Every time a new head coach takes over at Florida, the speculation begins about what his first offensive play call will be in the opening game, especially if it’s an offensive coach like Steve Spurrier or Dan Mullen.
So, what’s your prediction for Mullen’s first offensive play?
Here’s mine: a play-action pass to the tight end on a seam route.
Yeah, I like that call.
Because we’re already talking about that possible first play (at least I am), I thought it would be a good time to look back on the last five UF coaches and what their calls were.
Here we go:
Steve Spurrier (1990 against Oklahoma State)
Nothing tricky from the offensive mastermind, just a classic downfield pass from Shane Matthews to Ernie Mills for a 26-yard gain that drew a huge cheer from a Florida Field crowd that had been starving for offense.
It was just the start.
On the next play, Matthews found Tre Everett for 17 yards. A play later, it was Matthews-to-Mills again, this time for 22 yards. Two plays later, Dexter McNabb scored on a run from two yards out.
Just like that, the Fun ‘n’ Gun had been launched in a 50-7 victory over the Cowboys. The opening drive covered 70 yards in six plays and took only 1:50 off the clock.
Ron Zook (2002 against UAB)
Following in Spurrier’s footsteps, the obvious call would have been a pass downfield. And that’s exactly what Zook went with. Quarterback Rex Grossman launched a deep ball to Taylor Jacobs that went for a 59-yard gain. The drive ended four plays later with Earnest Graham scoring on a 3-yard run.
In the 51-3 rout of the Blazers, Zook’s first drive covered 79 yards in five plays and took only 1:28. Unfortunately for him and the Gators, it was not an indication of things to come in the ill-fated Zook era.
Urban Meyer (2005 against Wyoming)
Just like Spurrier and Zook, Meyer wanted to establish right away that he was going to spread the field vertically, so he opened with a deep pass.
Meyer, however, failed to get the same results that Spurrier and Zook did. Chris Leak’s bomb to Andre Caldwell was incomplete, and Meyer’s opening UF drive turned out to be a quick three-and-out. The Gators still managed to go on to a comfortable 32-14 victory.
Will Muschamp (2011 against FAU)
Knowing “Boom” the way we do, what do you think his first offensive play call was? You’re right. It was a run right up the middle.
The good news is that it turned out to be a 12-yard gain by Chris Rainey that eventually led to a 51-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis. That opening drive in a 41-3 victory was very Muschamp like: 13 plays, only 37 yards and 6:32 burned off the clock.
Jim McElwain (2015 against New Mexico State)
An offensive-minded coach known for developing quarterbacks and having success in the passing game, McElwain decided to take the Muschamp route with his first play. He sent running back Kelvin Taylor off right guard for a 6-yard gain. The drive went nowhere from there. For the record, it was a five-play, 11-yard drive. But it didn’t matter. The Gators went on to crush New Mexico State 61-13.