Urban Cryer earned his nickname last year after The Celebration in Jacksonville and his consistent whiny demeanor has held it well intact. His offseason talk about putting Tebow under center more and utilizing running backs in more pro-style offensive sets has me wondering if he’s soon to be not only Urban Cryer, but also Urban Liar.
Meyer has been running the same (very effective) offense for a while now at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. Nothing about it has ever put the QB under center by choice, used running backs in “traditional” pro styles or as Blutarksy often points out, given a running back more than 1000 yards in a season.
But he swears that whether its to help Tebow’s draft stock or by his own accord the Florida offense will run out of the shotgun less this year and under center significantly more. Whether or not this happens to be the case is honestly irrelevant for this season. Florida could probably run miserable tactical schemes in every game and still win more often than not. And Tebow will not turn into a bumbling, mistake-prone QB if he takes more snaps under center than in seasons past.
Where this gets interesting, however, is in the promises being made by Meyer to running back recruits like Georgian Mack Brown who surprisingly committed to the Gators last weekend. Brown said the turning point for him was a film session with Meyer and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio where they showed him how he would get the ball in these supposedly forthcoming pro style sets. Where Meyer found film of his teams doing this beats me, but it apparently happened.
Such claims from Meyer aren’t that surprising as Florida has seen an increasing number of offensive skill players opt to play at places like Georgia, Southern Cal and even Tennessee because those program run offenses that translate better to the next level. It’s a situation that really does put him in a bind in the long run. If you’re missing the best talent because they don’t like your system it would seem that changing the system would be the answer. But when you look at the offensive production of Meyer’s teams you have to wonder why he would tinker with such a well-oiled machine. He’s running an offense meant to put less athletic teams (like Bowling Green and Utah) at an advantage except now he’s got some of the nation’s greatest talent.
So we’re bound to see one of two things happen over the next few years. The first option is that Meyer really does begin to run a slightly more traditional offense. But this will be interesting to see because it’s not like pro-style sets and his version of the spread will be easily meshed together. But maybe he’ll find a way for them to coexist. The other possibility is that he doesn’t make good on these promises. How often Tebow sneaks up under center this year may be a good indicator of how serious Meyer is about this idea. But if backs like Mack Brown buy his sales pitch and then get caught in an offense that never highlights their play in traditional ways Meyer will only be believable for so long.
I know that some may be surprised that I so freely accuse Meyer of knowingly lying to these prep stars, but let me remind you that this is the same man who recruited Jevan Snead by telling him Tim Tebow would only be playing linebacker. We’re not talking about Richt-esque integrity here.
The fact is that Meyer’s offense is nearly unstoppable when the most talented QBs, receivers and running backs are plugged in the right places. The problem for him is that all those collegiate players want to (and usually can) play in the NFL and he’s developing a reputation for not helping them get there as much as other coaches can. So he’s being forced to adapt. I, for one, won’t believe he’s changing his offense until I see Tim Tebow line up under center and hand the ball off to a running back following a fullback off the right guard. If he’s not telling the whole truth it will be interesting to see how long recruits continue to believe him. If he is telling the complete truth I’m eagerly anticipating the debut of his pro-style offense. Anything will be more easily defended than his spread.