For the first time since Will Muschamp’s arrival at Florida, there isn’t a new system to learn on offense.
With Brent Pease returning to the helm as offensive coordinator, Florida’s offensive players can go through the spring focusing on their own development — rather than spending every waking moment studying a new playbook.
“Good to see offensively from the standpoint of guys teaching fundamentals and technique as opposed to scheme,” Muschamp said after Florida’s first spring practice. “That makes us even better than obviously a year ago at this time, which we need to be, but that’s refreshing.”
Even though there isn’t a new system to learn, Florida will still see changes this year as new bodies come in to replace departing players. When Pease spoke with the media on Tuesday, he made it known that the Gators will be creative as they adjust to new personnel.
However, Pease also stated that with a number of faces returning for a second year under his watch, they will limit the amount of changes in order to help the offense shore up inconsistencies from last season.
“Every year we’ve always kind of gone somewhere and tried to stay up with the new trends or get better,” Pease said. “Are we going to tinker with some stuff? Yeah, you have to because you have to match who’s in there now.
“But I think for us to be more consistent, better with what we’re doing and now kids to be around for their second year, I didn’t want to throw too much change in there for them, as well as the other coaches …We want to try to get really better at what we’re doing and maybe eliminate some things we weren’t real good at and get more consistent and better.”
With a consensus top-5 recruiting class signed in February, there’s little doubt the Gators will have a number of young, impact players on the field sooner than later. The Gators’ struggles on offense last season are well documented, but Florida addressed its needs by signing five receivers and two running backs.
While the majority of the 2013 class will arrive in the summer, Florida has the luxury of having perhaps its two biggest offensive recruits on campus, and participating in practice.
“(Receiver) Demarcus Robinson made some nice plays today,” Muschamp said. “I thought he did some good things. (Running back) Kelvin Taylor got in there did some nice things.”
Learning a college offense can be the equivalent of learning advanced calculus to some freshman. In order to avoid too much confusion, Pease said the coaches will try to keep things simple for their freshmen early on.
“We’ll keep it as simple as we can for them, really nice to have where we can be right there with them on the practice field,” Pease said. “But they’ll understand what it’s all about, kind of how we work, how we practice, fitting in to the offense. And they’ll be a lot farther ahead because you can see that as you look back on someone like DJ Humphries, I mean, thank goodness he was in here last year as much as he ended up playing and helping us.
“If he hadn’t have been here in the spring time like he was, wow, he wouldn’t have been where he was at or where he’s going to be right now. So I see those guys being able to help us that way being here this early.”
The receiver position was undoubtedly the biggest hole on the Florida offense last season. As Matt Hayes of The Sporting News reported in an article on Tuesday, the unit caught only 34 percent of quarterback Jeff Driskel’s passes last season.
In order to help the offense, cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy will be working with the offense for the first seven days of practice in order to expand his package. Muschamp said Purifoy made some plays on Wednesday, but his development will be a process.
“Yesterday, I had a long talk with [Purifoy] and he got a little frustrated,” Muschamp said. “I said ‘listen, remember your first day at corner?’ I mean, it just doesn’t happen over night. That’s why we’re doing this. So you can learn the concepts of the offense and you can step in.
“It’s very difficult for a guy that’s had tremendous success at a position and is trying to learn the other position. But guys, that’s what spring ball is for. It’s for developing players and developing your football team and doing what’s best for your team.
“It’s not about winning the drill on March 13th. It’s about preparing your team for the season and that’s why we’re doing this. And again, this is something that’s going to help our football team in my opinion.”