Gators go to the gun to revamp offense

After a few opening remarks and pleasantries last Tuesday afternoon, Will Muschamp got down to business. He is, after all, a coach who just led an injury plagued team to a 4-8 record. While fans want to — or have already forced themselves to — forget about the 2013 season, Muschamp doesn’t want his team to forget what last season felt like.

“I don’t know that you can put the season behind you at all, you need to have a good memory for that and not let it happen again,” he said. “We’ve talked about those sort of things but our guys are hungry, our guys are working hard. At the end of the day you shut up and have a good memory. That’s kind of been our motto around here.”

The defense hasn’t been the issue at Florida since Muschamp arrived. Yes, at times they were inconsistent last season — a fact Muschamp made clear in his pre-spring press conference. Despite the inconsistency, the defense will be fine. They’re young, sure, but talented. Muschamp mentioned a green secondary but one that he believes is ready and could possibly be the most talented group he has had in Gainesville.

The offense, on the other hand, is getting a complete facelift. Out with the tired, slow pro-style attack and in with a new, up-tempo attack that brings hope and promise. Muschamp called what Florida is doing offensively a “drastic change schematically.”

Florida will work more out of the shotgun, rather than under center. It’s a change that Muschamp doesn’t believe will take much adjusting to. Jeff Driskel played exclusively out of the shotgun in high school and the redshirt junior quarterback is comfortable in the formation. Florida’s offense, while widely unsuccessful for the better part of three seasons, has actually seen some success when operating out of the gun.

Muschamp noted that from 2012 to the early portion of 2013, Florida averaged 5.8 yards-per-carry in what he called “total run situations.” Out of the shotgun — a full yard more.

The passing attack saw even more of a production spike.

“Then you look at the passing game,” Muschamp explained. “From the gun, over 60 percent completion percentage, under 50 percent from under center. So, more explosive plays in the run game and in the passing game from the gun. More production, more yards per attempt to incompletion in all situations. Obviously, we’re more comfortable in the gun situations.”

Developing Driskel is paramount for Florida’s success. That’s why Muschamp believes bringing in Roper was the right move for Florida and for the plan that he has for the team.

“So that’s why you hire Kurt Roper to come in here, his development at the quarterback position, attention to detail, and very positive with the kids,” Muschamp said. “Very good positive response from our players. They’re excited about where we are right now.”

Roper will have 15 practices to install his offense this spring and he’ll have his starting quarterback at the helm for all of those practices. Spring was pushed back roughly 10 days to ensure that Driskel would be healthy. The oft-injured quarterback will benefit from a new offensive coordinator that has proven an ability to get the most out of his signal callers.

Florida will need Driskel to take the next step in his progression as a quarterback and Muschamp believes that Roper is the man for the job.

The Roper era will begin in less than a week when, for the first time, the new play-caller will be able to see exactly what he has at quarterback when the Gators kick off spring practice. Florida’s offensive woes will be on display and Roper has his hands full turning one of the worst offenses in the SEC into one that can move the ball and get into the endzone.

However, the pièce de résistance would be getting Driskel to take the next step, become the 5-star rated quarterback he was at Hagerty High School in Oviedo and lead the Gators back to Atlanta.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC