Gators start spring practice with focus on Roper's new scheme
Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 7:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 8:55 p.m.
With a new offense (and offensive coordinator) comes renewed hope for the Florida Gators, who are now eager to start distancing themselves from the massive mess that piled up around them in a 4-8 season last fall.
The cleansing process begins with the opening of spring football practice today.
“Excited about being on the field again,” UF coach Will Muschamp said. “Very frustrating, disappointing fall for all of us at the University of Florida. We need to get things turned back around. That's what we plan on doing.
“We have made the appropriate changes, in my opinion, to have a very good football team this fall, and we will.”
The turnaround starts on offense, where new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will be installing his up-tempo, spread offense. Muschamp said the early feedback from the offensive players has been all good.
“They're excited about where we are right now,” Muschamp said. “(We) haven't gotten on the field and done a lot where football is concerned. I know from the schematic standpoint, the guys are excited about what we're doing. That's good. You've got to have belief in what you're doing. I'm excited about that.”
While much of the spring focus will center around Roper and the new offense, there are some other priorities that will be addressed.
Muschamp said the Gators also need to become more consistent on defense and clean up the place-kicking portion of special teams, a facet of UF's game that may have been even less productive than the injury-depleted offense last season.
“Our kicking situation was atrocious last year. We've got to get that fixed,” Muschamp said. "Defensively, we just need to be more consistent. Very inconsistent last year. I think it starts up front with playing blocks up front better. We need to be more productive with our front guys, more production from the linebacker position.
“We're inexperienced at the defensive back position, but I think maybe it's as talented as we've been since we've been here. Excited about what we have back there, athletically, watching those guys move around.”
Overall, of course, perhaps the No. 1 goal for the Gators this spring is to be positive and separate themselves from a disastrous season.
Muschamp said it's happening.
“Really, at this time of the year, there are a couple of things you're looking for — a belief and confidence in what we're doing. I see that with our team,” he said. “Ownership of the team. I feel good about that. Accountability across the board with our football team and a really good work ethic. Generally, what you put in is what you get out. I think our guys are putting in a lot right now and I'm pleased with where we are."
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.