With the team preparing for its third game of the season, a 6 p.m. road contest on Saturday against the Tennessee Volunteers, Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media Tuesday to discuss choosing his running back’s health and the offensive line being the strength of the unit.
GILLISLEE NICE BUT NOT A SURPRISE
There are few known quantities with Florida’s offense, but Pease had a good idea of what he would be able to get out of senior running back Mike Gillislee when he watched him this offseason. Gillislee, whose 115.50 yards per game average through two weeks ranks him 22nd nationally and first in the Southeastern Conference, proved during spring practice that he had what it took to be a quality rusher for the Gators.
“He’s very talented. He provides such a downhill running attack but yet you can see when he starts to bounce plays that he is allusive enough and he is great in the open field. He can make people miss, and he does a good job of reading blocks downfield,” he said.
“You can use him. He’s not just a downfield runner. He can be if he has to [be]. You saw it on the goal line. He’s got good hands. You just got to continue to get him the ball.”
That may be more difficult this week as Gillislee, who strained his groin against Texas A&M, is supposed to be able to play but may not be able to carry a full load. Pease said the coaches will limit his reps in practice, something they do anyway for starters.
“Whether he’s a little sore or not, he understands his reps as far as practice goes. He doesn’t need as many so that’s where you try to get the other kids and build up their repetition base because he’s taking so many and he gets so many lives situations in the game. He does not need to continue to take those and take those,” he said.
Pease also expressed his confidence in redshirt sophomore Mack Brown and freshman Matt Jones. He thinks Brown shares similar qualities with Gillislee but noted that Jones actually has the best hands out of the entire position group.
OFFENSIVE LINE IS THE UNIT’S STRENGTH
Fans may disagree with this assessment, but Pease was adamant on Tuesday that Florida’s offensive line remains the strength of the offense. “We’ve said the strength of our team is our O-line. I think they’ve been consistent from spring on. There are some good kids up there,” he said.
Pease refused to blame the majority of the Gators’ sacks on the offensive line. He attributed four/five to the quarterback, one/two to good defense/bad routes and the other two to protection problems from the line, which he believes is a standard amount.
“For as many as we had, I think four or five of those were more [the quarterback] moving out of the pocket and trying to get yards. He’s got to learn – you’re in a situation and you can throw the ball away,” he said. “There was maybe one, possibly two where, scheme-wise, they had us from what we were doing.”
Pease was then asked to explain how the offensive line could be the team’s strength when what is seen by most who watch the game are issues in short-yardage situations, sacks and the coaching staff deciding to go with a more mobile quarterback (potentially in an effort to move the pocket).
“The sacks, out of eight sacks, two of them we needed to have better protection. You can’t put that on the O-line. Short yardage, let’s take out two plays and let’s understand that up until that point there was 40 carries for 249 yards at five-point-whatever [yards] a carry. Maybe I’m off on my math there, but you can figure that out,” he said. “And then a running quarterback, that just adds to the flexibility of what a defense has to [prepare for]. That has no effect on the offensive line either not being effective or being effective. It adds to where you can spread the ball around in the running game.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On Driskel’s reps in practice: “How we’ve always done things…Jacoby [Brissett]’s still taking reps. It’s probably not 50/50, but it’s 65/35 sometimes 60/40. Jacoby’s still going to get good reps. You don’t want to burn the other guy out. You always monitor them and [make sure] you are giving them enough to hit all of the plays that we’re going to run.”
» On Tennessee’s defense: “Really their defensive front – they’ve got good size, they’ve got good speed. They’ve got some motors up there, guys that play with relentless effort. And their backers, they’re big and athletic. Secondary, from what they’re doing with their scheme, guys play a lot of man. They have guys with good feet, good football instincts.”
» On the penalt
iesy Saturday: “There weren’t a few penalties. There was one penalty on the offense. It was early and we probably knew…we worked on it all week and we knew one of them was going to happen. He got caught; backed us up. Our kids pulled through; we still scored on the drive, so we overcame that.”
» On redshirt junior Andre Debose seeing more time at wideout: “He was in there at wide receiver. He had two great run blocks downfield that made some big plays. When he was in there he did a great job.”
» On the progression of redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed: “I think he’s developing tremendously. One, you see where he’s moved around at. He’s in a lot of different positions. He’s learning. He’s doing a great job in the run game. He’s definitely got good hands and had a big catch and a run after it. He’s coming along. He provides a big opportunity for us to be able to put him in a lot of spots.”
» On not having specific playmakers: “The thing that I’m encouraged about is everybody’s kind of finding where they’re fitting into this and you find out more and more about the guys. [...] No one’s asked about Quinton Dunbar but the kid had a couple big catches. He had a catch down by the red zone that we didn’t even throw it to him all week but the coverage dictated that and Jeff made a nice read on it. These guys just got to understand that you continue to work hard in practice and balls will come your way.”