Notebook: Gators pushing offensive pace
Published: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 8:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 8:12 p.m.
New offensive coordinator Kurt Roper revealed Tuesday just how fast he wants the Gators’ hurry-up offense to go.
“We’re going to call plays that are really fast, that are around the 25-, 28-, 30-second range,” he said. “We’re going to call some plays that are around the five-second range. What we try to keep tabs of is that 18-second range. If we can get the ball snapped around 18 seconds on the play clock, then we’re keeping a pretty good tempo.
“But my biggest thing is execution. I never really talked in number of plays or how fast we’re going. We’re going to be a no-huddle, quick-tempo team. At the end of the day we want to look up and have points on the scoreboard. Typically that’s meant more plays in the past by going no-huddle.
“But we don’t just sit here and say, ‘hey, let’s go get 92 plays.’ We’ve got to execute. If we can score in two plays, let’s get off and let the other team run 10 plays and punt. That’s kind of the thought process.”
The battle for No. 2
Roper likes to go fast, but he’s not going to rush the decision on naming the No. 2 behind quarterback Jeff Driskel.
“We have a little bit more time,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is deciding the strengths and weaknesses each guy has and decide from there. But we’ll have to make decisions here pretty soon through the week and into next week and start trying to get more reps that way.
“I still think we’re in a competitive situation. Let’s keeping battling and see what they learn because everything is so new to these guys.”
Sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg and true freshmen Will Grier and Treon Harris are competing for the role.
Grier and Harris were put in full contact jerseys Tuesday and received most of the reps with the No. 2 offense.
“I see talent,” Roper said of Grier and Harris. “I see guys that are working hard that want to be good, that right now are confused because it is a bunch on their plate, it is a different game. It’s a brand new language. We do have a lot of routes, so it takes a little bit of time to pick up. But I see talented players.”
Roper said he’s trying to teach Grier and Harris timing and making sure they get the ball out of their hand when passing plays are called.
“These (defensive) guys are trying to get back there and hurt them,” Roper said. “In high school there’s so much seven-on-seven that’s played at a four-second pace. It really trains bad habits. Nobody is getting hit. Nobody is in front of them. They’re blowing a horn at four seconds. That’s not real world.
“When you have a guy like (Jadeveon) Clowney rushing you, that is below three seconds. And then it’s 270 pounds of pain. They need to understand if they want to stay healthy, they’ve got to throw the football.”
Roper said he has a simple rule for young quarterbacks.
“When I call a pass, I want you to throw the ball,” he said. “That’s hard for young guys to do because they don’t know the route concepts, so their inclination is to keep it and run. Well, you’re not running past Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler. So simple rule: When I call a pass, throw it. Make a decision. We’ll learn from our mistakes, but be decisive. If a guy can’t be decisive, it’s hard for him to play.”
Roper said Grier coming from a small private school is not a negative factor in his transition to this level.
“I think the biggest thing is that’s changing over time,” Roper said. “Back when my dad was coaching, you’d go into 4A and 5A high schools and that’s where you stayed. Now, you go anywhere to find talent. People are showing up anywhere.
“It didn’t concern me. I think he’s got to understand the game is faster, and that’s a process. That doesn’t happen overnight. The guys that are on the defensive front are different than the guys he faced in high school.”
Going for master’s
After graduating from UF on Saturday, Driskel will begin pursuing a master’s degree in sports management this fall.
“It’s nice to get (the undergraduate degree) out of the way and potentially walk away from here with a master’s degree,” Driskel said.
Driskel was excused from Saturday’s practice to go through graduation ceremonies.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I had some family in town, some friends. It was nice to get away for a few hours and spend some time with my family. They enjoyed it.
“It’s something nice in my life I can say I did.”
Starting safety Keanu Neal is missing the fingernail on his right index finger and has bruises on his knees and other body parts after being the latest player to wipe out on a scooter. The accident occurred the week before the start of camp.
“I lost a fingernail. It doesn’t bother me anymore,” Neal said. “It kind of scared me a little bit.”
Neal’s girlfriend, Kytra Hunter, was on the scooter with him. She is a member of the UF gymnastics team.
“She landed and skid on her stomach and kicked her legs back. I’m like tumbling and hitting every part of my body,” Neal said. “She came out with a little scratch and I came out with everything scratched.”
UF coach Will Muschamp poked a little fun at Neal, but said he has not made a rule about players riding scooters.
“Keanu Neal got fortunate. He had a tire slip this summer,” Muschamp said. “His girlfriend is a gymnast. She’s a much better athlete than him. Nothing happened to her. He messed his finger up. She’s a lot better athlete. I should have recruited her.
“But, no, I haven’t made that rule. It’s something we emphasize with our players. We tell them about it. They’ve got to understand being careful. They can’t live in a glass bubble. That’s just something that can’t be done.”