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.”