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Brent Pease: Year Two

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Running back Matt Jones and the Florida offense have transformed under Brent Pease, whose philosophy is a perfect match for defensive-minded head coach Will Muschamp. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.
Running back Matt Jones and the Florida offense have transformed under Brent Pease, whose philosophy is a perfect match for defensive-minded head coach Will Muschamp. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

After the departure of Urban Meyer, Will Muschamp came into Gainesville promising an NFL-level coaching staff, and a professional program in the college ranks. Part of that process, he said, was abandoning the collegiate spread offense and installing new pro-type offensive and defensive schemes. Since Muschamp's only experience came on the defensive side of the ball, people were interested in who would run the offense.

Enter Charlie Weis. The failed Notre Dame coach was bringing his “decided schematic advantage” to Florida. The reaction was mixed to say the least, but Muschamp delivered on his promise. In his first season, Muschamp assembled an NFL-level coaching staff and started transforming Florida from the fastest team in the South into the hard-nosed team we see today.

After a disappointing first season, Weis bolted for Kansas when they offered him a head coaching job for reasons unknown to Florida fans. With a big hole in his coaching staff, Muschamp zeroed on Brent Pease, the offensive coordinator from Boise State. Muschamp battled with his old boss Nick Saban for Pease's services and convinced him to come to Gainesville.

While Boise State is known for its trick plays, power running has always been its bread and butter. It was Pease’s pro style power running attack that brought him to Florida, a match made in heaven for Muschamp's defense. Under Weis, the offense threw for 2,414 yards and rushed for 1,859 more. Weis used speed backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey on the wings, and had John Brantley throwing crossing patterns over the middle. Weis tried to blend Meyer’s players with his scheme and under-utilized the fleet of track stars at his disposal. It resulted in a stagnant offense, often putting the defense in bad field position yielding too many points.

Pease really flipped the script of the Florida offense. With Pease, the Gators put up 2,440 rushing yards and only 1,902 yards passing. He changed the paradigm. Most of Meyer’s standouts had graduated and Pease was able to use fresh faces that suited his scheme. Pease abandoned Weis’ bubble screens and shotgun sets for the I formation and “God’s play,” a read-option counter out of the I formation or strong sets. Pease is truly Muschamp’s offensive counterpart. He traded in finesse and speed for power and toughness.

Florida got results. The Gators became a ball-controlling Alabama lite. They ran the ball on first down, ran the ball on second down, and went to play action on third, only if they had to. While many fans clamored for the eye-popping stats of Meyer’s Gators and longed to see 60-yard touchdowns, no one complained when Florida cruised to an 11-1 regular season record.

Pease was even able to turn Mike Gillislee from a mere change of pace back into an offensive MVP. Gillislee put up 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns under Pease, and he wasn’t even a great fit. Now Pease has 226 pounds of concrete and cyanide in running back Matt Jones. Florida hasn’t had a running back with workhorse size in nearly a decade, but he has come along at the perfect time. This year, fans will get an even better look into the type of team that Muschamp and Pease want the Gators to become.

After going through three offensive coordinators in three seasons, many of the players are relieved to finally have some consistency on that side of the ball. Muschamp commented on the difference this spring, saying he noticed that his coaches did not have to teach scheme but were able to teach technique during spring ball. With this consistency, coaches, players and fans will be looking for progression. Not surprisingly, Pease targeted the wide receivers and quarterback as the positions needing improvement.

Pease is looking to develop quarterback Jeff Driskel and spark the offense to produce a few more big plays, in hopes that the Gators will be in the BCS hunt