5 Biggest Adjustments Florida Football Needs to Make in 2014
Florida (4-5, 3-4 SEC) has been the last dog to the bowl in its past few contests.
The Gators have dropped four consecutive games for the second time under the tenure of coach Will Muschamp, and presumably, the season has become a wash.
In the span of a few weeks, Florida's coaching staff has had to make sizeable adjustments following key injuries to both the offensive and defensive lines.
Injuries to middle linebacker Antonio Morrison and tackle Tyler Moore puts Florida's season-ending injury total to 10. And in the past four games, the Gators have eclipsed the 20-point mark once.
Needless to say, the Gators have had a shortage of luck.
We'll take a look at where Florida will need to make the biggest adjustments in 2014.
Let's take a look.
Make Changes to the Offensive Coaching Staff
Any coach on the offensive staff not named Joker Phillips should be worried. And for good reason.
As the seat continues to get hotter for Coach Muschamp, it has certainly intensified for a coaching staff that has produced the No. 111 offense in the country.
It's almost a definite that second-year coordinator Brent Pease is likely gone by the end of 2013, and so should several other staff members.
Florida has dealt with sluggish offensive line play, and not coincidentally, offensive line coach Tim Davis could be replaced by season's end. And the same could be said for tight ends coach Derek Lewis. Not a single Florida tight end has recorded more than three receptions in 2013.
But the easiest decision to make will come at the top of the pecking order with Pease.
Muschamp likely to stay. Off. coor. Brent Pease likely gone. Not sure of many options for a replacement, but WR coach Joker Phillips is one.— Safid Deen (@Safid_Deen) November 13, 2013
In his two seasons calling plays, Florida has ranked one of the country's 20 worst offenses. In 2013, the Gators have failed to register 30 or more points in an away game and rank No. 13 in points per game (20.6) in the SEC.
Ingenuity has taken a back seat to a depleted and predictable run game that ranks No. 13 (146.0 yards per game) in the conference.
And with the chances of Florida losing out on a bowl bid growing, it wouldn't come as a surprise to see countless coaches jobless in the spring.
Adapt a New Offensive Philosophy
Muschamp's conservative, throw-on-obvious-passing-downs mentality has dug Florida a hole.
Last year, Florida ranked No. 103 (334.4) in the country in total yards per game. And the same formula used to achieved those numbers—power-gap running, conservative passes—has the Gators ranked 111th (335.7) in 2013.
Not surprisingly, the decision to transform the program's current offensive philosophy to one more conducive of winning football games has to be made.
In 2013, Florida's play-calling has been anything but inventive. Aside from the Wildcat formation and a few pistol formation wrinkles, the Gators have failed to create confusion and take advantage of mismatches.
Florida's leading tight end has three catches this year, a far cry from the 45 former Gator tight end Jordan Reed hauled in a season ago.
No more bubble and tunnel screens, power run plays and outside zone stretches.
It's important Muschamp adapts a system that integrates his skilled players efficiently. And that doesn't mean the Gators should run a heavy-spread offense or a version of the Air Raid.
And Florida has to find it.
Create More Production at Tight End
Florida's production at the tight end position has been dismal.
Considering the bevy of talented recruits the Gators have acquired over the past two seasons, including former Rivals.com 4-stars Colin Thompson and Kent Taylor, it's shocking to believe the group has recorded just three catches in 2013.
Florida's tight ends have grown to become nothing more than in-line blockers. Rarely ever are they detached from the core formation and lined up in the slot or at the flex.
Jordan Reed has four catches for 58 yards in this first half. Florida tight ends have two catches for 13 yards this year.— Alligator Army (@AlligatorArmy) October 14, 2013
Muschamp has put a premium on tight ends whose strengths is to block in the run game. Consequently, the offense has failed to produce advantageous one-on-one matchups in the passing game.
Opportunities are to be had with this group, but it's all predicated on the new direction of Florida's offense heading into 2014.
Find Continuity on the Offensive Line
Shoring up the offensive line will be a top priority for Florida moving forward into 2014.
Patchwork offensive line play and untimely season-ending injuries have derailed Florida's pass and run protection for much of the season.
The Gators are ranked 13th in the SEC in rushing yards per game, and that same offensive line blocking for the likes of Mack Brown and Kelvin Taylor has surrendered 26 sacks, tied for 105th in the country.
Not coincidentally, Florida has surrendered 67 tackles for loss, which ranks 110th.
This unit is downright dreadful in all facets of the blocking game and fails to open holes consistently in the run game, particularly versus elite SEC defenses.
Zach Abolverdi of GatorSports.com examines Florida's offensive lineman recruits over the past few years and questions the program's depth at the position:
It starts with depth. Although UF has 15 players at the position, which is what Muschamp wants, there’s a major problem that occurred for three straight years.
Only two offensive linemen were signed in 2010 (Chaz Green and Ian Silberman), 2011 (Tommy Jordan and Trip Thurman) and 2012 (Jessamen Dunker and D.J. Humphries). Two of those six (Dunker and Jordan) are no longer on the team.
Florida has three committed 3-star prospects for 2014, according to Abolverdi. And with the lack of continuity this season, having a bevy of lineman for 2014 could certainly bolster an already-thin and unproven offensive line.
Resolve Kicking Issues
The absence of Caleb Sturgis hasn't gone unnoticed.
Lackluster performances in the kicking game in 2013 has forced Muschamp to bench two players already. And the issue hasn't been resolved, either.
The Gators are 10-of-17 in the kicking game and have connected on just two of five field goals in the past two weeks.
Consider this: Florida's three kickers have combined to go 1-for-7 from 40 yards and beyond. And Muschamp's strategy to employ a different kicker beyond the 30-yard mark has produced minimal results.
The hallmark of a Muschamp team lies in its ability to play sound defense, run the ball and key in on special teams.
But heading into 2014, Florida will have to resolve its issues in the kicking game.
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