GAINESVILLE -- The point of Urban Meyer's spread-option offense is to create mismatches on the field. Meyer said last week that his offense is going to be more traditional this year. That's an over simplification, of course. That only means quarterback John Brantley won't double as the Gators' fullback. The spread-option offense isn't going anywhere at Florida, even if Brantley lines up under center in the red zone on Saturday. Just to help with any confusion, here are all the Gators' SLASH players who will create mismatches and make the spread-option work this season ...
1. OMARIUS HINES, 6-0, 219 pounds (Nice earring! Is that a Christmas ornament or a seashell?)
Listed position: tight end
Possible positions: tight end, slot receiver, wideout, H-back
Function in the spread offense: Hines is listed as a tight end but he's actually an oversized slot receiver. He will do a lot of the same things that UF tight end Aaron Hernandez did in 2009, but don't think of him as a carbon copy of Hernandez. Hines is much faster than Hernandez and will require defensive backs to cover him. This could help create mismatches in UF passing game and running game. Oh, and remember that shovel pass Hernandez would always catch from Tebow last season? Hines says that play is in the playbook for him this season.
2. CHRIS RAINEY, 5-9, 176 pounds
Listed position: slot receiver
Possible positions: slot receiver, running back
Function in the spread offense: Rainey is in the Percy Position. UF is hoping it will get more production out of the spot this year than in 2009. (No offense, Brandon James.) Rainey will run plenty of short patterns and motion inside as a running back. This is what I like to call the flag-football position of the Florida Gators' offense.
3. ANDRE DEBOSE, 5-11, 176 pounds
Listed position: wideout
Possible positions: wideout, slot receiver, running back
Function in the spread offense: Debose is Deonte Thompson's back-up on the outside, but Debose isn't exactly the same type of player as Thompson. From the outside, Debose can do a lot of things for the Gators, including run reverses.
Function in the spread offense: Reed is out of action for the first game with a bruised knee. When he returns, he will do a lot of things at tight end. UF coach Urban Meyer called Reed the Gators' "ace in the hole" at the QB position.
5. TREY BURTON, 6-2, 219 pounds
Listed position: quarterback
Possible positions: tight end, H-back, fullback, quarterback
Function in the spread offense: So, here's your Tebow clone, at least in the running game. Coaches love Burton and he'll likely line up in the backfield along with quarterback John Brantley. Two quarterbacks in the backfield, you say? Yes, think of the possibilities!
Possible positions: slot receiver
Function in spread offense: Clark, a true freshman from West Palm Beach Dwyer, is one of the big surprises of the Gators' 2010 recruiting class. He is currently to the back-up to Rainey at the Percy position. Clark is small but apparently plays with a mean streak and doesn't shy away from contact. If Rainey separates his shoulder at some point this season, then Clark could play a big role for the Gators this season.
Listed position: fullback
Possible functions: fullback, tight end, H-back
Function in the spread offense: Christian is currently the back-up at fullback behind T.J. Pridemore. That's more out of necessity than anything. Christian's future is at tight end at UF and that future could come sooner rather than later if Christian develops rapidly in practice this season.