UF's Brent Pease says OL is Gators' strength

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease called the Gators' offensive line the strength of the offense.

That doesn't seem to make sense, though, when you consider the Gators have given up nine sacks in two games, chose a more mobile quarterback as the starter, and are struggling in short-yardage situations. But Pease has an answer for each of those issues.

Of the nine sacks, six are on quarterback Jeff Driskel, two are on the offensive line, and one is a receiver's fault. Driskel ran out of bounds on a bootleg against Bowling Green in the season opener and Pease said Driskel was to blame for five of the eight sacks they suffered against Texas A&M.

"We go back and study them," Pease said. "That’s what everybody on the outside always looks at -- the sacks. Go back and look. Out of eight sacks, two of them were ones that we needed to have better protection. You can’t put that (the rest of the sacks) on the O-line."

As for naming Driskel the starter over Jacoby Brissett, who is a pro-style pocket passer, Pease said that wasn't because the staff was worried that the offensive line would have trouble in pass protection.

"A running quarterback, that just adds to the flexibility of what a defense has to do," Pease said. "That has no effect on the offensive line either -- not being effective or being effective. It adds to where you can spread the ball around the in the running game."

UF has struggled in short-yardage situations. When facing 3 yards or less to go for a first down, the Gators are 5-of-20. One of those conversions came on a fake field goal against the Aggies. Pease, however, says to look at the running game as a whole and it's obvious the offensive line is doing a good job.

Taking away the eight sacks for minus-48 yards and two kneel downs for minus-9 yards, the Gators ran for 258 yards on 38 carries against the Aggies -- 6.8 yards per carry. Taking away one sack for minus-7 yards and one kneel down for minus-4 yards, the Gators ran for 231 yards on five carries against Bowling Green -- 5.8 yards per carry.

Even with the losses factored in, the Gators are averaging 181.0 yards per game. So that proves his point, Pease said.

"The strength of the team is our O-Line," Pease said. "I think they've been consistent from spring on."