Now that fall workouts are going in earnest, Brent Pease may miss some things about Boise. The high desert and its drier air and cool nights are pleasant—and so was a quarterback like Kellen Moore.
Pease left Idaho for the challenge of getting an offense re-energized in north central Florida.
What he inherited is a supposed great group of athletes who floundered last year under the direction of a supposed offensive guru, Charlie Weis. Was it the athletes or the coach who failed to live up to the Gator offensive tradition of the past 15 years? Whatever the reason, the offense average ranked No. 105 in the nation last year.
In fairness to both, the issues began with then head coach Urban Myer in 2010.
The rush numbers were bound to drop after Tim Tebow graduated. Though still respectable, they dropped to an average of 167 yards a game in 2010 and on down to 143 yards in 2011. Myer also tried three different quarterbacks throughout the season, but passing yardage fell as well.
Even with the lower yardage, the 2010 Gators scoring averaged almost 30 points per game. Not bad by any comparison—unless it is the Tim Tebow era and near 40 points per game. Unfortunately, with Weis at the helm, the point production continued to slip down to 25.5 per game in 2011.
What has been suggested by some is the thing that would help the Gator offense most immediately: improved coaching of the wide receivers. Just what Brent Pease specialized in for five years before becoming offensive coordinator at Boise State.
In 2010, the Gators had to replace four of their top five receivers. Their leading receiver for that year, Deonte Thompson, struggled with dropped passes all season. In 2011, Florida had to replace their No. 2 receiver, but the top three receivers for the year only finished with 1,003 total yards. In 2009, the top two had 1,811 yards!
This is not suggesting the receivers are solely responsible for the decreased offensive numbers since 2010. Replacing Tim Tebow was impossible to begin with, so everyone who tried had some issues. But wrap your mind around the idea that receiving was more an issue than originally thought for a minute.
When receivers have too many dropped passes, it's obvious what happens. Receptions and yards drop, possessions drop and points drop. How about when they fail to get open? Interceptions go up, more often the quarterbacks scramble or get sacked—or both. Exactly what happened the past two years at Florida. But worse last year because another issue was added.
Last season, opponents lost some respect for the Gator pass game. As a result, they increasingly loaded up against the run, causing the rush numbers to suffer as well. Add into this an offensive line that replaced both a two- and a three-year starter. It all adds up to decreased offensive production and less points on the board.
Pease is doing what he needs to do to get the offense back on track in 2012. He is coaching up the receivers. The offensive line is improving in experience, and they have some big, pounding running backs. Additionally, they are going to utilize the tight ends more as well as throw more screens.
Coach Pease has some quality athletes at quarterback. Definitely not a Tebow, probably not a Kellen Moore, but good players. With better coaching of receivers, an improved line and some big, bruising backs, they have a game plan for 2012.
This offense will likely transform into more a possession unit this year. Less long pass plays than the Meyer era, but improved offensive production versus the Weis year. Overall, this offense will develop and get better this year.