Making the case to keep Brent Pease

Yes, the title of article says the all: the man who has delivered the Florida Gators a 104th and 113th ranked offense in his two seasons at the helm, is Will Muschamp’s best chance to be successful next season and should be retained for his third season.

Brent Pease has not earned many fans in his few years in Gainesville; he took an anemic offense from Charlie Weis and was expected to deliver the same results he did in his one year at Boise State (9th ranked offense in the country in 2011).

While Pease has yet to deliver a potent — or even mediocre — offense, it would be in Will Muschamp’s best wishes to keep Brent Pease as the offensive coordinator.

I know what you are thinking and before you ask, no, I have not taken any drugs nor am I under the influence of any foreign substance.

Keeping Pease is not necessarily about Brent Pease being infinitely better next season or about Brent Pease being able to turn Jeff Driskel into a Heisman Trophy candidate. For Will Muschamp, keeping Pease would simply be about stability as he gives it one final shot.

Athletic Director Jeremy Foley and University of Florida President Bernie Machen came to the defense of Will Muschamp’s 4-6 campaign a few days with Foley stating unequivocally, “We have a history of being successful. We have a history of fixing things when they need to be fixed, and that is what is going to happen here. And Coach Muschamp is the one that will fix it.”

With Will Muschamp able to give it at least one more “go at it” next year, the biggest mistake he could do, would be to bring in a new offensive coordinator.

To understand the Gators current offensive offense, you have to look back a few years in history. Since the loss of Dan Mullen after the 2008 season, the Gators have struggled through: post-Tim Tebow Steve Addazio (83rd ranked offense), Charlie Weis (105th ranked offense) and Brent Pease (offenses ranked 104 and 133). The failures of the Florida Gators offense are three-pronged: play calling/right players for the offense, recruiting, and stability.

Primarily, the Gators have struggled with play calling and having the talent needed to run a certain offense. Under Urban Meyer, the Gators ran a spread option offense with that was equally balanced with run and pass (2009 Gators had 3,105 rushing yards, 3,305 passing yards). The offense centered around getting the playmaker the ball on screen passes and slants in open space with running backs seldom running between the tackles. This offense required speed, speed, and speed. Offensive linemen had to be lighter to move quicker, while wide receivers and running backs were lighter, but faster, and rarely ran long routes. The Gators never had a true “possession” wide receiver under Meyer, although Andre Caldwell was the closest.

When Meyer left in 2010 and Steve Addazio moved on to become the head coach at Temple University, Muschamp was hired and brought along Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Many Gator fans were extremely happy with the hire and hoped that he could replicate his success from the New England Patriots and Chiefs, and had learned from his mistakes at Notre Dame. Weis’s tenure at Florida was short, leaving after one season to become head coach at Kansas. Under Weis, Florida was slated to become a pro-style NFL-like offense with a drop-back quarterback, in-between the tackles running and long routes. However, the Gators struggled at quarterback with senior John Brantley, who was later injured, and then Jeff Driskel, who got injured, and then Jacoby Brissett. Ultimately, the Gators offense was a disaster and the Gators finished 7-6. The season was likely a wash from the beginning. The Gators lacked a quarterback, relied on Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey to be power-running options, and had a wide receiving corp led by Andre Debose and Chris Rainey.

Enter Brent Pease in 2011. Pease, who served six seasons as the wide receivers coach at Boise State and one year as the offensive coordinator, was expected to bring a west-coast, gun-slinging type offense. Obviously, that has not been done for a few reasons. First, the Gators do not have a quarterback on their roster that can throw the ball like Kellen Moore. Second, the Gators have lacked true receiving threats. Finally, the Gators simply do not have the manpower (more on that below) to run an offense that slings the ball, no matter who is calling the plays. During Pease’s entire time at UF, Florida has struggled to have an ample number of offensive linemen, a true possession wide receiver, and have lacked depth at tight end – none of which is Brent Pease’s direct fault.

The next issue revolves around recruiting. When Muschamp was hired in December of 2010 he was given 1.5 months to recruit “his guys”, while trying to keep some semblance of a class. Of the 2010 class, which was Meyer’s last, only Trey Burton, Mack Brown, Quinton Dunbar, Tyler Murphy, Chaz Green Ian Silberman and Solomon Patton remain as offensive recruits, while Gerald Christian, Robert Clark, Adrian Coxson, Chris Dunkley, and Michael McFarland have transferred. Of the 2011 class, which was recruited by Muschamp, Michael Blakely, Jacoby Brissett, Tommy Jordan, A.C. Leonard, Javares McRoy, and Ja’Juan Story all transferred, leaving only Clay Burton, Jeff Driskel, Hunter Joyer and Trip Thurman left as the offensive recruits. Ergo, of the 23 offensive recruits that would be upper-classmen at UF, only 12 remain, and only a few of those have proven to be playmakers. While the 2012 class did not prove to have much on the offensive side of the ball either, it is still too early to count out Latroy Pittman, Raphael Andrades, Matt Jones, D.J. Humphries, Skyler Mornhinweg, Kent Taylor or Colin Thompson, although I am sure most have began to make their assumptions about their caliber/impact.

The 2013 class featuring Ahmad Fulwood, Kelvin Taylor, Demarcus Robinson, Chris Thompson and others has been relied heavily this season. When looking at the Gators offense this season, the Gators lack proven back-ups on the oft-injured offensive line, their top two tight ends are converted defensive ends, their slot receiver is a converted quarterback, and a freshman is getting the lions’ share of rushes – not to mention that the Gators are on their third quarterback of the season. It would be very tough for any offensive coordinator to excel with those numbers.

Finally, the Gators need stability. During Andre Debose’s career, he has seen four offensive coordinators (Addazio, Weis, Brian White for one game, and Pease), while most of the roster has seen the latter three of those during their career. Albeit all pro-style offenses, Weis, White and Pease all call plays differently, use different terminology, and coach players differently. With a new offensive coordinator, no matter if was an internal or external hire, is going to require a new playbook, new play calls, new terminology, and ultimately, set the offense back.

See the problem with Pease is not necessarily his lack of ability (that is still somewhat in the air), but more so an amalgamation of a few externalities that are out of his hands combined with perhaps subpar coaching. But there is no exact proof of blame that falls solely on Brent Pease.

I do expect some changes on the offensive side of the ball, but letting go of Brent Pease would all but assuredly end Will Muschamp’s career before his “make or break” year.

Daniel Thompson
Dan Thompson is a 2010 graduate of the University Florida, graduating with a degree in Economics and a degree in Political Science. During this time at UF, Dan worked three years for the Florida Gator Football team as a recruiting ambassador. Dan dealt daily with prospects, NCAA guidelines, and coaching staff. Dan was also involved in Florida Blue Key, Student Government and Greek Life. Currently, Dan oversees the IT consulting practice of a Tampa-based company. Dan enjoys golfing, country music, bourbon, travel, oysters, and a medium-rare steak. Dan can be found on Twitter at @DK_Thompson.