Roper has UF offense on go
Published: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 11:39 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 11:39 a.m.
Less than two weeks into camp, Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper has already almost lost his voice.
That, apparently, is a good sign for the Gators — and their new offense.
“My daughter, she came by last night and she said, 'Dad, what happened to your voice?' I said, 'Everything's been going perfect, that's what,' ” Roper said Tuesday.
“I am excited. I think you always get excited for the start of a new season. You don't know what the challenges are going to be yet as you start moving forward. But I think we've got some really good football players. So, I think we have a good group that is working.”
Things may not be exactly perfect, but Roper said he does like where his offense is at the moment, and where it's headed. And he really, really likes his quarterback, an excellent starting point for any offensive coordinator.
"I've enjoyed every second of it,” Roper said of his growing relationship with junior quarterback Jeff Driskel. “He's a good person. I like being around really good people. That's fun for me. That's one of the things that's important to me in evaluation. A guy that is accountable and does what he says he's going to do. He's that kind of person.
“He's a guy you can hang your hat on as a person. He's fun to be around and he's obviously a really talented football player, so he's fun to coach that way. But it's been a lot of fun to get to know him and all the guys."
Roper knows Driskel and the players now — and how they fit into his spread, uptempo offense. It's still early in the process, but so far, so good.
“I think they've got a really good understanding of what we're asking them to do. Our base offense, I should say,” Roper said. “The guys that were around for those 15 days (in the spring); our two offensive lines, our two quarterbacks. Really the young guys, it's a battle right now to have great understanding because it is so new to them and our defense is so multiple and causes so many problems.
“But the guys that have been in the battles before, they can apply experiences to what we're teaching them offensively. I think they have a really good understanding of what we're doing. And now you're seeing situational work, like short yardage today, that we put things in that are gameplan specific that they've picked up really well.”
Roper said he's been pleased with the timing of the offense, which has been pretty consistent making plays against the defense in camp, especially in the passing game.
“I think timing is good, with our ones,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is getting the ball out of your hand in the passing game when you really start talking about timing. I think Jeff has a good feel for that. Every now and then the defense does a good job covering us and we might hold it a little bit too long, but I think our receivers and quarterbacks are doing a good job getting on the same page.”
Roper started installing his no-huddle, spread offense in the spring and is now building on the basics in camp, installing more of the offense as the season draws closer.
He said he has to make sure he doesn't give the players too much, too soon.
"The one group, we just need to stay focused, keep battling. There's going to be little things along the way that we'll keep adding on that they have to learn,” he said. “I hear coaches all the time say don't make the same mistake twice. I am a believer of you're coaching the same things every day, whether it's steps, hands, eyes, whatever it is. So we've got to keep coaching those same things all the time with those guys, and the better we keep getting at that then the better we'll be. But I think it's a group that's doing a pretty good job.
“I just left a place (Duke) that I was there six years. So they had a great understanding of who we were offensively. So it was easy to walk in a room and say, 'Hey, let's do this,' or 'Let's do this.' And these guys aren't there yet.
“The biggest thing to guard against is putting too much on their plate. We played a bowl game in 1999 and Coach Cut (David Cutcliffe) just got the job. We walked in, we're playing Texas Tech, we've got a brand new team, we put in about 10 plays and went out and scored 35 points. So it's trying to guard against putting too much in."
Roper said the players have been receptive to the offense.
“It's been really good,” he said. “I think these guys are excited about playing football. It wouldn't matter who you rolled in here. When this time of season comes around, everybody's excited. I hope they're enjoying the offense. I hope they're enjoying competing every day on the practice field. I think they're excited about competing.
“I want guys to have hope and belief in themselves and enjoy coming out here playing. If I've got a guy playing really, really hard, I'm going to coach and fix the issues, whether it's a route depth or whatever it is. We're going to fix the issues. If we've got a guy not playing hard, you can't coach him. These guys play hard. We're going to coach positive.”
Roper said he's got talent to work with — an experienced quarterback, a solid starting line and plenty of potential playmakers at tailback and receiver.
He said he's got at least three tailbacks and six wide receivers he can already count on.
“They are guys that give us a chance to win when they're in the game with that amount of numbers,” Roper said.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.