yes. … I think we hit a lull that we got to be able to step it up and not be able to do that, score at the end of the game. So if you’re measuring us against points, yeah, we left points out there. But we had things in control and we ran the last – I don’t even know how many plays – but I know there was 6:38 on the clock and we walked off the field with the offensive on the field. We were on the one-yard line or three-yard line, whatever we were on, trying to score.”
He later added:
“Do I want to see 300 passing yards? Absolutely. Is that going to be a reality? I don’t know. I don’t measure success totally on that. We completed 77 percent yet we have two drops, two tips and a pass that he probably should’ve hit on the end zone but he overthrew it and it got away from him. That’s what I see. The kid’s making good decisions. He’s managing the game. … He’s productive with his hands running it. He’s putting us in the right plays in the run game. That’s what I look at. Are we having a chance to win the game? Yeah, explosiveness, but I’m not measuring it on yards. That’s called you trying to get your guru card. Maybe when I was 30 years old, but I’m not 30 years old anymore.”
JONESING FOR EVEN MORE PRODUCTION
Sophomore starting running back Matt Jones is scheduled to return to the field for Florida on Saturday at Miami after missing nearly all of training camp while recovering from a serious viral infection. Though Jones practiced with the team all of last week and will be a full-go for Saturday, the Gators will likely limit his carries in order to ease him back into things and ensure he is not overworked.
“I expect him to be out there and be in the offense,” Pease said. “I think we got to be smart with how we use him because we got to understand, probably through practice this week, what’s the number of reps that he can handle and the fatigue factor that’s probably going to become involved in the humid situation down there at that time of the game. He’ll know the whole game plan. He’ll know that because he’s a smart guy. We’ll have to see what he can handle, but I expect him to be able to handle it all.”
AN UNEXPECTED BUT WELCOME ADDITION
Despite spending his entire first two years with Florida in the secondary, redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers was more than amenable to a move to offense when Pease and position coach Brian White approached him before the start of fall camp. Pease said Tuesday that Showers brings a different element to the Gators’ offense, one that the team was certainly missing.
“He’s got some natural things that he’s not a repetition guy, so once you teach him something, he can take one rep and you feel pretty comfortable you got that trust of how he’s going to handle things. I think he’s a really good athlete that you put the ball in his hands, he’s going to run. … He can catch the ball,” he said. “He still has to be responsible for protection and then people starting to move at the snap of the ball, and he can handle that. He’s got a great awareness of just being natural and having football intelligence on the field.”
Pease also discussed that Showers was not moved to offense in order to fill a spot but rather because Florida had a specific plan for how to utilize him. He then explained what he said to Showers on Saturday after the player’s 53-yard effort in the season opener.
“First thing I did after the game? I went up to him in the locker room. He’s got his [head down] – he’s tired, he’s not down, he’s happy, he’s smiling. I said, ‘Hey, what’d you just do.’ He said, ‘I just got out of the ice tub.’ I said, ‘It’s a little different than just playing about five plays of special teams, huh?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, I’m taking care of myself now.’ When you feel like that after a game, it’s a good feeling because you gave everything you had.”
FRESHMEN WILL GET THEIR FAIR SHARE
Though freshman wide receivers Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson – two of the most hyped players in the offseason – combined for one catch and five yards on Saturday (Fulwood got the reception on a third-down conversion while Robinson was targeted twice but held without a catch), Pease said Florida most definitely plans to get both players even more involved in the offense going forward.
“I went up to [Robinson] in the locker room. I said, ‘Be patient, I’m going to do a better job of getting some things designed.’ He said, ‘Coach, I had fun and we won.’ That’s the kind of kid he is, OK,” Pease explained. “Ahmad, he catches the under route. Last year, I don’t know if we get it. He sticks his foot in the ground and gets it.
“You guys see it as a five-yard catch, I see it as a first down on a third-down conversion that last year we probably don’t get. I think that’s big on what he does and his football awareness. The kids are blocking. … They are going to be guys that will be high-production guys in this offense.”
Pease does not expect the Gators to ever have a 90+ catch wide receiver during his tenure with the team but would like to see a number of players with 50+ seasons. His goal is to spread the ball around and get production from a lot of different spots.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On redshirt junior WR Quinton Dunbar and his improved maturity: “Unbelievable. He’s become a leader. Just how he works in practice. I can’t say enough and feel more proud of that kid and how he’s grown up as a kid. I say ‘kid,’ I know he’s a grown man or whatever they want to be called, but it’s awesome. Just how he’s helped younger players. Just how he understands his role and what he wants to bring to the offense and really understanding that he’s a guy who we expect to make plays for us.”
» On senior WR Trey Burton and his intelligence: “Trey is a smart kid. He studies the game. He teaches the game to the other kids. … There’s reasons why you run a route this way, and he understands that. … He is smart. He’s one of the smartest players on our team. … He sees the whole picture. He sees all 11, what there doing and where they’re going.”
» On the play of the tight ends against Toledo: “I think they did a steady job of blocking because we were really concerned about their slanting up front so much. … They played a steady role in what they had to do.”