Talent now on roster to be successful, UF co-offensive coordinators say

Florida offensive line coach and co-coordinator John Hevesy speaks to the media at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

Although they are in only the early initial stages of player evaluations, co-coordinators John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales share the belief that there is enough talent already on the Florida roster to successfully execute Dan Mullen’s offense in year one.

“I believe we have the pieces,” Hevesy said.

Now it’s all about putting those pieces together and making them mesh.

The pieces Hevesy is responsible for are the offensive linemen and the running game. For Gonzales, it’s the wide receivers and passing game.

But where it all starts is with Brian Johnson and the quarterbacks.

The coaches will identify their quarterback, and then build the offense around his skill set.

“That’s no different than the last nine years,” Hevesy said. “We’ve been through different quarterbacks. Some can run, some couldn’t run. Some didn’t like to run. Some couldn’t throw.

“We are going to adapt and change for our success. We are hard-headed in a lot of ways, but not hard-headed to let’s stick that square peg in a round hole and keep doing it. Because this is what we’ve done for years. We always have to evolve in this game.”

The real evaluation of the quarterbacks will begin in the spring, where four candidates, including last season’s starter (Feleipe Franks) and a true freshman (Emory Jones) will be competing for the starting role.

In the meantime, Hevesy and Gonzales are getting to know the players they’ll be working with.

Hevesy has an experienced group of linemen, led by senior tackle Martez Ivey.

The knock on the line last season was that it wasn’t strong enough or tough enough. The Gators are trying to reverse that right now in Nick Savage’s demanding offseason strength and conditioning program.

“I’m not saying anything they’ve done before is good or bad. It doesn’t matter,” Hevesy said. “What we’re going to do is I’m going to teach you. Be willing to take that and I’m going to listen to what you have to say and we’re going to go from here. I think they’ve done a great job of that so far. They want to learn, they want to listen.

“I think they’re great kids so far, what we’ve seen in the weight room, in the offseason stuff, in the meetings we’ve had. They’re willing to learn. They want to learn. We just keep going every day and just keep pounding them with information and stuff to just teach them to be better.”

The wide receivers have also made a favorable early impression on Gonzales.

The UF receivers have struggled with consistency and production in the recent past, but that may be about to change. Gonzales has a history of developing receivers, including here at Florida under Urban Meyer.

He has some talent to work with, including highly regarded transfers Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes. The talent pool grows deeper this summer with the addition of true freshmen Jacob Copeland and Justin Watkins.

Gonzales is already getting a chance to evaluate the receivers who are on campus.

“Having seen them go through agilities, they have great burst, they’re quick. I think they’re very eager,” Gonzales said. “They’re very hungry to be great. I’m excited about having the opportunity to get this group. We need to be able to do what they do best.

“I’m fired up. I get juiced up when you start talking about individual stuff. I’m excited about my guys, I really am. I’m excited to get a chance to work with them.”

Gonzales will learn a lot more about the receivers when the pads come on this spring.

“Everybody looks good through drills, especially at the receiver position,” he said. “Until you put the pads on, are they going to be able to finish the catch on contact? Are they going to be able to separate when they’ve got a DB grabbing their jersey? Those are the things that we’ll teach technique-wise to try and separate ourselves.”


      • I understand the cynicism, given recent history, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there is some real talent on the team, including at the receiver position. Cleveland has shown flashes, as has Toney. Hammond and Swain were 4* recruits, as I recall, and may show more than they have so far with some good coaching. If you include newcomers, such as Grimes, Jefferson, and Clement, it starts to look like a very impressive group of receivers. I look forward to watching them play.

          • Also, I remember hearing that the Gators did not have good offensive talent during Muschamp’s tenure. He did a great job of recruiting players on defense, no so much on offense. Whatever his faults, Mac was bringing in some talented players on offense, but did not seem to be able to coach them very well.

          • The guys brought in, particularly receivers, were highly recruited guys that were not developed and had miserable rout trees. A lot of former players were beside themselves with the play calling and schemes. I believe we do have the talent…

  1. They have no chance and will FAIL unless they bring some jacked up over the hill quarterback from a team with a losing record! Only players with receding hairlines and withered bones who are masters of holding clipboards can lead a team to glory! (Nussmeir raving from the toilet as he keeps checking his voice mail hoping for a job offer from some clueless moron)

      • Great. He can teach their TEs to whiff on every block and run one yard hitch passes. Also. confirmed that it would be a clueless moron who called him. Jones is the world’s second worst judge of coaching talent right after Jeremy Foley.

    • This is funny..I heard Paul Finebaum say today “McElwain was a good OC, not a good head coach”. Yea, you think? The most disastrous HBC hire in modern UF history. Doug Dickey was not worse, he got us close to greatness, but could not get us over the hump. Charley Pell, for all of his faults, brought this university into relevance again. Will Muschamp, as offensively constrained as he was in the early days, brought us some of the most sick defenses this school has ever seen, and got us within a hair’s breath of playing for a national championship. Someone tell me Mac’s accomplishments with his own players and his own offense. Abysmal. I will not let that guy off the hook for the money he took from this university until this school is not laughed at again. I wish I could make $12 million for being so crappy at my job.

      • Immediately after the Michigan game, McElwain claimed that “we had a great game plan.” UF gained 197 yards in that game with his ‘great game plan.’ What Mc and Nuttsmeir never seemed to realize, along with others, is that the only good game plan is the one that actually works on game day. I am sure Mc has a shelf full of all the great game plans he came up with that didn’t work, just like that old crackpot down the street has a garage full of great inventions that never made any money.

    • Glad coach Gonzalez mentioned learning how to separate as being a key with the receivers because that was the biggest issue I noticed with all of the wide receivers last year. None could get off press coverage with any winnable consistency. You can be as physically talented as anyone, but you will not be a good receiver unless you can get that talent separated from the equally talented DB talent in front of you.

  2. Hey Folks – the past is the past – we cannot let it drag us down. We must look to the future, which in my view, is full of promise and hope. A good coach can take a mediocre team and make it better. A great coach can take that same team and make it competitive with the best teams. We start with the team we have – there is a lot of talent to work with. Note that an average player with a strong work ethic will improve and become a better player. I would rather have less talented players who have a strong desire to win, the right work ethic and the right attitude versus highly talented players with primadonna attitudes who are not willing to put in the extra effort and rely solely on their talents. GO GATORS!!!!

    • Very true. I am just bored waiting for spring football to start, so it seems like mocking the dumb and dumber of coaching is a good way to fill time. I agree completely on your assessment of the value of hard work and attitude. That’s one reason I feel so good about this staff. I saw MSU play many times over the years Mullen and his staff coached there, and they were always a disciplined, hard playing group of competitors with a team mindset. That doesn’t happen by accident, and I am confident they will bring the same mentality to UF football.

      The only place a me-first, low effort primadonna player really helps a team in the long run is when they are sat down on the bench and made an example of for the rest of the team.

  3. Well given that this coaching staff spent the past nine years coaching in the SEC, I have to believe that they are genuinely excited about our potential as they are in the position to be able to compare what they had at Miss. St. and what we have. Dan Mullen certainly knows how to develop quarterbacks, one of the weakest positions we have had since Tebow. Here is to the future and to the enthusiasm that this staff is bringing.

  4. Shame on all you that want to be negative, even before the first game.

    As fans we should not use our passion that way.

    I have no idea why you want to bring up the past in negative way.
    If the past was negative to you, then leave it there, and move on to something positive. LIKE THIS YEAR.