Sophomore linebacker Mike Taylor has only had 15 practices to look at Florida’s new offense, but it was plenty enough time for him to make a bold prediction about how SEC defenses will fare against it in the fall.
“It’s like a Jedi mind trick at first,” Taylor said. “They’ll be screwed. They’re going to be so confused. Good luck.”
New offensive coordinator Brent Pease has brought with him the Boise State offense head coach Chris Petersen has perfected.
It’s a head-spinning, almost dizzying offense, at least before the snap. Players are motioning every direction imaginable, keeping the defense on its toes until the last second before the snap.
It can be downright maddening at times.
Florida’s defense was caught going completely the opposite direction of the play at least three times in the first half. And it’s been practicing against the offense for the better part of a month now.
“We want to be a physical football team that’s able to run the ball when we need to and still has the gadgets and the tricks,” coach Will Muschamp said.
On one play, junior wide receiver Solomon Patton took advantage of some confusion on the defense to sprint around the left side on an end-around for a 30-yard gain.
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Dunbar also got a few carries, though he fumbled an end-around that wound up killing a scoring opportunity in the red zone.
“More shifts, obviously,” Dunbar said about the changes to the offense. “I felt like we did alright. Could have been better, but we only had a couple of weeks to get the formations down, the shifts down.
“These next four months, we’re going to really work hard to get all that down pat for the season.”
Florida was not officially penalized during the game on offense, but the defense did decline one flag for not enough men on the line of scrimmage on the offense.
It was a much cleaner performance from a discipline standpoint than a year ago, despite the added shifts and motions.
Dunbar and the rest of the players on offense know if they can execute the pre-snap movements properly, it adds an element of unpredictability to the offense.
“We hear from the defensive line that the shifts just totally mess up the defense,” Dunbar said. “We use that to our advantage.”
Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel said the shifts haven’t been hard to learn for the players, but that they are certainly confusing for the defense.
“It seems like just about every play we’re shifting, then we’ve got to motion,” he said. “We try to disguise what we’re doing a little bit more. The shifts and the motions make it hard for the defense, not the offense.”
The sophomore battling for the starting job noted the motions help him end up with a lot of one-on-one coverage.
Jacoby Brissett took full advantage of the single coverage on one play, completing a 43-yard strike down the field to true freshman Latroy Pittman on a fly route.
Driskel connected on a few nice passes of his own, finishing 12-14 passing for 147 yards. He hit receiver Andre Debose for a 44-yard completion in the second half after going through his reads and finding the junior wide open on the right side of the field.
“When we shift, they’re moving around and they’re not set,” Driskel said. “Every once in a while you get an uncovered guy just from a shift and a motion.”
After chunking out 619 total yards and 41 points between the two teams, the Gators are certainly a lot more confident about Pease’s new offense than they were with Charlie Weis’ a year ago.
Muschamp may not know what a Padawan is, but he’s certainly hoping the offense’s “Jedi mind tricks” work as well as Taylor thinks they will.
Saturday’s spring game was a good sign.