UF loaded at running back, Roper says


Florida running back Mack Brown performs a drill at practice earlier this month.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 2:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 2:12 p.m.

With five players pushing for playing time at tailback, it’s become a crowded backfield on the practice field, and many are wondering if there will be enough carries to go around this season.

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Florida running back Mack Brown performs a drill at practice earlier this month.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun

Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper said he doesn’t mind having that kind of problem at such a critical position.

“I don't think you can ever have enough numbers there,” Roper said. “I really don't. I think that's a physical position that is hard to stay healthy. I'm glad we've got a bunch of guys.

“I believe if a guy earns the right to play, you've got to find a way to play him some. It doesn't mean maybe he plays the whole game, but we need to be prepared to use all our weapons. And really all we want to do is score points. Who is capable of scoring? I think those guys getting the football are good with it in space."

Those guys are Kelvin Taylor, Mack Brown, Matt Jones, Adam Lane and true freshman Brandon Powell. They’re competing hard for playing time — and carries.

Roper said he likes what he has to work with at the position.

“We do have a good group,” he said. “I think we've got guys that are experienced, that are playmakers, that understand protection, that can make plays in the passing game.”

O-line has been solid

Roper said he also feels good about the guys blocking for all those tailbacks — the offensive line.

“I think we’re pretty good there,” he said. “We've got to go play a game. You like to take it one game at a time and not get too far ahead of yourself, but I think we've got a good group. I really do."

Moore's scooter sidelined

You won’t see offensive guard Tyler Moore puttering around campus on his scooter anymore. He said he doesn’t ride it after getting in an accident the week of the Georgia game and missing the rest of the season with a broken elbow.

“No, I don’t,” he said.

Moore was asked if the coaches have preached about scooter awareness in the wake of several mishaps involving players. Defensive tackle Joey Ivie and safety Keanu Neal also were in scooter accidents over the past year.

“It’s hard not to ride them because the parking here is not the greatest,” Moore said. “You’ve got to be able to get to campus, especially when you have to get up every day and be here at 6 a.m. If anyone talks to me it’s like, be careful because it can go so quick. Keanu got it this summer, Joey last fall, and then my thing.”

More heat wanted

Everyone seems to think that junior Buck linebacker/defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. is going to have a huge season with a lot of sacks. But for that to happen, the Gators may need to find some more pass rushers to take some of those double teams away from Fowler.

“It’s really important,” sophomore defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. said. “As you know, everybody is going to slide the protection toward No. 6. We have to have guys who can win one-on-one battles. When you slide the line, there are going to be one-on-one battles on the other end. We have to have guys come along and contribute.

“We’ve got some guys coming along. I’ve been doing pretty well, I feel. Alex (Anzalone), J.P. (Jeremi Powell), Neiron Ball. We’ve definitely got some good talent we can incorporate into the games when it comes to pass-rush situations.”

Cox said he’s planning to bring the heat.

“I do feel as if it can be a breakout year for me,” he said. “ I just have to stick to my craft and stay dedicated to what I’m doing and not let my head get big if I start doing (good things). Just stay me.”

WRs responding to Leak

Roper said Chris Leak, the former Gator quarterback, is getting the job done coaching the wide receivers in his first season as an assistant coach.

"I think he's done a really good job,” Roper said. “I think the guys are working hard for him. I think they're getting better fundamentally on some of the things that he's working on with releases and things like that.

“So, you see development in the group, and I think you see a group that goes to the field and works hard for their coach. And that's what you're looking for. But I think he's done a good job."

Roper said Leak’s quarterback background is a plus.

“Well, I think he can teach big picture,” he said. “I think that's the biggest thing is why everybody is doing what they're doing.

“Everybody plays a role within a play and sometimes your route is a route that is supposed to maybe try to help somebody else get open. So, if you don't do a great job of running your route then it doesn't work. I think he can get that information across really well to the guys, how it all ties together."

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