10/16: Pease looks at Florida’s passing game

With the team preparing for its seventh game of the season, a 3:30 p.m. home game against the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks, No. 2 Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media Tuesday to discuss his unit’s passing game and players that have stepped up recently.

…BUT CAN THEY THROW IT?

The Gators have run all over opponents this season, but Florida has not been very productive throwing the ball last two weeks. Part of that is due to how well the Gators have run the ball but there is also some concern that Florida’s passing game may not be up to par as sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel is rarely (if ever) throwing the ball vertically down the field.

Pease addressed that issue Tuesday, noting that being last in the Southeastern Conference in passing offense is concerning but winning is the most important thing.

“I care because you don’t want to be last and we talk about balance,” he said, “but you’ve got to understand something. There’s always give-and-take. We got a game plan every game. There’s a situation where, especially in my spot, I’m probably going to have to rely on that more. In this game, knowing how the game flows and what you can do, all of a sudden we find a couple plays that we can hit on that they can’t adjust to, so we stay with that and see if they can find answers to them. And they didn’t find some answers to a few plays. Whether [Driskel] ends up throwing for 300 or rushing for a record like he does, I don’t really care how it gets done as long as we’re productive with what we do and score points.”

Pease then expanded on his give-and-take philosophy.

“Once you get into a game, depending on the flow of the game and how the game is going, some things are going to have give-and-take,” he said. “LSU it had a give-and-take based on we were running the ball well so we are taking it and putting it in the O-line’s hands, so to speak. In this last game, all of a sudden we found those plays.

“Come on guys, when you hit 10 plays for explosive plays, the bottom line is: Run them again. Run them again. Let’s not get greedy here as a coach and say, ‘I don’t like that. I’m throwing the ball because that’s what we all love to do.’

“If Jeff Driskel can carry the ball 70 yards and out-run everybody, he’s getting the ball. If Mike Gillislee can carry the ball and out-run everybody, he’s getting the ball. And if our O-line blocks like they block, we’re giving them the ball. I’m not going to be stubborn as far as playing off numbers every week. I’m going to do what’s best for this team and what they create for us to be productive and score points and win football games.”

Adding more passing plays into the game will help Florida achieve the balance that Pease wants and many Gators fans feel the offense needs. More talented defenses like South Carolina will be able to put another guy in the box and still be efficient in the secondary, which is something UF will have to avoid to keep the running game going while also adding in some effective and game-breaking passes going forward.

Pease also noted that getting the passing game going is not all on Driskel shoulders as the players around him also have to do better in order to make that happen.

“We threw the ball 20 times [on Saturday]; we completed 11 of them. What’s going on in those? Some of those guys made catches; they got to make people miss. Some of them, we had drops. Some of them, we got to make better reads. Some of them, we got to have better protection. You can still be productive because it’s all self-evaluation. Some of them could maybe be better calls by me. All of that comes into account. It’s not like it can’t be done. It is being done, it’s just you got to continue to get better at it,” he said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the reserve offensive linemen stepping up against Vanderbilt: “Yeah, how about it? We go down three guys… It’s impressive. Three guys come in that probably don’t take as many reps during the week with [Sam [Robey and D.J. [Humphries] and Ian [Silberman] replacing all those guys and still kind of have the continuity. There’s still a lot of communication. There was a lot of communication from what Vanderbilt was doing defensively with the zone blitz. Those guys communicated and [were] productive in the run game. It’s a credit to Coach [Tim] Davis and those guys in the room and getting it done like they did. It’s good to have depth like that. It’s good that those guys can play other positions if they have to move around. Robey can go to guard, sometimes he’s played tackle. He’ll get out there and get better this week and same with the other guys. Hopefully we get some guys back.”

» On if he always knows when fake punts and field goals are being called: “I am because I sit in staff meetings. Do I know when they’re coming sometimes? I didn’t know the other one was coming [Saturday] until I saw the formation because I was about to get up and go to the bathroom. And then soon as I saw Solo[mon Patton] go in motion, I thought, ‘Oh goodness, they’re hitting it.’ Great call by him. Great call by Will [Muschamp].”

» On how Florida can fix the numerous drops the team had against Vanderbilt: “It is really probably more hitting the Jugs machine and creating the situation of having people around them. You really got to create the balls that are off their frame as far as catches – low below the waist, high above their shoulders or back – create a better range of their catch radius.”

» On Driskel’s mobility: “Jeff, come on, you out-run those DBs like that and you got something gifted in you.”

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