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Coordinator Charlie Weis wants more out of Florida Gators offense

Florida’s receivers, including Deonte Thompson (looking to evade Tennessee’s Marsalis Teague, left, and Prentiss Waggner), have caught 28 passes. In contrast, running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps and all-purpose player Trey Burton have combined for 24.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Florida’s receivers, including Deonte Thompson (looking to evade Tennessee’s Marsalis Teague, left, and Prentiss Waggner), have caught 28 passes. In contrast, running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps and all-purpose player Trey Burton have combined for 24.

GAINESVILLE — Among SEC teams, Florida's offense is ranked among the upper half in the major categories: points per game (fifth), rushing yards per game (fourth), passing yards per game (fifth) and total yards per game (fourth). And the No. 15 Gators are undefeated heading into Saturday's game at Kentucky.

But offensive coordinator Charlie Weis isn't celebrating.

"Actually, I'm pretty disappointed," Weis said. "Am I content that we've been able to move the ball pretty consistently in the first three games? Yes, but I think anyone who really is meticulous in preparation at this stage of the season finds a lot of faults in things we've done. I think we can get a lot better on offense than we are right now."

Florida has not shown a power running game. Running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps and all-purpose player Trey Burton have nearly as many combined catches (24) and receiving yards (331) as the seven receivers (28 for 365). And the Gators have scored only nine touchdowns among 16 possessions inside the red zone.

Yet getting better does not necessarily mean doing things differently. Coach Will Muschamp said the Gators are content to go with what's working right now.

"I think you … take what the defense is giving you," Muschamp said. "What we've been doing has been working against the soft zone. We would love to throw nine routes every snap if we could."

For now, opponents seem content with heavy coverage downfield, as if daring the Gators to let Demps and Rainey run free. They have combined for 72 carries for 469 yards and four touchdowns.

"They're in the game plan and everything, but we take what the defense gives us," quarterback John Brantley said. "That's one of the things Coach Weis stresses to me. We try to get everyone involved as much as we can. We're just going to take what the defense gives us. And if that means checking down every throw, then that's what it is."

Weis' disappointment aside, it's still an improvement from last season. Going up-tempo to begin games, the Gators have scored on their first possession in each one and have 33 first-quarter points.

Compare that with last season, when the Gators scored on their first possession just three times all season and scored just 56 points in first quarters.

"The philosophy of the offense is you throw it to what the coverage dictates you throw it to," said Weis, who scripts the game's first 12-24 plays. "We never believe that you take one guy and say we're going to throw it to him 15 times in a game. Now sometimes the way you play and what they're calling, that's what ends up happening. But you don't go into a game saying, 'Hey we're going to throw to him this many times.'

"In that first game, (Florida Atlantic was) playing a soft cover (zone). And (Brantley's) looking vertical down the field, and they are saying go ahead, throw it to Rainey in the flat. So we threw it to Rainey in the flat."

Weis said third-down efficiency (31 percent), turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble) and penalties (seven last week) and the red zone offense are major concerns.

What is not a concern, he said, is Brantley.

The senior is 47-of-72 for 637 yards (fourth in the SEC at 212.3 per game) and three touchdowns. Weis said it's a testament to Brantley's maturity at the position.

"All quarterbacks want to throw the ball down the field," Weis said. "But to have the patience to not throw it down the field when the defense is saying, 'Go ahead, we'll give you this, but we won't give you that,' that's a very strong positive."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

Coordinator Charlie Weis wants more out of Florida Gators offense 09/22/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2011 9:49pm]
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