Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Florida Gators may be 4-1 on the season but, by and large, they haven't played nearly as well as a team as that record would indicate. They started the season with three straight wins over Miami (OH), South Florida and Tennessee and all three of those contests were a lot closer than what we've all become accustomed to seeing from the Gators.
Now, obviously, there is a reason for this. No matter what your personal feelings were for Tim Tebow when he was playing in Gainesville, it's hard to argue that Tebow was the perfect quarterback for the Florida offense masterminded by Urban Meyer and called by Steve Addazio. Losing Tebow is something the team needs to adjust to.
Unfortunately it's an adjustment that Florida's coaching staff doesn't seem willing to make.
It wouldn't be fair to compare John Brantley to Tebow because they're two completely different quarterbacks. Tebow was the battering ram who would occasionally make an ugly throw whenever it was needed. Brantley is your more traditional quarterback, with an arm that is much stronger than his legs.
Yet the Gators are treating Brantley as if he's Tebow, asking him to run more speed options than throw deep ins. Brantley has carried the ball 15 times this season for 60 yards, with no run gaining more than 11 yards. He also picked up some bruised ribs on an option run courtesy of the Alabama defense.
Even after seeing that unmitigating disaster, Addazio says that there will be no change in the way the Gators conduct business on Saturday against LSU.
"That's a part of who we are and that won't change," said Addazio. "It's like everything else. Get a little better, operate it a little better. Twenty of them? No. But the element is there and element will always be there."
Which is fine. It's hard for an offense to completely overhaul its identity in the middle of a season. Still, you would think Addazio would take a look at his team's performance against Kentucky two weeks ago.
Without question the Gators 48-14 win over the Wildcats was their most impressive outing of the season, dominating the game from the opening kick to the final whistle. In that game Brantley ran the ball four times and picked up a yard.
However, Trey Burton took some snaps at quarterback running the option and picked up 40 yards on five carries. Each one of his five runs ending with six points as Burton went on to break Tim Tebow's school record with six touchdowns in the game.
Brantley had a fine afternoon throwing the ball, as well, completing 24-of-35 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown.
So why won't Addazio use this approach the rest of the season? Against Alabama Brantley ran the ball eight times to lose a yard. Burton had half as many carries, and only picked up five yards.
Forget about the output, as even Tebow had his problems with the sturdy Alabama defense last season, and look at the philosophy. Burton was coming off an amazing game and only got half as many carries as the quarterback who has struggled to run the ball all season.
Hell, Brantley had more carries than every Florida running back other than Jeff Demps, and Demps was playing on an injured foot.
In what world does this make sense to anybody?
Not even Brantley sounds like he's comfortable running so much, though he isn't stupid enough to say it publicly.
"I don't mind doing it at all," Brantley said. "It is a little different. Gotta get a little used to it at game speed, but I'm comfortable doing it. That's what our offense is. It's been successful for us these last four years, so why not keep doing it?"
He doesn't mind doing it. Not I enjoy doing it, not I want to do it. He doesn't mind.
Well, I don't mind watching Project Runway with my girlfriend if she asks me to, but that doesn't mean I want to.
The reason you don't keep doing it is because in the four games you have been things haven't worked out too well. In the one game you didn't, and mixed it up, you had your best game of the season.
If I can see this, then why can't the Florida coaching staff?
Go with a two quarterback system. When you want to run the option, bring in Burton. If you want to pass, use Brantley. I seem to recall a former Florida quarterback who wasn't exactly suited to run an option offense either. His name was Chris Leak. That's when the Gators started using Tebow in run situations, and things turned out pretty well that year as the school's trophy case can attest to.