Florida Gators Football: Six Things Urban Meyer Should Do Before The LSU Game
After a disappointing 31-6 loss to the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, the No. 14 Florida Gators have to prepare for yet another big game against the undefeated No. 12 LSU Tigers.
While a 48-14 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats had the Gator Nation convinced that Florida was finally hitting its stride, Saturday's blowout loss clearly sent a different message.
While the Gators are a very young team and are far from reaching their full potential, a very successful 2010 season is still well within their grasp.
Here are six adjustments that Urban Meyer can make to help him get the most out of his team from here on out.
Completely Move On From The Alabama Loss
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While losses like the debacle against Alabama often serve a motivational purpose for many teams, the Gators would be wise not to dwell on this one for too long.
Florida would be better off to key on their mistakes in Saturday's defeat, fix said mistakes in practice this week, and not worry about the Crimson Tide.
Granted, many expect these two to meet again in Atlanta, but the Gators should be more preoccupied with Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, who currently share the top spot in the SEC East with Florida and Vanderbilt.
Urban Meyer and his coaching staff will emphasize moving on to LSU, but it will be hard for the players to forget what happened at Bryant-Denny Stadium so soon.
Don't Ask Too Much of Trey Burton
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After a stellar six-touchdown performance against the Kentucky Wildcats, many were comparing true freshman Trey Burton to former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.
While Burton is having a great season, expecting him to have a big game against on the road against the defending national champions was a tall order for such a young player.
And Burton showed his youth against the Crimson Tide, throwing an interception and carrying the ball four times for just five yards.
However, as he gains experience, the issues Burton had against Alabama will disappear soon enough.
If Florida continues to use Burton the way they did against Kentucky, he'll put up great numbers this season, but right now, against top competition (i.e. Alabama, LSU, South Carolina), he can't be your only option.
Let John Brantley Be John Brantley
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For the past three seasons, the Florida Gators have had a lot of success with Tim Tebow running the spread offense.
However, now that Tebow's gone, Urban Meyer faces a very different situation with pocket passer John Brantley leading the offense.
Unlike most prototypical spread offense quarterbacks, Brantley is not a very good runner and seeing him run the option is not a pretty sight to behold.
Unfortunately for the Gators, Meyer has yet to adapt the offense for Brantley the way he did to fit pass-first quarterback Chris Leak's talents during the 2006 season.
In the 31-6 loss to the Crimson Tide, Florida moved the ball best when Brantley dropped back in the pocket and threw down the field to wide receivers Deonte Thompson and Carl Moore.
If Florida wants to have success offensively against top-notch defenses like Alabama, Meyer and Steve Addazio need to let Brantley air it out in the passing game and leave the quarterback runs to dual-threat signal-caller Trey Burton.
Make The Running Game More "Finesse" and Less "Smash Mouth"
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With recent injuries to speedy running backs Jeff Demps and Mike Gillislee, the Florida Gators may need to reconsider their offensive identity.
Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio continually insists that the Gators are a "smash mouth" football team, but when your biggest running back is 6'0" and weighs 211 pounds (Emmanuel Moody), that mentality is a problem.
If the Gators want to have success carrying the ball, they need to lessen the between-the-tackles running for their smaller backs like Demps and Gillislee and leave the bruising style to bigger athletes like Moody and Trey Burton.
There's nothing wrong with being a finesse team if it keeps your players healthy and it moves the ball down the field.
After just 79 rushing yards against Alabama, 24 of which came from non-running backs, it may benefit Addazio and the offensive coaches to revisit their strategy in the ground game.
Get Andre Debose Even More Involved
When Andre Debose arrived in Gainesville as a freshman last season, he was hailed as the "next Percy Harvin."
Unfortunately, a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the entire 2009 season and some struggles in learning and understanding offensive strategy have limited his time on the field.
However, now fully healthy, the coaches need to make sure that they incorporate the very versatile Debose into the game plan in a major role.
And if that means that he needs one-on-one crash sessions to learn the offense, wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni should oblige.
While Debose has seen the field much more against Kentucky and Alabama the past two weeks, he's simply too talented athletically to have only six catches for 66 yards in Florida's first five games.
Meyer has said that Debose "just can't handle [the offense] right now," and Azzanni said, "I don't want [Debose] thinking too much," but at a certain point, the coaches have to throw these players into the fire and see if they perform.
Florida can afford to make that gamble with an athlete like Debose.
Keep Taking Risks
Even though Trey Burton's jump pass against Alabama landed in the hands of Crimson Tide linebacker Nico Johnson, that shouldn't stop Urban Meyer from continuing to be tricky and creative on offense.
Earlier on the same drive, the Gators pulled off a brilliant 19-yard reverse run by Omarius Hines, who also caught lightning in a bottle on a 36-yard fake punt run against Tennessee.
With a backup quarterback as versatile as Trey Burton and other quick playmakers like Jeff Demps and Deonte Thompson at his disposal, the variety of plays Meyer could potentially use to confuse the opposing defense are endless.
While the botched jump pass hurt the Gators against 'Bama, Meyer is too confident to let one failed trick play discourage him from taking future risks.