With the team preparing for its fifth game of the season, a 3:30 p.m. showdown in The Swamp against the No. 4/3 LSU Tigers, No. 10/11 Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media Tuesday to discuss improvements being made by his side of the ball and some of the standout players on offense.
NOT ALWAYS THE QUARTERBACK’S BURDEN
Sophomore signal caller Jeff Driskel has received plenty of well-deserved praise for his performance through the first four games of the season. But Driskel has yet to go up against a defense as dominant at LSU’s, and experience against Florida’s in practice situations does not compare.
Boasting one of the best defensive lines in the nation, the Tigers will be using a four-man rush most of the game and will certainly get to Driskel no matter how well the Gators’ offensive line plays. That is where Driskel’s mobility and ability to get out of the pocket come into play.
“Because of the four-man rush – they got speed on the edges and power in the middle – you just can’t sit back there seven yards and expect to pass the ball every play,” Pease said. “You got to move [Driskel] around. You got to sprint out, roll him a little bit, change where he’s going to be so they’re not going to always zero-in.”
While Driskel, as the quarterback, is the natural leader of Florida’s offense, Pease made sure to point out Tuesday that the success of that unit is not solely his responsibility come Saturday.
“It’s not always on his shoulders,” he said. “There’s guys around him that – it’s their job to execute also. He’s just got to get the ball in motion. When it is based on a throw or him making a play, he understands what he has to create and where to go with the football. I just think his knowledge has gotten a lot better. His questions on the field, what he’s seeing on film, the things he’s asking [are all improved].”
Instead Pease has Driskel focused on taking care of the football, managing the game and continuing to compete a high percentage of his passes. “He’s going to have to make a decision. Once he gets out of that pocket people are either open or they’re not,” he said. “There’s other guys around him. This isn’t about Jeff Driskel. This is about 11 guys out there executing a plan.”
HUNTER NO LONGER “FAT AND OUT OF SHAPE”
Asked Tuesday when he last dealt with back issues, Hunter responded in joke-serious fashion: “Since I was fat and out of shape – that’s probably the last time I had issues.”
Down to a svelte 313 lbs., Hunter is seeing increased reps and production while doing everything he can to help Florida’s defense succeed in his final season with the team. He is doing just that and even picked up an SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week nod (the first of his career) recently.
“Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t prepare myself the right way on the field or off the field,” he said. “The more and more I grew up, things started changing for me. I really grew up and started to put that extra work in on and off the field.”
Hunter is just one of the reasons why the Gators’ defense has picked up where it left off last season. He attributes the continued success to the overall attitude of the players.
“Guys are a lot tougher – mentally and physically – much more mature,” he said. “Guys have really been putting in the extra work this year, compared to last year [when] every guy worked hard but this year they’re going above and beyond.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Pease on if consideration has been giving to limiting senior running back Mike Gillislee’s carries to keep him fresh: “We’re going to do what we got to do. If he’s got to carry 30 times this game, carry 30. He’s got to carry it 12, carry it 12. Whatever it takes. He’s 22. He’s got good youth in him. I look at it like in the NFL. If the guy wants to play at the next level, he better be able to handle it 25 times a game. How strong are you in the fourth quarter? I think the kid’s good. Comparing him to Doug Martin when we were with Boise State, Doug Martin carried it 25-30 times a game. I don’t see any difference with Mike. He can handle that. We use other guys at other spots just to give him [a break]. Mike’s good at avoiding people. He’s not taking direct hits all the time. That’s one of his strengths.”
» Pease on the offensive line stepping up: “I think they have improved. We went from a big-sack game to no sacks. They’re always up for the challenge. That’s how those guys are. They don’t complain. They’re company-work guys. They get out there. We don’t have great, great depth. We have some good guys. Usually you like to have 12 guys; we have nine guys we’re rolling with, and they do a lot of work in practice.”
» Pease said that freshman left tackle D.J. Humphries is certainly in the mix for major playing time on Saturday and that he expects redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) to be available for the game.