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October 11, 2012

Florida makes pro style work in 2nd year

AUBURN, Ala. – Jeff Driskel was a blue-chip quarterback prospect, recruited by Urban Meyer, who envisioned Driskel as the next Tim Tebow. Of course, Tebow was king of the collegiate spread, and also a disciple of current Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler’s at Florida in 2009.

In late April 2010, Driskel committed to Meyer, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and none other than Loeffler. (Yes, this ties back into Auburn. Stay with me.)

Since then, Florida has brought in new head coach Will Muschamp and made two changes at offensive coordinator, with Charlie Weis in and out after a disappointing 2011.

In 2010, Florida’s last year of Meyer and the spread (and Driskel’s senior year of high school), the Gators went 8-5 with an Outback Bowl victory, averaging 29.8 points and ranking 83rd in national offense.

In 2011, Florida’s first year with Muschamp in a transition to pro-style (after Addazio had accepted the head coaching job at Temple and taken Loeffler with him), the Gators went 7-6 with a Gator Bowl victory, dropping to 25.5 points and 105th in national offense.

Now? With uber-efficient Driskel at the helm under the tutelage of former Boise State architect Brent Pease, Florida’s up to 27.2 points, ranked fourth in the country at 5-0, and while the Gators still languish in total offense ranking 89th, Driskel has a higher QB rating (151.6) than John Brantley had the previous two years.

Not bad for a guy who was supposed to run spread.

I asked Muschamp how he’s done it on Wednesday’s SEC conference call.

“Jeff’s very bright. He’s able to assimilate things from what this is what we used to call, this is what we call now’,” Muschamp said.

Muschamp gives Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis much credit, as well as holdovers Brian White (running backs) and Derek Lewis (tight ends) for seamlessly blending old methods with new terminology.

“There’s not so much change for the players,” Muschamp said. “I’ve been in this situation of being a new coordinator when I was at Auburn and Texas of inheriting a staff. You can either ask one guy to learn some terminology, as opposed to asking 40 kids to learn it. Hats off to Brent and those guys for adapting some things to what has been set in place, but also changing our culture offensively.”

Muschamp remembers everything clicking around the third day of fall camp, when he knew Pease had something special with this offense.

“Sometimes, it takes a little time, maybe longer than others, when those things start to happen,” Muschamp said. “We’re a year older, we’re more mature, we’re a stronger group from the weight room than we were a year ago. We had a talented team last year, but a young team. We’ve been able to stay injury-free at some key positions. I think they’ve seen the mentality I want on this football team and what I want for the organization.”

Auburn fans, view this through one of two lenses.

The glass is half-full: Florida struggled at first with a new system, and it just took until the 2nd year for spread-happy players to grasp a pro style.

The glass is half-empty: excuses that true sophomore Kiehl Frazier, notoriously a spread option QB, doesn’t sprechen sie de pro-style under Loeffler are invalid, because true sophomore Driskel’s doing just fine when he’s been asked to convert in roughly the same fashion.

Your call.

-AB

3 Comments

  1. Struggles from a young, inexperienced offensive line probably have a lot to do with switching types of offenses. However, in my humble opinion, Frazier’s struggles are not primarily because of this.

    Struggles with Frazier result from 3 primary things: 1) Many times he is wildly inaccurate, 2) although having a strong arm, he release is very, very slow, and 3) He has shown no ability in the intangible, playmaking areas (i.e., scrambling in the pocket and turning a coverage sack into a 14 yard gain).

    Hopefully, there will be improvement next year with a pro-style offense, but I doubt it will be with Kiehl Frazier.

    Comment by Adam Steverson — October 11, 2012 @ 9:32 am

  2. I think (and hope) you’re right AB. It has to be with Frazier, we have no other option, so we might as well get behind him and support the kid. That is unless you want to play a true freshman next year instead, because Moseley most definitely is not the answer to anything except “Who is the worst QB Auburn has had since the Gabe Gross/Jeff Klein year of ’98?”. I also like the point I read somewhere else yesterday about how we (and Kiehl) might be in a much different position at QB if they hadn’t pulled Trotter halfway through the year last season for the even more ineffective Moseley. Trotter would have eventually stepped up like he did in the Virginia game and we’d have a more experienced QB leading the team this year most likely, which would have given Kiehl an extra year to learn the pro-style before being thrown to the SEC wolves. But hindsight… I wanted to try Moseley last year as well, but once he was obviously not any better than Trotter, and knowing Frazier would surpass him on the Depth Chart in the next year, we probably should have just went back to Barrett and worked at developing him more.

    Though I don’t know if Loeffler will get a second year at Auburn, just like Weiss didn’t get a second year at Florida (I know he left, but same difference). At this point I think he is going to have to be the scapegoat…

    Keep up the good work AB and I like the viewpoint you put up here as I hadn’t really thought about it in comparison to Fla.

    Comment by @crowson2000 — October 11, 2012 @ 10:53 am

  3. I had been comparing this Auburn team to Texas just two years ago. I like the UF comparison better. Thanks for the post.

    WAR EAGLE!

    Comment by Klell Lawrence — October 11, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

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