UF's uptempo offense debuts
Published: Friday, April 11, 2014 at 12:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 12:16 a.m.
There seems to be unanimous agreement among Florida coaches and players that the Gators’ offense is better, that it is more potent and a more comfortable fit for quarterback Jeff Driskel.
If you go:
What: Orange & Blue Debut
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
TV: Tape-delay on Sun Sports at 5 p.m.
Format: Four, 12-minute quarters with a running clock. The clock will stop during the two-minute drill at the end of each half.
Now, everyone else is going to have a chance to see what they think.
Today’s spring game is all about Kurt Roper and the shotgun/spread/uptempo offense that he’s been installing over the past month.
Roper’s offense has been the theme of the spring — and that figures to continue today in the Orange & Blue Debut in The Swamp.
Practices have been open, but scrimmages have not, so this will be the public’s first chance to see just how much the offense has changed under Roper, the new offensive coordinator who brought a track record of success with him from Duke.
Florida coach Will Muschamp said earlier in the week that the fans will be pleased with what they see today out of the offense.
The players — both offensive and defensive — have been saying it (and tweeting about it) since early in the spring.
“It’s a great offense,” sophomore tailback Kelvin Taylor said. “We are going to be very explosive and we’re just having a great time doing it."
The defensive players, who received almost no support from the dormant offense last fall, seem impressed.
“Everybody is really picking up the scheme and able to make plays in the offense,” senior linebacker Michael Taylor said. “I think if you've got the ball in your hands in this offense, you can make plays."
In its debut today, the offense will take a simple and sound approach, Roper said.
“No different than any other game,” he said. “What you want to see from the offense is really, ‘Hey, let’s get the right personnel on the field, let’s get lined up, let’s get set with motion. Get the ball snapped before the play clock runs out and let’s have possession of the ball at the end of the play.’
“If we’ll do those things and look like a well-coached offense and guys are locked in, we’re going to make plays in this offense. That’s going to happen. There’s enough opportunities that will take place. But the biggest thing is not beating ourselves, so going out there and looking like a well-coached team.”
A lot of attention today, of course, will be on Driskel, who distanced himself from the other quarterbacks early in the spring and has been consistent (and appears comfortable) running the new offense.
"The first thing that jumps out to me about Jeff is a guy that physically has the skills to be a successful quarterback in the SEC,” Roper said. “That's really where it starts. Is a guy physically capable of getting it done? And his size, his athleticism, his arm strength, those things are really, really good. He's got the ability to do that.
"I think Jeff is capable of running really any offense you ask him to run, because I think he is a guy that possesses the ability to throw the football. And if you do that, you can play in really any style offense.”
Driskel and the other offensive players seem to have picked up the basics of the offense fairly quickly, something Roper predicted would happen when he was hired in January.
Spreading the field and going at a fast pace, the offense has consistently made plays this spring, using all parts of the field and involving all the skill players.
“I think our guys have a good understanding of what we’re trying to do offensively,” Roper said. “In 15 days, what you want them to be able to understand is, ‘What is our base? Who are we? What are we trying to accomplish offensively?’ I think they’ve got a good start and understanding on that.
“So, now leading into the summer, they can keep growing in that realm and then we have another 29 practice opportunities before our first game next season. So I think in these 15 practices, our guys know what we are offensively, who we are offensively, and the direction it’s going to go. I think they have a good understanding of what our base is.”
Muschamp said earlier in the week that the offense is ahead of where he thought it would be at this time.
“There are still some things that we've got to get better at and clean up, but I'm pleased with where we are,” Muschamp said.
Although there is more growing to do, Roper said enough of the offense is already in place for the Gators to go play games.
“Everything that we have in right now, we have enough to go play any game that we play next year,” he said. “Now, there’s always game-plan things that you work in a week that’s going to be altered or added, but we don’t need to do those right now because we’re not playing team 1, 2, 3 or 4.
“Right now we’re going through spring dealing with our defense, so there’s always things that come in when we get ready for a game week that we don’t have to have right now. So, I get right back to the base, and they understand the base. We can now add to that as we need to during the season."
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.