Roper will take advantage of running back depth

He’s been the talk of the Gator Nation since news broke on Christmas Eve that he would be the new offensive coordinator of the Florida Gator football team. Kurt Roper arrived in Gainesville after a successful season at Duke and immediately got to work. He spent the first 15 practices in the spring analyzing the talent he would have at his disposal and this fall he’s been getting those players ready for a season that is just 18 days away. Even with Jeff Driskel returning for his fourth season in Gainesville with talented receivers surrounding him, the deepest position on offense is at running back, where Roper may have the most talented group of backs that he’s ever had — and that’s saying something. “In 2006 I went back to Tennessee and in that backfield was a guy named Arian Foster, Montario Hardesty and LaMarcus Coker; all of them really talented football players,” Roper said. A young coach at the time, Roper made the comment to his head coach, David Cutcliffe, that he had too much talent. “All of them wanted to play, well, everybody can’t play; they’re sitting on the sidelines. So I’m in a room, managing players who aren’t getting as many reps as they’re wanting to get. I made the comment, ‘I have too many good players’ and Coach Cut goes, ‘oh no.’ the next thing I know, all I got is Arian Foster because Hardesty got injured and Coker was not able to play, now you’re like, wait a second.” Running back is a physical position in any league and especially in the SEC — Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane missed practice on Tuesday with minor injuries. Roper’s happy to have the stable of backs that he has and he knows that he’ll have to use most of them this season to be successful. During his time at Duke, Roper never had a running back carry the ball more than 120 times in a season. Florida, on the other hand, has had a back carry the ball at least 148 times every year Muschamp has been in Gainesville. With Matt Jones, Kelvin Taylor and Brandon Powell starting to stand out in practice and distance themselves from the rest of the pack, Roper plans on using a rotation at running back this season. “The more the better is what it really gets down to,” he said. “But typically you go into a game, with running backs you’re going to kind of lean on two and three’s going to show up in there some and you never know how the injuries are going to go and what not.” Roper shied away from making the statement that Jones, Taylor and Powell were the clear-cut cream of the crop at the position. He noted that Mack Brown has the most experience and that Mark Herndon was talented enough to go from being a walk on to a scholarship player but there is no denying the skill level of the first three backs. “Mack Brown is an experienced football player. And Mark Herndon is a football player,” said Roper. “That’s a guy, when he’s in the game; I’ve got a lot of confidence that he’s going to know what to do. He’s a talented player. He’s one of those guys that you watch that you go, ‘you know obviously he was a walk-on that earned a scholarship.’ This guy could start at a lot of places. He’s that good. But obviously Matt Jones and KT and Brandon Powell are physically gifted.” After the injury bug treated the Florida Gators like an all you can eat buffet in 2013, Roper is just happy to have numbers in the backfield that the team can lean on in crunch time. For all the latest Florida Gators football news join Gator Country today!

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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


  1. I’m not concerned about the depth, it seems pretty good. I just want someone to emerge as an elite back in the SEC, it doesn’t matter who. Someone to perform like Gurley did against Florida to close out the game. You knew he was getting the ball, but you still couldn’t stop him. That’s what I want to see. If the other guys become mostly spectators because a dominant back emerges, that’s fine with me.