Florida receiver Andre Debose has plenty of talent. That's never been questioned. But Debose has also never maximized that talent.
He showed sparks at times last season, scoring four touchdowns on long receptions with back-to-back 65-yard scores against Alabama and LSU, and as a returner, bringing back a kick 99 yards for a touchdown in the Gator Bowl victory against Ohio State. But he's also disappeared, like in last Saturday's game when we didn't see the field in the first half. He has failed to make a catch this season and has been used primarily as a kick returner, but even that role has diminished of late.
Coach Will Muschamp had little to say after the game against Kentucky, but he elaborated more Monday on the situation with Debose. Like has been said for seasons, Debose has issues, and it doesn't seem to be improving. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease was asked about Debose on Wednesday and had some interesting things to say.
Here's the transcript:
On Debose's practice habits, Muschamp said specifically it's effort, is he not running hard on routes in practice or what specifically does that mean?
Pease: "It's one, he's got to get comfortable and do it consistently with what we're doing in the offense, and, you know, there's a trust. There's a trust factor there. You go out there, you're gonna run the right route. You're gonna do it hard, whether you're covered or not. Because sometimes running a route, it isn't always built for you. Depending on what the coverage does, you've got to open it up for other players, if they double team you, or play a cloud coverage over the top of you and you got to stretch the safeties. And if you don't do that you hurt your teammates. So it's just a combination of being consistent, understanding, playing effort all the way through. Because, even as a receiver, you're covered at times. You have to compete. You have to continue to try to get yourself open. You can't say, 'Well I'm covered. I'm done running my route.' And just accept the fact you're covered. That's unacceptable."
Making it sound like he doesn't have full grasp of playbook.
Pease: "I never said that."
That's what it sounded like. Is that the case?
Pease: "I never said that. I just think it's going out and competing consistently every day. And understanding what you got to do in this offense. It's not really that he doesn't understand it. It's just about going out and being there every day, so there's a trust factor, you know, in the give and take. And when the ball is in your hands, making plays."
You think you can fix that with him?
Pease: "Yeah. He's got great ability. He's just got to be consistent."
You have big plans for him if he can get it?
Pease: "I think anybody that's got a talent like he does, you know, there's always a role. I've never really been in an offense where it's centered around one guy. But when you put a guy with his speed on one side. I mean however you configured it. Jordan (Reed) over here, and Mike (Gillislee) in the backfield and Trey (Burton) right here. It's not so much about him, it's about what the defensive coordinator's got to handle and what they've got to account for. So how you fit in, and how you are unselfish in everything that you do and open it up, or people worry about Jordan Reed on the other side of the field. Or they worry about Trey Burton on the other side of the field. Now you're singled up. You take advantage of those things. If you don't take advantage of those things when your number is called, I mean, why? Why not? That's your job. That's your responsibility. Get it done."
When you're talking about trust, you're not talking about trusting he knows what to do...(Pease interrupts question)
Pease: "I'm talking about trusting that I can put him out there and he will make a play for us doing it the right way, the way the play is called."
My take: Needless to say, Debose has some thing to sort out before he becomes a regular contributor for the Florida offense. Perhaps the bye week also comes at a good time for Debose, who needs to show the coaching staff that he can be counted on. It sounds like they want him on the field, but as I have thought for a while now, it seems Muschamp and Pease believe the risk simply outweighs the potential reward.