Gators addressing passing issues

It’s no secret that Florida’s offense last year was below average. Brent Pease and the offensive staff have been working hard to fix that this offseason.

One of the main things that Pease and his staff must fix are the problems up front and the pass protection that broke down at times last season, something offensive lineman Jon Halapio agrees with.

“If there is anything the offense needs to do better, it’s pass protection,” Halapio said. “Just continue to run the ball physically down the middle. Pass protection is the biggest thing we need to work on and we have done a great job of working on that.”

On Tuesday in Hoover, Ala. at SEC media days, junior quarterback Jeff Driskel talked about the struggles of the pass protection last year and what he has done to fix that this offseason.

“I watched a lot of game tape from last year and I really focused on getting better at pass protection and knowing when to get rid of the ball and when I have to take a sack or throw the ball away,” Driskel said. “Myself and a bunch of the lineman got together and watched a lot of film and got on the same page. We talked about when to make this call or when to check out something. So I think we are a lot better and a lot more sound in protection this year.”

When asked the same question, Halapio agreed with Driskel but also noted that pass protection is a team effort, not just an offensive line problem.

“Giving up that many sacks is a letdown and it starts up front with the offensive line,” Halapio said. “We have been doing a good job this summer of watching film with Driskel, the tight ends and the backs. It doesn’t all fall on the line but it’s everyone. But watching film and understanding what we do and why we do it. We need to know what Jeff is thinking so we can help.”

To the credit of the offensive line, the group played last season without much depth due to injuries.

However, depth shouldn’t be an issue for the 2013 Florida Gators with the addition of two transfers and healthy players.

“We are three deep now for the first time since the Pouncey’s were here,” Halapio said. “ With Max Garcia playing two years at Maryland and Tyler Moore having played at Nebraska, it’s really good to feel like we have players that can back us up and take the load off.”

Depth is something that is essential to Florida’s success, as Will Muschamp and Brent Pease like to use jumbo packages often.

“We were short on the depth at offensive line,” Driskel said. It’s nice to add more depth to the line. We have packages where we will play 7 guys, so it’s nice to have depth there. Those guys (Garcia and Moore) both have experience and it’s nice to have that on the line.”

For Halapio, he says having the depth will allow for more rotation, which will also help keep players fresh throughout the game.

“If we can get an 8-man rotation going, that would be great. That means everyone will be fresh,” Halapio said.

With the concerns of the depth fixed and the team working on fixing the problems with pass protection, Halapio sees a new offense this year.

“We understand the scheme and the gameplan and why the coaches are doing what they do this year,” Halapio said. “Talent wise, we are doing good too. We have experience on the offensive line and Jeff Driskel is doing a phenomenal job this summer. He’s throwing really well now. It’s going to be a good turn around this year.”


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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.