The task didn’t seem easy. Take an offense that had been built to run a smashmouth style of football for the past three recruiting cycles and install a new up-tempo offense in just 15 practices. In his introductory press conference, Kurt Roper expressed confidence that 15 practices would be more than enough to install his offense and it turns out that confidence was well placed.
“Everything that we have in right now, we have enough to go play any game that we play next year,” Roper said before the Orange and Blue Debut.
The offense looked good, fast and fluid, especially in the first half yesterday. The team and most importantly Jeff Driskel, have acclimated to the change and are having fun again — something that was hard to do in 2013.
With the aforementioned 15 spring practices in the books, let’s take a look at how each position fared.
Depth: Jeff Driskel, Skyler Mornhinweg OR Will Grier
The new offense fits Jeff Driskel’s strengths as a quarterback like a glove. Roper’s past shows an ability to tailor his offense to the strengths of his quarterbacks and he has done that this spring at Florida.
Roper’s offense is simple to learn and execute but allows for multiple looks and formations to keep defenses guessing. While it’s simple to learn and play, the offense still calls for precision and timing in the passing game — something Driskel admittedly is still struggling with.
“The summer is for timing on the offensive side,” he said. “We’re going to have to throw a lot and get our timing down. You can’t go back into fall camp without being in rhythm. So we’re going to have to do that, but we’re used to that. We’ve done that the past few summers. It’s nothing new to us, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Driskel is the unquestioned starter at quarterback and leader of the offense on a whole. Skyler Mornhinweg and Will Grier split backup reps but in case of emergency it would appear that Grier is more ready to take over in a pinch.
Overall the quarterbacks have acclimated well to the new offense and are showing promise moving forward in it.
Depth: Kelvin Taylor, Mack Brown, Adam Lane
Florida is very deep at this position and will continue to get deeper when Matt Jones and Mark Herndon return. The backfield is crowded, which will create a sense of urgency and heightened competition level this offseason.
Competition is never a bad thing to have and the coaching staff will embrace it. The offense fits the running backs well, asking them to make quick decisions, one-cut and go. It’s simple and Florida’s deep stable of running backs is taking advantage of it.
The Gators may have changed offensive philosophies but they won’t stray away from the run entirely.
Depth: (X) Quinton Dunbar, Demarcus Robinson, Chris Thompson
(Z): Ahmad Fulwood, Raphael Andrades
(Y/slot): Latroy Pittman, Valdez Showers, Alvin Bailey
The wide receivers are the most improved group on offense. Joker Phillips has done an absolutely phenomenal job getting his position group ready to play this season. The receivers are running precise, crisp routes and making life easy for the quarterbacks.
This is hands down the best coached, most talented and deepest group of receivers that Florida has had under Will Muschamp and the group will get even better when Andre Debose returns to full speed in the fall.
Tight Ends / B Position
Tight Depth: Tevin Westbrook, Clay Burton, DeAndre Goolsby
B Position: Hunter Joyer Gideon Ajagbe
Tevin Westbrook really came on this spring and is rounding out his game to become a balanced tight end rather than just a blocking option. Goolsby took some time to catch on but he’s adjusting to the college game nicely and is a player that can give the Gators an added dimension to the offense as a vertical seam threat.
Florida doesn’t have a true player to fill their “B” position. It’s an H-back variation that requires a player to play in the backfield, at receiver and also to block. The Gators have been working both of their fullbacks into the role and despite not being perfectly suited for the role have adapted nicely.
Joyer has proved to be a much better pass catcher and route runner than expected and Ajagbe made some very impressive catches throughout the spring.
The players at these positions are making strides but neither are currently roles of strength for the Gators.
Depth: LT – D.J. Humphries, Kavaris Harkless, LG – Tyler Moore, Trip Thurman, C – Max Garcia Cam Dillard, RG – Trenton Brown Drew Sarvary, RT – Chaz Green, Trenton Brown
Florida’s offensive line is razor thin. Tyler Moore was limited this spring but should be praised for his toughness, battling through an elbow injury that forced him to play with a brace that severely limited his range of motion.
Chaz Green and D.J. Humphries have locked down the starting jobs at tackle and both appear to be ready to anchor down the offensive line this season.
Max Garcia moved to center after playing left guard and left tackle last season. He’s had some snapping issues and while he still needs to work on it, is adjusting well to the new position.
Trenton Brown was the most impressive offensive lineman after moving inside to guard. The massive lineman looks right at home playing right guard and even displayed mobility in the spring game, pulling and moving well when asked to.
The offensive line has been maligned the past few years but — if they can stay healthy — look like it could be a strong unit in 2014.