Muschamp: New offense excites players
Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 12:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 9:54 p.m.
Under the burden of numerous injuries and other mitigating circumstances, Florida's offense became broken during a 4-8 season in 2013. Broken beyond repair, actually.
Rather than even attempt to try and fix it, UF football coach Will Muschamp made the decision to replace it, and that's what the Gators will start doing next week under new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper with the start of spring practice March 19.
“I know from the schematic standpoint, the guys are excited about what we're doing. That's good,” Muschamp said Tuesday. “You've got to have belief in what you're doing. I feel like that was a huge issue for us last season. We lost belief and confidence in what we were doing. It affected our entire team from the offensive side of the ball.”
Those difficult circumstances made the decision an easy one for Muschamp at the end of last season. He fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease and replaced him with Roper, whose spread, up-tempo, shotgun offense has had such great success at Duke the past several seasons.
Roper is installing a whole new offense, moving the Gators away from the pro-style attack they've been in since Muschamp replaced Urban Meyer in 2011.
Under Pease, the Gators went into last season planning to incorporate elements of the spread/shotgun/up-tempo into the offense, including adding more quarterback runs with the read option. But that plan had to be scrapped when starting quarterback Jeff Driskel was lost for the season when he sustained a broken lower leg in the first quarter of the third game of the season.
“We had a good plan last year going into the season to take more snaps, to still be a huddle team but at times create tempo during the game,” Muschamp said. “But when Jeff went down, that went out the window.
“That's something that we'll manage in each game and each situation (in the new offense). Kurt and I have talked a lot about those situations and when they come up, when we need to go fast, and when do we need to create tempo in the game and those sort of things. And we're going to do that. We need to take more snaps, that's the bottom line.”
Muschamp said he's gone back and broken down the UF offense from the 2012 season and the first part of the 2013 season and discovered that the Gators have actually been more productive out of the shotgun than under center.
“You look at all runs from 2012, you're right at 5.8, close to six yards a carry, which is outstanding, the best I've ever been around,” he said. “Then you look at runs from the gun, you're looking at close to seven yards a carry, 6.8. Runs from under center you're looking a little over four. So, obviously, the quarterback's legs have a lot to do with the run game being so efficient in what we're doing.
“Then you look at the passing game. From the gun, over 60-percent completion percentage, under 50 percent from under center. So, more explosive plays in the run game and in the passing game from the gun.
“Obviously, we're more comfortable in the gun situations. So that's why you hire Kurt Roper to come in here. ... His development at the quarterback position, attention to detail, and very positive with the kids. Very good positive response from our players. They're excited about where we are right now.”
Muschamp said the offense will undergo a “drastic change schematically,” but he's confident the Gators have players who will fit well into what Roper is installing.
“I really do. Yeah,” Muschamp said. ““I feel real comfortable with where we are from the opportunities we've had to meet with our players throughout these weeks. Kurt and I have talked extensively about our installation and what we need to do to be where we're very productive and feeling good about ourselves leaving spring practice, and we need to do that.”
The offensive player the Gators want to be the most comfortable in the new offense is the quarterback.
Although Driskel still has to compete for the starting job this spring, his skill set seems to match up well with what the quarterback is asked to do in the up-tempo spread.
“Jeff's been exposed to a lot since he's been here, schematically, so he'll be able to adjust well,” Muschamp said. “I think he's more comfortable in the gun. A lot of the reason why we went to this was because of Jeff, and (what we are doing) as we move forward at the quarterback position.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.