The injury bug has bounced around the Florida locker room. It doesn’t discriminate offense or defense and last Saturday took a chunk out of Florida’s offense when Matt Jones was lost for the season with a torn meniscus. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease spoke with the media for the first time since the injury to his starting running back on Tuesday, taking time also to address the struggles on the offensive line and what the Gators can expect when they travel to face 14th-ranked Missouri in Columbia.
Kelvin Taylor stepping into a new role
- Man down, man up means that freshman Kelvin Taylor’s role will increase with Jones out of the lineup.
- Taylor had career highs in both carries (10) and yards (52) against LSU but should get more work this week against Missouri.
Kelvin did really well. I mean, he ran the ball hard. You know, you see he made some good vertical cuts and did a good job in space and ran tough. I think he showed us something. And, you know, he really actually gave us a little spark in running the ball there for a while.”
- The workload will increase for Taylor, Pease believes that it’s a challenge that the highly-regarded freshman is ready to take on.
I think he’s definitely ready for it … It just can’t be all handoffs to him. There’s some things he didn’t do that he needed to do. The expectation on every down. But I tell you, the kid is a physical runner. He put it north and south. We missed a couple guys. Just his speed how he hit the holes, he made them miss, especially down in the red zone and got good positive yardage. That’s where when we were in that position, we kind of kept going to him a little bit. When he got the ball, he was gaining 5-6- 7 (yards).”
- Even with the running game struggling, Taylor didn’t really get an opportunity to be featured more in the offense. Despite his sparse role, Taylor continued working hard and did things the right way in practice.
Offensive line struggling
- Tyler Murphy took responsibility on Monday for not getting the team into the right protections. Murphy was doing his part as the quarterback and leader of the offense, but the blame should not fall squarely on his shoulders.
It’s not all his. That’s just how he is. There are some where, there’s cover-zero and yeah, he saw it and he was trying to get rid of the ball quicker. He’s got to protect himself and get the routes to match because sometimes there were some vertical routes. You don’t have time. When you’re blocking with six and they’re bringing seven, no matter what they’re bringing. You’re blocking with five and they’re bringing six. So it’s a situation where you’ve just got to kind of get the receivers on the same page also. And you’ve got to change what their routes are because they need to know that their routes need to have quickness, and what we call quick routes rather than downfield routes.”
- With the offensive line struggling to protect the quarterback, the Gators will likely work on getting more six- and seven-man fronts to help out the line. However, it’s a catch-22 because the more people you have staying in to protect, the less receiving options you have and it becomes easier to cover receivers on the outside.
Well you can bring it in, just go to more of a 6-to-7 man protection, and yet you’re limiting the number of people you’re sending out, which is fine if teams play you in man. It’s not so great if they’re playing zone because they can get more people over what you’re, you’ve got to have the right concept and probably do a lot more pattern reads with your receivers, which we don’t really do that a lot.”
- Expect to see more opposing defenses dial up blitz packages against the Gators until the offensive line shows that they have fixed some of the communication and protection issues that have plagued them.
- The line has really struggled against odd fronts. The communication needs to begin with the center and the quarterback when this happens and then work its way out to the guards, tackles, tight ends and backs.
A tough test this Saturday
- Missouri comes in as the top team in the SEC East with a 6-0 record. The Tigers had a tough adjustment to the SEC last season but after a stunning win over Georgia, seem to have acclimated well this season.
They have good talented kids on the offensive side. Their kids they work hard, you can see that they’re stronger and faster. They’ve got a lot of talent, and they’re playing very sound just to be productive as they are. I think they’ve got a little chip on their shoulder so knowing what was coming back especially from the defensive side you can see, you guys see it.”
- Gary Pinkel is the longest tenured head coach in the SEC (13 years) and Pease credited him for being able to turn his team around after a disappointing season in 2012.
Special teams affect offensive play calling
- Last year the offensive play calling grew conservative when the team crossed midfield because the staff knew they had a safety net in placekicker Caleb Sturgis with his big, accurate leg. This season there has been unrest at both kicker and punter and special teams are once again affecting the offensive play calling, just in a different way.
Early in the game, I knew we were in range at that time when we were in a third and three situation. We just kind of tried to be physical and go for a run there because we were going to take the points … later on, we know we’re in a situation where we’re communication, ‘OK, we’re kind of on that edge of the range they can kick it.’ We know we have two downs to really get it. That’s what we’re just communicating to the quarterbacks and some of the calls. Usually sometimes you throw to get that yardage. Now maybe you’re running on third down to get that. Just try to cut it down to a shorter fourth down yardage situation that you put yourself into. Or go for it and you’ve got to get it on fourth down also.”