Losing Jeff Driskel in just the third game last season crippled the Florida Gators offense beyond repair. Sure, the Tyler Murphy Band-Aid was able to get Florid past Arkansas and Kentucky but the big boys of the SEC exposed the offense and Florida didn’t win a game after October 5.
“Well, I don’t think it was really fair to judge us last year offensively with some obvious things that happened to us,” Will Muschamp said during Florida’s media day. “You go back and look at the numbers and sometimes statistics can lie to you or they can tell you the truth.”
Well, even in 2012 the Gators finished with the No. 12 overall offense in the SEC. The passing offense was dead last in the league and the scoring offense barely cracked the top-10 with 26.5 points-per-game. But winning fixed all of that as Florida ripped off 11 wins in the regular season.
Still, even as the Gators stockpiled wins on their way to a Sugar Bowl berth, fans grew restless of a stagnant offense that often relied on the defense to dig them out of holes.
4-8 wasn’t fun. It made the Gators the butt of jokes throughout the offseason but it served a purpose according to Darious Cummings. It happened for a reason and the result of the worst season in more than three decades appears to be a new offense, better suited for the talent that Florida boasts on their roster.
“4-8 happened for a reason. It’s making us come back stronger and that’s all it’s about. Just winning,” Cummings said. “We try not to bring up last year too much but whenever we do, I know I get a feeling in my stomach, I know my guys get a feeling in their stomach. We just want to go out and show everybody that that wasn’t the Florida team. That wasn’t Florida. We’re hungry and eager to get back on the field.”
Kurt Roper’s new shotgun offense was brought in to inject life into the Florida offense that fell woefully short a season ago. It was a calculated move by Will Muschamp and a hire that has drawn praise from other coaches and national columnists around the country.
“I think schematically we’ll be drastically different because we’re going to be in the shotgun all the time. The tempo will be much different. We’re going to be on the ball,” Muschamp said. “We’ve got different mechanisms to go fast, to look back, to change the play based on the defensive look. So there’s a lot of different things built in that we will be much different to the fans sitting in the stands.”
A “drastically different” look schematically will be well-received from fans who grew accustomed to Steve Spurrier’s fun-n’-gun and Urban Meyer’s high-octane spread offense but were lulled to sleep the past few seasons when the Florida offense took the field.
To better take advantage of Jeff Driskel and the speed that Florida has, Roper will move the Gators back to a spread offense, run out of the shotgun. It’s an offense that Jeff Driskel is familiar with and that familiarity has already shown promise in the past.
“I feel Jeff is more comfortable being in the shotgun. That is the button line,” said Muschamp. “To fit our roster, it was the best move for us in my opinion. In looking for that type of coach that I felt like to be good moving forward, Kurt Roper was the best guy for the job for us moving forward.”
Practice began today. The offensive players have already worked with the new offense 15 times in the spring and they have 26 more days to get things running like a well-oiled machine.
The spread offense looks like it could be Muschamp’s saving grace and a move that will elevate the Gators back to serious contenders in the SEC.
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