GAINESVILLE — Despite the criticism, the growing questions about play-calling and debate over option vs. dropback passing, don't expect Florida's offense to drastically change anytime soon.
As UF tries to rebound from a 25-point loss at Alabama and get ready for Saturday night's game against LSU and the league's No. 1 defense, Florida's coaches said the biggest problem with the Gator offense is lack of execution, not the offense as a whole.
"I don't think diversity is our issue right now. In fact it's really execution within that diversity right now," Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said. "Maintaining diversity and executing at a high level, that's where it's at, simply put."
The Gators are 84th nationally in total offense (339.8), No. 83 in passing (188.8) and No. 65 in rushing (151.0).
And as Florida's running game continues to struggle, coach Urban Meyer said it might be time to focus more on the passing game.
"There's reason to evaluate that," Meyer said. "I'm not sure we are willing to (retool). We have to play to our defense. Our job is to go win that game. If that means a much higher percentage of passing, then we will do that. If it means managing the game, then we will manage the game. That's kind of what we have done around here. I think we are getting a little better throwing the ball."
While quarterback John Brantley considers passing his strong suit, don't expect the Gators to abandon the option. Despite rampant criticism of its use with Brantley, the junior said he's fine running the option.
"I'm comfortable," he said. "I've been doing it for three years now, with Tim (Tebow) being here. I'm fairly comfortable with it. It's a little different, I've got to get used to it at game speed."
But it's not his forte. And Meyer has always said there is no set offense, but one built around the players. Brantley admittedly doesn't have the best skills for the option, but Addazio said it's critical element.
"What's going to happen is we're always going to operate percentage-wise a little differently based on who our guys are," Addazio said. "Right now, so you know with John Brantley and the option game, we're averaging 5 yards per carry. You need to have an element of option in your game so that you can keep the defense balanced, keep the defense honest and it's a part of who we are. That won't change. How many calls? That's going to be dictated by what we're seeing and what's happening."
With running back Jeff Demps limited with a sprained foot, the running game has struggled, and Meyer said someone has to help improve short-yardage situations. Florida was inside the red zone four times against Alabama and failed to get a touchdown.
"We have guys, Trey Burton, Mike Gillislee and Emmanuel Moody, who can do the job," Demps said. "They have the determination (to be strong in short yardage).
"Demps has to get healthy, and our running backs have got to play a little better than they did Saturday," Meyer added.
Florida offensive lineman Carl Johnson said the unit must take some responsibility for the short-yardage run game woes.
"If you're telling me that a back has to get just 1 yard, then my question would be where is his offensive line?" Johnson said. "Shouldn't they at least give them some kind of push? So it really shouldn't matter, even if we have Brantley running the ball, we should be able to get 1 yard."
LSU has the SEC's top defense and the No. 2 scoring defense. But Brantley said he's confident if the Gators execute better, the current offense will succeed.
"We fell short this past week, but we're going to keep doing what we're doing," he said.
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected] Check her blog at tampabay.com/blogs/gators.