Notes on Florida's Offensive Transition

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get a few things straight here.

Jeremy Foley has had a recent history of running a tight ship when it comes to coaching hires. Will Muschamp's name did not leak until just before the press conference. Same goes for Charlie Weis. Brent Pease's name came out four days ahead of his hiring after nearly a month of the position being open. If you see something a name leaked in relation to the search, it's probably not going to be correct.

In other words, don't bother with following this subject as a day-to-day issue for a while.

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As for the substance of the change:

This news is interesting, particularly given some of the cryptic-in-hindsight quotes Muschamp had during the season. Take this one after the Missouri loss:

"I want to spread it out like everybody else does, but you know what? We have a hard time protecting the quarterback — more than most teams do."

Now square that with something that the Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley reported today:

A lot of people will tell you that we’re about to find out how far Will Muschamp is willing to go as far as his offense goes, but the truth was Muschamp planned to have an offense this year very similar to what Urban Meyer ran with Tim Tebow at Florida. The injury to Jeff Driskel killed that and the other injuries kept ripping off the Band-Aids.

I am not sure I'd say the injury to Driskel alone killed that. Take out sacks and Driskel had six carries against Toledo and seven against Miami (FL) in his only full games. Those are hardly Tebowesque carry totals, and I am fairly certain that some of those were scrambles on called pass plays. Rather than opening things up to an Urban Meyer-like offense, it seemed like Florida was holding him back from running, knowing that Tyler Murphy was a significant drop off. I certainly don't have the sources that Dooley does, but I don't think it's quite as cut-and-dried as he makes it out to be.

I am also relatively certain that running an Urban Meyer-like offense would have still been a relative failure. To pull it off, you must have something that UF didn't have this year: plenty of good wide receivers. Meyer's offense looked awful at times in 2005 thanks in large part to a dearth of good wideouts; at one point, he was regularly playing a walk on receiver. In 2009 the Tebow-led offense fell way off of the peaks of the previous two seasons, and again, the team didn't have a lot of good targets. It was not unusual to see five-wide empty sets where two or three of the guys out wide were running backs.

I have no doubt that had no one gotten hurt, the offense would have been better than it was in 2012. Let's not get carried away, though.

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Finally, I saw a couple of people suggest that Muschamp undergoing a big schematic change might be a gambit to earn himself not just one but two more years. After all, don't you have to wait the transition out?

The answer is no, not if you're in this league. The recent SEC coaching graveyard is littered with embattled head coaches who brought in fresh blood at coordinator, saw those guys not fix things immediately, and then got their walking papers. Tommy Tuberville with Tony Franklin, Phil Fulmer with Dave Clawson, Gene Chizik with Scot Loeffler, and Derek Dooley with Sal Sunseri all brought in coordinators who promised big schematic changes. All four were out of a job a year later.

Maybe Muschamp will go for a dramatic change. I'm already on the record as calling that a bad idea if he wants to stay employed. There is plenty of middle ground between the ground-and-pound scheme the team has used to minimal offensive success over the past two seasons and some exotic new spread option-type scheme. If the new regime is too big a departure from what they've been doing, Muschamp will get fired next winter. Something like what Kevin Sumlin has run at Texas A&M might be doable, though again I'm not sure the Gators have enough receivers to make it happen, but going full-on Meyer or RichRod spread option is going to take more time than what Muschamp has left.

We'll see who Florida ends up going with, but make no mistake. It has to be evident to the dumbest Florida fan out there that the new offense is a major improvement or else the whole house is getting cleaned.

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