Florida’s overhaul of the strength and conditioning program has been well-documented, and the mission statement — become faster, more physical and more aggressive — is well known.
Yet just how that translates to UF’s play in 2019 remains to be seen; although there has been no shortage of speculation inside the program.
When the Gators open the season in 10 days in Orlando against Miami, Florida’s pass catchers expect the offense will operate noticeably quicker than it did merely a season ago.
“We’re going to blow it up this year. The offense is way different than last year, way different. Everybody is just being used around, spread apart. It’s going to be way different. Faster, everything,” redshirt freshman tight end Dante Lang said.
That admission may come as a breath of fresh air for Florida fans who are disgruntled with having one of the SEC’s slower offenses.
The Gators ranked No. 91 among NCAA Division I teams in plays per game last season, good for eighth in the conference. Throughout preseason camp, Florida’s offense has been installing multiple no-huddle packages designed to catch the opposition off-guard.
“We don’t operate any differently, it’s just different pace,” quarterback Kyle Trask said. “We have packages where we’re supposed to go extra fast, eyes to the sideline as soon as you can. Whatever the call is, run it, try to catch the defense off balance.”
Much of Florida’s stagnation on offense could be attributed to Dan Mullen’s offensive reboot after arriving back in Gainesville. Each and every student-athlete, even transfers familiar with the rigors of the SEC, had to essentially start fresh.
“I think coming in, first year we didn’t have an idea of the offense. But now, second year under Coach Mullen, I think everybody has a good idea of it, so just coming out, it’s just about executing now and getting the plays down and getting it fast, the tempo,” Van Jefferson, who transferred to the program from Ole Miss prior to the commencement of the 2018 season, said. “Now that everybody has had a year of the offense, I think we’re going to be fine.”
It seemingly didn’t even take a year, however. By November, signs the team had grown more knowledgeable were apparent.
Over Florida’s final three games, the Gators averaged 77 plays on offense — up from UF’s season average of 69.1 plays per game. The results weren’t surprising: UF’s offense averaged 36.7 points per game in the final three contests, compared to 27.5 points a game in the team’s first nine regular season games.
Suffice to say, with the inaugural season in the books, Florida sees the benefit in increasing the tempo on the offensive end in Mullen’s second year. Now the task becomes implementing it Aug. 24.
“We’re trying to score faster. Score faster and get on the field and get off, convert more third downs,” senior wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland said. “Just have a complete offense and play together fast.”
Who: Florida vs. Miami
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 24
Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850