Florida Gators Football: 5 Suggestions To Jump Start the Offense
Three straight losses in a row. How the mighty have fallen.
Things aren't pretty in Gainesville these days, and once again the finger gets pointed at the offense.
When you only put up seven points against Miss State, at home, on homecoming, something needs to be done.
People will say that playmakers Andre Debose, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, among others, have been hurt or MIA. It is true, but it is not time for excuses, and injuries are part of the game.
The truth is the offense isn't very good right now. It may not be fixable this season, but with a bye week ahead, Urban Meyer and company can make some tweaks to try to jump start the offense.
Here are five things he can do.
5. Less Deonte Thompson
You hate to point the fingers at any one guy, but Thompson is one player that needs a role reduction in this offense.
His drops and lack of effort and crisp routes are hurting the Gators right now.
He has the talent, but until he fixes his concentration and his hands, he needs to see less playing time. Maybe that will wake him up.
For an offense that cannot afford missed plays and opportunities, his drops are making an already difficult task impossible.
Give me more Frankie Hammond and Robert Clark. And of course, Carl Moore should always see more action.
4. Hines and Reed Need to Have Essential Roles
One guy, Omarius Hines, continues to prove that he needs to keep getting more and more touches. There is no question he can be a big solution to many of the offense's problems.
Coming into the season, we thought he might be a strong receiver or tight end, but he showed against Miss State that he brings a new wrinkle to the running game.
If guys like Demps, Debose and Rainey play against Georgia, the coaches may forget about Hines, and that cannot happen.
Another guy, Jordan Reed, hasn't really proven himself yet, but the Gators desperately need a tight end to take some of the pressure off the quarterbacks and give them a safety valve. His cause was not helped by early-season injuries, but it is time to fully invest in him and the tight end position.
Having a tight end as a safety valve option is much better than the two-yard checkdown that happens all too often.
Reed is a huge target and can help keep drives alive and give the Gators something they haven't seen very often: points.
3. Develop a Red Zone Package
The Gators have been able to get yards. The problem is finishing drives and getting points.
And, don't tell me that a healthy field goal kicker will change that. The Gators need to get into the end zone.
That means developing a package and a decisive goal of what they want to do once they get into the red zone. Right now, Florida looks lost and gets the jitters when they smell paydirt.
The first step is getting all the best playmakers on the field, namely the ones that can run the ball to punch it in. That means Hines, as mentioned before, Mike Gillislee and if healthy, Demps, Rainey and Debose. Then, all you need are the big targets in Moore and Reed. Obviously, you can't have all of those on the field at once, but you get the idea.
Trey Burton is the ideal quarterback in red zone situations, but John Brantley can succeed with these weapons too.
The trick is using all of these weapons to keep defenses on their toes and create mismatches. With several guys capable of running the ball and big targets, Florida should be able to keep opponents relatively honest and score. They just have to move the ball forward instead of using gimmicks and wasting plays.
Might be easier said than done this season, but at least put the team in a position to score.
2. Give Trey Burton the Reins For a Few Series
Contrary to popular belief, it is not in the best interests of the team to simply bench Brantley and give Burton the reins.
At least, not yet.
Right now, the coaches would be wise to give Burton the reins for a few drives at a time to see what he can do. That means no pulling the plug when the team gets close in favor of Brantley. It also means letting Burton throw some passes to see if he truly is capable of taking over the reins.
As a true freshman, he probably doesn't have a full grasp of the playbook and the nuances of college passing, but he will obviously rely on the run. Just a few passing plays to keep defenses honest and see what the kid's got.
Brantley is still a valuable piece to the team, and benching him would be seen as giving up on him completely. The coaches will figure out a way to increase his effectiveness over the bye week (less Deonte Thompson might help). Brantley has the talent to make this work, but a lot of factors around him aren't giving him much of a fair chance (offensive line, poor receiver play, etc.).
Although I'm not normally a fan of the quarterback platoon, this team doesn't have a choice. There is not enough talent on offense to rely solely on either one, so the coaches will have to use both to mix things up. In 2005, Meyer figured out how to use Chris Leak more effectively after the bye.
He later developed a nice run/pass platoon in '06. Different players this time, but he can make this work. This time around that means giving the backup a slightly larger role.
1. Give Addazio an Ultimatum
In an ideal world, most Gators fans would just as soon fire Addazio over the bye week and be done with it. But there isn't much upside to firing him in the middle of the season, so the Gators will have to work with what they've got.
He is not the entire problem, but a lot of the problems seem to revolve around him. The biggest is that he is juggling too many duties, and all areas seem to be suffering because of it. The offensive line is playing poorly, and you can't win without a line. The playcalling isn't up to par. And, as offensive coordinator, you are the one responsible for the meager seven points put up against Miss State.
To be fair, the players haven't always made the plays on the field, but something needs to be done. Meyer should light a fire under Addazio and give him an ultimatum: he has until the end of the season to make this work, or the team is getting a new offensive coordinator next season.
Right now, the assumption is that Meyer will not let Addazio go because he is a trusted aide, and maybe that is part of the problem. If that security is suddenly removed, then maybe some creativity and some coaching-for-your-job type inspiration will ensue. At the very least, you would think the conservative and predictable approach would change.
Either you get a suddenly inspired offensive approach, or you can scrap the Addazio experiment at the end of the year. Win-win.