GAINESVILLE (AP) — A person familiar with the situation says Florida has fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease after the program’s first losing season since 1979.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because it has not been officially announced.
Pease was let go a day after the Gators (4-8) ended the season with a humbling, 37-7 loss to rival Florida State. Offensive line coach Tim Davis also was let go, according to the person.
The moves had been expected for weeks, as the losses mounted and it became clear coach Will Muschamp would make changes on the offensive side of the ball.
Pease and Davis were the primary scapegoats for a dismal season that included a dreadful offense and the worst loss in school history. The Gators finished the season ranked 112th in total offense. Florida managed just 279 yards in a 26-20 loss to lower-division Georgia Southern on Nov. 23 and then 193 against the Seminoles.
Florida’s offense was ravaged by injuries, losing quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Matt Jones, receiver Andre Debose and three offensive tackles for the season. Backup quarterback Tyler Murphy also missed the final three games with a sprained throwing shoulder, leaving third-stringer Skyler Mornhinweg to start.
The injuries surely were a viable excuse for this season, but they can’t be blamed for Florida’s offense being ranked in the triple digits for three consecutive years.
Pease replaced Charlie Weis and handled play-calling duties the last two years. He joined Muschamp after six years at Boise State, choosing Florida over Alabama — a decision he surely regrets now.
Pease was saddled with a first-year starting quarterback in 2012 (Driskel), a bungling offensive line and few, if any, playmakers. And the team’s receivers coach resigned at the beginning of fall practice. Still, the Gators won 11 games last season and earned a spot in the Sugar Bowl.
Pease’s second year was supposed to be better.
But Driskel (broken leg) and Jones (knee) went down early in the season, joining Debose (knee) and right tackle Chaz Green (labrum) on the sideline.
So Pease was stuck calling plays with a third-string quarterback down the stretch.
And it surely didn’t help that Pease spent two years running the kind of offense Muschamp wanted — a run-heavy, try-to-wear-defenses-down style that leads to close games and leaves little margin for error.
The offensive line was the biggest problem the last two years, allowing 66 sacks during Davis’ tenure.
“I think Will is a really good self-evaluator,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said Saturday. “He can look in the mirror and isn’t afraid to take responsibility for what’s happened. … We look at ourselves and how we get better. Not just sit here and say, ‘Yeah, we’ve got a bunch of injuries, we’ll be fine.’ That better not be our attitude. It better be our attitude to reevaluate every single facet of what we’re doing and get this thing fixed.
“Yeah, it stinks. It stinks for every Gator fan. This season has been no fun because we care.”
Florida owes Pease about $1.2 million for the remaining two years on his contract. It’s unclear what direction Muschamp will go with his third offensive coordinator in four years, but the better question is what will the offense look like after the change.
“We need to take a look at ourselves schematically with what we’re doing,” Muschamp said Saturday. “There have been some things that have happened that are very difficult to overcome, but schematically there’s no question we need to take a look at ourselves. … I’m willing to do what we need to do to score points and win games.”
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