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Florida Football: Three Risks Charlie Weis Should Take On Offense In 2011

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You know what I miss? The swashbuckling Florida offenses of yesteryear.

That doesn't mean Steve Spurrier's Fun 'n Gun alone, either, though I will admit that I play NCAA Football very much like Spurrier ran his Danny Wuerffel-led offenses. I miss big plays from game-breakers, and I miss hanging half a hundred on teams that aren't directional schools.

With that in mind, here are three risks I would love to see Charlie Weis take with the Florida offense in 2011.

Leverage speed in space: Urban Meyer's oft-stated goal of making his Gators the fastest team in America paid off on the recruiting trail, if not the field. Burners like Jeff Demps, Andre Debose, and Chris Rainey (and Deonte Thompson, I guess) can leave defenses choking on smoke if given room to operate. So Weis should try to do just that.

If he's not shackled to the dive plays Steve Addazio ran ad nauseam, Weis could make good use of Demps' speed on pitches and off-tackle runs like the ones he used to great effect with Jamaal Charles in Kansas City. Demps isn't a great east-west runner, but he can make a single cut and be 20 yards downfield in a hurry. And all four of those players have the sort of quickness to be used on end-arounds and reverses if Weis wants to mix things up.

Go deep: Easy and natural as it may sound, throwing deep was a bit of a foreign concept for Florida in 2010. The Gators were 108th in the nation in passing plays of 30+ yards, 76th in the country in passing plays of 20+ yards, and had just one completion of more than 50 yards.

The simple way to rectify that problem is to design plays that get receivers in single coverage down the field, and trust receivers to haul in deep passes. Thompson, whose hands will likely be the death something I own by the end of this fall, might not be the player who Florida can rely on to do that, but between him, Debose, Omarius Hines, Quinton Dunbar, and, say, Ja'Juan Story, there should at least be a conscious attempt to find a go-to big play receiver.

Permit yourself to play without panic: The best thing about having a Will Muschamp defense? It covers for some of the offense's mistakes. Muschamp's Texas defense was thoroughly underrated in 2010, and allowed the third-fewest plays of 10+ yards in the nation. 30 turnovers by the offense were part of the reason the Longhorns, who were mediocre as a scoring and total defense, were able to limit big plays: Muschamp's charges ended up defending short fields, which is slightly easier to do.

But the point stands that a Muschamp defense is stingy enough to allow for some risk-taking. If the Gators can keep opponents from running up big leads, Florida's playbook remains open enough to use the run to set up Weis' play-action throws and varied enough to prevent John Brantley from turning into a statue in the shotgun. Even a small deficit, for a team with a Muschamp defense, should be no reason to throw out gameplans; if Weis' intricate schemes need time to work, it should be his to use.