Forget a one-dimensional offense. Florida is a one-dimensional football team.
The UF defense, which ranks fifth in the nation, is the reason the Gators are winning, and the offense — ranked 103rd — remains this team’s biggest, most glaring weakness.
Many onlookers praise offensive coordinator Brent Pease while slamming Charlie Weis, but Florida has only managed an additional 4.1 yards per game this season despite an improved running game and a better defense that gets off the field quicker.
Florida’s two strengths — ball security and the running game — have dissipated, yet the Gators remain a stubborn bunch.
UF will not shake things up offensively. But if I took the reins with nothing to lose, here are some things I would try:
1. Let Pease do whatever he wants — Although coach Will Muschamp has said he and Pease share a similar offensive philosophy, I don’t think Florida’s current attack is exactly what Pease had in mind when he arrived in Gainesville. Jeff Driskel is no Kellen Moore, but Muschamp should take the leash off Pease for a day and see what happens. The Gators have two weeks to try all sorts of crazy stuff against a couple of scrubs in Louisiana and Jacksonville State.
2. Change out wide receivers — Put Loucheiz Purifoy and Omarius Hines at wideout. Could either guy be as inconsistent as the receivers UF is putting on the field now? There is no way Frankie Hammond Jr. is the best wideout on Florida’s roster. Purifoy had one of the best catches made by a Gator this season on a punt during Saturday’s game. Hines is the most underutilized player on Florida’s roster. Both have good size, and they have been clutch when called upon this season. It’s time to expand each guy’s role.
3. Reopen the quarterback competition — There’s no denying that Driskel has been a playmaker for the Gators with his feet this season. But Driskel’s inconsistency in the passing game limits what Florida can do through the air.
Meanwhile, Jacoby Brissett never got a fair shake once the season began, especially after outplaying Driskel in 2011. Driskel scrambles better, but Brissett’s mobility is not a significant liability. It’s a win-win situation. You either light a fire under Driskel, or you upgrade under center with Brissett.
4. Switch to Georgia Tech’s offense — The Gators might as well switch to the flexbone formation triple option. Before Saturday, they ran the ball on 78.1 percent of first-down plays. That figure is even higher than that of the Yellow Jackets, who ran the ball on 77.9 percent of first downs before Saturday. Florida’s receivers are adequate blockers in the open field. Fullback Hunter Joyer is a talented football player who would thrive in an increased role. Driskel and Gillislee would shine. Changing an offense midseason is impossible. But hypothetically, the Gators’ personnel would flourish in a scheme similar to the one Paul Johnson runs at Georgia Tech. Just look at Florida’s win against LSU. The Gators bossed around one of the most physical teams in the nation. Why not embrace that style completely?
Am I a problem solver? No. Am I fit to coach any football team on any level? No.
But the Gators’ offense is in shambles, and if I were in Muschamp’s shoes, I would be willing to try pretty much anything at this point. Why not?
Contact Joe Morgan at [email protected].