The SEC had a drastically different look last season. With a bevy of talented passers and a few new head coaches, the league started to move to a much higher tempo of play. Sure, you still had slobber knockers like LSU Tigers-Florida Gators but there were also 101 points scored when Auburn and Missouri played and 91 between Texas A&M and Alabama.
Florida may be a year behind the trend but they have installed their own fast paced offense and it’s something that the offensive players are enjoying. The offensive players are adjusting to a new playbook but the terminology and schemes are much easier with Kurt Roper than they have been with the previous two coordinators.
“Really man just trust your eyes and play football,” Kelvin Taylor said when asked what Roper is asking of the players. “Just play your game, play fast and that’s pretty much it, that’s all he tells us.”
The key to Roper’s offense is going fast and getting the ball into playmakers hands with space around them to be able to make plays. The offense will feature the skill position players heavily. Demarcus Robinson continues to stand out to his teammates — who refer to him as a freak athlete.
“He’s super fast. He just makes all types of spectacular catches,” Taylor said of Robinson, his roommate. “The guy, he reminds me a lot of is [Michael] Crabtree, he’s real good. Anytime the ball’s in the air he’s coming down with it.”
Florida is loaded with talent at these skill positions. It hasn’t shown on the field the past two seasons but newcomer Jake McGee can see it around him in practice and in the locker room. “There’s a lot of good players in the locker room,” McGee said. “I’m excited for the work to continue with pads coming on tonight and guys getting as good as they can.”
The SEC is, however, a line of scrimmage league. Will Muschamp has recruited linemen to run a physical, pro-style offense. The bigger linemen are not used to running at the high frequency that Kurt Roper will call plays this season and the strength and conditioning team has had to overhaul their program to get the big hogs up front ready.
“We’ll all be able to handle it,” 6-6, 355-pound offensive lineman Trenton Brown said. “We’re all in better shape than we were last year. I feel good right now. Everybody feels good right now.”
It’s early in camp so the enthusiasm is high. On Monday, Muschamp said he liked the enthusiasm level his team brought to the first practice but that he wanted to see where they were in practice 12 and if they can keep that same level throughout camp.
The confidence is high, especially for a team coming off of the year that Florida had last season but it needs to be. The Gators are playing with a chip on their shoulder, energized by a newfound confidence and a scheme that fits the talent on the roster.
“I’m excited for our whole team and just everybody that’s going to be a part of Gator Nation because we’re going to have a good year,” Taylor said. “It starts, like today, today in practice we were working hard today, taking one play at a time and it’s gonna pay off.”
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