VETTEL: A Few Things Worth Trying Saturday

The fools claiming the spread-option offense won't work in major conferences have not been watching much football this fall. From Texas to Missouri, Northwestern to Penn State a number of major conference teams are having excellent seasons using some form of a spread option.

The one thing all four have in common is an outstanding runner at the quarterback position. Florida does not have that, but the Gators do have a superior passer. This week provides the ultimate challenge to the Gator coaching staff to make the needed adjustments in the scheme and play calling to generate some scoring.

With that in mind there are several things I think the Gators should try to do in an effort to put points on the board. This offense does not have all the ideal pieces but there is more than enough talent on that side of the ball.

Play Portis and Leak Together

With Florida limited in the number of legit threats on offense, why not put both quarterbacks in at the same time? It would give Florida a number of interesting "options." Certainly they could spread Portis wide and let him run deep --- Georgia would have to cover him. Or line him up out wide then shift him to quarterback and run an option play or quarterback sweep. Or, (and this is really out there) let Portis throw the ball.

They could also spread Leak out and snap it to Portis running in the opposite direction. Spread Leak out, but then shift to a direct snap to Leak and throw downfield. If nothing else, playing them together creates options prior to the snap while the defense will be guessing which QB is really taking the ball.

Max-Protect Once or Twice a Quarter

Florida has trouble throwing deep in large part because the offensive guards are doing quite the Moses impression (parting of the Red Sea). Georgia is a fine pass-rushing team so Florida must select opportunities to keep extra bodies in sending no more than three receivers out and let Leak choose the best opportunity available.

This should not happen once, but once every other possession. And if it works, try it more often. This definitely comes under the heading of "adapting the offense to the personnel."

Run Specific Plays For Tate Casey

Florida's tight end is perhaps the most under-utilized asset in the offense this season. After a strong finish last year with seven receptions (4 TD) in the final five games, Casey has been Florida's Maytag repairman this fall. Three catches for 28 yards should be a decent GAME for the 6-6 sophomore, not seven games worth of productivity.

It's not hard to diagram a play with the tight end the primary target, in fact there's no doubt the Gators have a few. But they need to run them and they need to do it early in the game. And early in the second half. And (like the dual quarterback idea) if it works, keep going back to it.

Experiment On The Offensive Line

Why not try Phil Trautwein at right tackle and move Lance Butler to left guard? It would create a solid, experienced situation on one side of the line, and it happens to be Leak's blind side, which should improve his comfort level. How about tossing Carlton Medder out there? Or Jason Watkins or Michael Brown?

I understand Urban Meyer doesn't believe that some players are "gamers"… but I do. Danny Wuerffel didn't win the job on the practice field. Neither did Willie Jackson. If protection remains mediocre at best there is nothing to lose by giving down-the-line guys a chance to perform on the big stage. If nothing else, it might light a fire under others up front.

Try Using Georgia's Speed Against It

One thing has been noticeably absent against Alabama and LSU. Florida failed to use mis-direction plays often enough to slow down the pursuit of those two defenses. Throw back screens were effective, but there were no reverses in the running game.

Attack the Middle

Opposing safeties have had free reign against the Gator offense because the middle of the field is almost never attacked. Short drag routes don't count. Florida has to run mid-range crossing routes… send the tight end or running back down the middle of the field … that sort of thing. Let Greg Blue know you are willing to challenge him and that you are able to take advantage is he spends too much time with his nose around the line of scrimmage.

* * *

Those of us who cover teams are often accused of trying to "coach" them or acting as if we think we know more about football than the coaches do. Let me assure all that is not the case. But distance can often be very useful in evaluating a situation, no matter the circumstances. Plus, risky play calling and experimenting with personnel can't cost me my job!

Still this game will define this season and this coaching staff for months to come. The Gators have to stop talking about letting play makers make plays and start getting it to happen. The need to stop talking about adjusting the offense to fit the personnel and get it done with positive results.

It's not easy to place a lot of your principles and theories on the shelf for a month or two, but it must happen if this season is going to turn out to be something more than 7-4.

Keep those emails coming!

Don't forget to email me your questions and comments, but please do not include attachments! My email address is: vettel@gatorcountry.com .

I look forward to you joining me on the radio, Sunday nights from 6:00-to-8:00 on Gainesville's WSKY-FM 97.3 (877/975-9825 toll free) Have a great week.

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