Mailbag: What are Tebow's plans?
Over the past week, we solicited questions from you about the Gators, which we passed along to Times beat writer Antonya English. Here are the questions and answers, in preparation for Saturday's SEC opener at Tennessee:
Q: Why so you think the running game is so ineffective vs. teams with strong D'lines? Besides the obvious, I mean, why is Urban's running offense so bad when we play really strong teams? I'm not being critical, just looking for an explanation. We can't run the middle at ALL, which leads me to why wouldn't this open up the passing game more? Or is it we don't have the time (in the pocket) to open up the passing game since the defensive push is so quick? Just would like some of your thoughts on this. -- Rich
A: The offensive line is essentially playing with a freshman center, so that’s a factor in what opposing defenses are able to accomplish in stopping the run. Maurkice Pouncey is a sophomore, but is a first-time starting center. And let’s face it, until now, Florida just hasn’t had a great running back under Meyer. Also, Meyer’s offense is predicated more on East-West running as opposed to North-South, so runs up the middle aren’t going to be as frequent, although they continue to hope that Emmanuel Moody (below, left) and Kestahn Moore will emerge as strong weapons in this offense. So far, Meyer has been using Tebow sparingly to keep him from being pounded often and early, but expect to see more of him where he’s generally been successful in the run game -- draw plays up the middle.
Q: What are you hearing about Tebow's plans for next year? Is he still planning on coming back for his senior year or is the money starting to call to him? Also, where does John Brantley fit in with this team (or does he at all)? --Marc
A: Nobody surrounding Tim Tebow (above) most of all Tim, is saying anything about next year. He’s trying to become only the second person to win the Heisman twice and is practically obsessed about winning an SEC title, so if he’s thinking about his future, he’s not giving any indication publicly. And if he doesn’t have a big season, there may not be large sums of money to lure him.
As for John Brantley, one of his biggest problems is bad luck. Every time he seems ready to make a run at securing the backup position, he gets injured. Meyer continues to talk about trying to use either Brantley or Cameron Newton in a similar role as the one Tebow held when he played behind Chris Leak, but so far that plan seems to be going nowhere. So, for now, as long as Tebow is healthy, Brantley most likely will remain in the third-string position.
Q: I thought the running attack of the spread used to have more of an option look than our attack currently has. I know you teach the quarterback to read the end in deciding whether to hand the ball off to the running back. But I thought there were more end arounds used in the spread to give a third running option. It seems to me due to necessity we started putting our recievers in the backfield and stopped running the end around or reverses off the end around. I certainly think running those type of plays could help the offense in both running and passing. Have we forgotten those plays because of personnel or do you feel they would be ineffective? -- Glen Fen
A: Even though Florida played tougher opponents in the first two games than they might normally have opened with, the coaching staff has been very vanilla with its playbook -- by design. Essentially, the staff has been running basic stuff. The objective up to now was to win the first two games. Now they are trying to win the SEC, so expect them to open up the playbook more to resemble some of what’s been successful in the past. And remember what Meyer says all the time about his “spread offense’’: there is no set offense, it’s based on the personnel. And Percy Harvin is a huge factor in those reverse, end-around type plays. He insists he’s completely healthy now, which changes the dynamic of the offense immensely.
Q: I hear Torrey Davis is slowly working his way back into the lineup, however, I have not heard any mention regarding John Brown. Do you know his status with the team? -- Scott
A: John Brown is practicing with the team. The thing is, he is basically the equivalent of a first-year player. He entered camp late last season, was redshirted and didn't see any game action last year. It's a long process to get on the field, particularly in Meyer's system, where he's big on how a guy practices. The coaches see potential, but he's got a lot to learn and improve on.
Everyone, thanks for your questions. If you didn't get a chance to send one this time, don't worry. We'll do this again soon.