Through the last calendar school year, UF’s returning starters on offense have been happy to support the athletic department’s rousing successes in sports such as women’s tennis and indoor and outdoor track.
Both teams brought a national championship back to Gainesville. The women’s gymnastics team finished a mere few hundredths of a point from finishing at the top of the heap themselves. Even star one-and-done Bradley Beal and the fellas on the hard court enjoyed a solid run in last year’s March Madness.
All that being said, as thrilled as the offensive players were for their fellow Gators student-athletes, they have been (Gator) chompin’ at the bit all summer to get in on the action themselves.
Nine days into practice, head coach Will Muschamp believes his offensive playmakers have already started making up for time spent, well, struggling, a season ago.
Understandably, the offense is sick and tired of watching the punt team get most of the playing time come Saturdays in the SEC.
While any offense would be nice, the key for Muschamp is seeing his Gators pick up yards in bunches.
More big plays, if you will.
Generations of Gators fans have grown accustomed to such gameplay with quarterbacks Danny Weurffel, Chris Leak and Tim Tebow runnin’ the show.
The current coaching regime, unfortunately, does not have the luxury of a proven quarterback leading the way.
Still, that doesn’t exactly mean the Gators are going to line up Mary Poppins under center, either.
When asked what he thought entailed an explosive play, Muschamp responded, “We look at it different ways. A 12-yard run offensively or 15-yard pass…Chunks of yardage, changing field position, creating some explosive plays was something obviously was sorely missed a year ago.”
His first year certainly didn’t have many of those type plays, and it takes a big man to admit his team’s deficiencies.
Year Dos of El Era de Muschamp will be upon us soon enough.
Although he will still be juggling a roster that has some player he did recruit and others he didn’t, as well as get those guys to adjust to a style of offense they may not have expected to run, a few players have begun to make stand out plays.
Obviously, all eyes have been on the quarterback battle between Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel. The play of senior running back Mike Gillislee has been heavily scrutinized as well.
The SEC is tough and deep, however, and it is going to take the entire team in order to make a concerted run at the championship game.
Luckily for both his coaching staff putting together the roster and the fans who will be packing Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in just a few short weeks’ time, some unexpected cream has begun to rise to the top.
And it’s been a balanced bit of cream.
“Balanced in run game and pass game,” Muschamped said. “I’ll tell you, Raphael Andrades had a good day [during the team’s scrimmage], from a receiver’s standpoint. He caught a bubble screen and made a couple guys miss. He caught a ball downfield for jump ball, a 50/50 ball.”
The production of Andrades might surprise some fans. Not Muschamp.
“I know he’s only a two-star and he’s not supposed to be a good player,” he joked. “We had the guy in camp. The guy’s got great ball skills, judges the ball well, catches the ball well. He’s a guy we need to give more reps to. And we had some other guys do good things too.”
As mentioned, it is going to take an entire team to compete for the top spot in the SEC. All of Gator Nation is looking forward to seeing who steps his game up.
So is Muschamp.