Florida shakes up its offensive staff

Published Feb. 6, 2004|Updated Aug. 27, 2005

Florida coach Ron Zook made a major change in his coaching staff Thursday, demoting Ed Zaunbrecher from offensive coordinator and replacing him with assistant Larry Fedora.

Zaunbrecher, 53, will remain as quarterbacks coach, a title he previously also held.

The announcement came one day after Florida landed one of the top 10 recruiting classes in the nation, according to several analysts, including touted quarterback Cornelius Ingram.

"I think this move on our coaching staff will allow us to take advantage of all of our strengths," Zook said in a statement. "Coach Fedora has a great offensive mind, and Coach Zaunbrecher has a proven track record with successfully grooming quarterbacks."

In his first season, Fedora was the run game coordinator/running backs coach. This past season, he was the perimeter game coordinator/receivers coach.

Fedora, 41, was the offensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State for three seasons before joining Zook's staff in 2002. During Fedora's tenure, the Blue Raiders averaged 424 yards of offense, 181 rushing yards and 31 points and set 43 school records and one NCAA record.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to be the offensive coordinator at Florida," Fedora said. "I'm even more excited about maintaining the continuity on our offensive staff. There are not many offensive coordinators in the country that have the luxury of leaning on the experience Ed Zaunbrecher brings to the table."

When Zook hired Zaunbrecher in 2002, he was expected to install a high-powered offense similar to the one under former coach Steve Spurrier.

Zaunbrecher has coached for 29 seasons and came to Florida after two seasons as Marshall's quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. He also has coached at LSU, Wake Forest, Purdue, Arizona and Michigan State.

Among his most successful players are former Heisman Trophy candidates and current NFL quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich. He has coached 36 players who have been drafted in the NFL, including six first-round picks.

But he often has been maligned since joining the Gators. In his first season, the offense struggled. Former quarterback Rex Grossman went from Heisman Trophy runnerup to struggling starter, leading Florida to an 8-5 season. Zook, Zaunbrecher and Grossman insisted it was a matter of mastering a new system.

Last season, quarterback Chris Leak was one of the top freshmen in the nation under Zaunbrecher, setting a school record for touchdowns (16) and passing yards (2,435) by a freshman.

But questions about Florida's offense remained. The Gators ranked 36th nationally in passing offense, averaging 245.4 yards, and 46th in total offense (391.3).

Midway through this past season, Zook denied Fedora was taking over more of the play-calling duties, saying he and Zaunbrecher were collectively involved.

"I've always done what the head coach has asked me to do," Zaunbrecher said in a statement released Thursday, "and will continue to do so."

Accused Miami recruit faced trouble before

MIAMI _ A top recruit was on probation for a felony burglary charge when he was named in three complaints during a recruiting trip to Florida. Linebacker Willie Williams was sentenced to 18 months' probation Aug. 12, 2002, according to the Florida Department of Corrections records.

The Palm Beach Post reported Williams has been arrested 10 times in the past five years. Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show Williams, then 14, was charged with petty larceny in 1999 and arrested five times in 2000, twice on felony charges.

Last weekend, authorities said he hugged a woman without permission, hit a man at a bar and set off three fire extinguishers.

Williams signed with UM on Wednesday.

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.