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Players excited
about Roper’s offense

Written by Nick de la Torre, March 27, 2014, 5 Comments,
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It didn’t take long for the offensive players to take to Kurt Roper’s offense. So far, the team has been through five practices and according to senior running back Mack Brown, have already installed close to 60 plays.

But the excitement didn’t start when the team took the field over a week ago to kick off spring practice; it started before their new offensive coordinator even arrived in Gainesville.

Roper spent the past six seasons at Duke as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, including a 10-4 campaign in 2013 that ended with a Chick-fil-A showdown with Texas A&M.

“It did [get me excited],” Brown said of getting of going over film from Duke last season. “The main thing is they won a lot of games last year and scored a lot of points. We score those points with the defense we have, we should win a lot of games.”

Roper is the third offensive coordinator that will call plays for Will Muschamp’s ball club. That means the offensive players have gone through three playbooks and some — like the redshirt senior Brown — have gone through four coordinators and playbooks. That’s why keeping things simple is important for Roper and for Florida.

“The process is you add things to them every day. That’s a challenge,” Roper said. “Sometimes we’re trying to fix mistakes from the day before but adding to their install on that day so it’s hard to focus on correcting those mistakes when we’re putting new things on them. I think they’re doing a good job. What we’ve tried to do is create an offense that is easy for us to learn as possible but still complicated for us to defend.”

The more simplistic scheme has rejuvenated the offensive players, making the game fun again. With less to think about before the snap, players are able to play faster. Obviously, with just five live practices of installation, the players are still working out the kinks but they see the promise that the new offense has and they’re excited about the potential.

“Last year, our formations were longer and included a lot of bits and pieces,” senior tight end Tevin Westbrook said. “This year, it’s one sign, signal you know where you at. A lot of fast, up-tempo plays. It’s a lot to take in, but once you get it down pat, it’s easy.”

The new offense also means new roles. Roper’s schemes calls for a tight end/ h-back position that he calls the “B position.” It’s a hybrid role that a player like Trey Burton would have excelled in, but without Burton on campus, the job is up for grabs with players like Hunter Joyer, Gideon Ajagbe and all of the tight ends vying for the starting role. Westbrook is a defensive transplant, starting his career on the defensive side of the ball before being moved to tight end. He led the tight ends last season in receptions (three) but looks to be working himself into a bigger role as a receiver.

“It’s really exciting. It’s more of a competition,” he said. “Every day when you go out you know that you’ve to play to be able to catch the ball and block, to move from off the ball to a bigger role. It’s exciting. We’re catching balls and blocking from the backfield. Blocking for the quarterback. It’s exciting.”

Tight end isn’t the only position getting a facelift. No longer will Hunter Joyer and the fullbacks be used as the battering ram for an offense that was content on chewing up clock and playing a field position game. Joyer and Ajagbe have been splitting out wide and are being featured as receivers more this spring than either player had in the past. Combined, the fullback duo has 10 career receptions.

“I feel pretty comfortable with it. I enjoy it,” Joyer said of being featured more. “Any time you get a chance to have the ball in your hands it’s a good thing, so I’m really enjoying it so far.”

After years of mediocrity on the offensive side of the ball, players, coaches and fans alike are ready to turn over a new leaf and bring some excitement back to the field. Based on the small sample size that we’ve seen over the past week or so, Florida will do that in 2014.

“I feel right now our confidence is sky-high,” Joyer said. “Coach is doing a great job building us up and keeping us positive. From the practices, it seems like we’re going to put a lot of points up, so it’s good.”

Nick de la Torre

About 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. gatorsdominateMarch 27, 2014, 7:39 pm

    Where is that snow print fellow? I’m sure he’ll have something negative to say about this. He’ll be crying like a little baby when Driskel beats his real team’s ass at Doak, again.

    This was a great read, this offense really is a game changer for us. Especially with all the elite talent we have on offense!

    • gatorsdominateMarch 27, 2014, 7:41 pm

      Yes. We have some elite talent on offense in Driskel, Drob, and KT. We’re absolutely loaded with it on defense though.

    • snowprintMarch 27, 2014, 9:08 pm

      You asked and you shall receive. I guess the players didn’t watch the Duke game against FSU, where they failed to score a single point against the starting defense. I’ll believe all the stuff the coaches are saying when they perform in a real game against a good team. We’ll have to wait until the fourth game of the season when UF travels to Alabama for that to happen. I’ll just remind you that we hear the same thing about how good offense is going to be every year from the coaches. It seems that guys like you actually believe it, I, on the other hand, look at the track record of them lying every year. Remember how Driskel was going to be so much better last year? Demarcus Robinson was “unstoppable? When the real season came along, Driskel still sucked and Robinson had alligator arms that were the cause of an interception. All this supposed “talent” on offense hasn’t done anything on the field yet, so I think you’re setting yourself up to be let down again. One day, you and all the other pumpers will have to face the fact that it’s the players that are the reason for the bad offense, not the coaching. All the complaints about not having a wide-open offense should have been answered in the Sugar Bowl. Pease had an imaginative, pass-heavy gameplan, but Driskel sucks as a passer. You can’t do magic with schemes if your quarterback sucks. Let’s see who’s wrong after the fourth game this year, I may be wrong but the past record of these players, especially Driskel, makes me feel pretty confident that I’m not the one who will be eating crow.

  2. scooterpMarch 27, 2014, 8:25 pm

    Nick, I think you are being way to kind in using the word “mediocrity” to describe our offense the last 4 years. I would have been ok being mediocre…we were a MESS. Great read and hope we have really put those days behind us.

    • YRBNDRMarch 27, 2014, 9:57 pm

      I hope I am so wrong but I agree with Snowprint. JD is a heck of an athlete but as a QB that has to make some kind of a read of a defense and execute an accurate throw thus far it is has not been shown to be in his DNA. It was so obvious before Tyler M was hurt he was head and shoulders a better as a QB… JD is a hell of a runner but his instincts with how to absorb contact and hit the ground with the least amount of damage is lacking. In his defense I am sure he has always been so much better than everyone else his need for those traits has been almost nonexistent…

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It didn’t take long for the offensive players to take to Kurt Roper’s offense. So far, the team has been through five practices and according to senior running back Mack Brown, have already installed close to 60 plays.

But the excitement didn’t start when the team took the field over a week ago to kick off spring practice; it started before their new offensive coordinator even arrived in Gainesville.

Roper spent the past six seasons at Duke as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, including a 10-4 campaign in 2013 that ended with a Chick-fil-A showdown with Texas A&M.

“It did [get me excited],” Brown said of getting of going over film from Duke last season. “The main thing is they won a lot of games last year and scored a lot of points. We score those points with the defense we have, we should win a lot of games.”

Roper is the third offensive coordinator that will call plays for Will Muschamp’s ball club. That means the offensive players have gone through three playbooks and some — like the redshirt senior Brown — have gone through four coordinators and playbooks. That’s why keeping things simple is important for Roper and for Florida.

“The process is you add things to them every day. That’s a challenge,” Roper said. “Sometimes we’re trying to fix mistakes from the day before but adding to their install on that day so it’s hard to focus on correcting those mistakes when we’re putting new things on them. I think they’re doing a good job. What we’ve tried to do is create an offense that is easy for us to learn as possible but still complicated for us to defend.”

The more simplistic scheme has rejuvenated the offensive players, making the game fun again. With less to think about before the snap, players are able to play faster. Obviously, with just five live practices of installation, the players are still working out the kinks but they see the promise that the new offense has and they’re excited about the potential.

“Last year, our formations were longer and included a lot of bits and pieces,” senior tight end Tevin Westbrook said. “This year, it’s one sign, signal you know where you at. A lot of fast, up-tempo plays. It’s a lot to take in, but once you get it down pat, it’s easy.”

The new offense also means new roles. Roper’s schemes calls for a tight end/ h-back position that he calls the “B position.” It’s a hybrid role that a player like Trey Burton would have excelled in, but without Burton on campus, the job is up for grabs with players like Hunter Joyer, Gideon Ajagbe and all of the tight ends vying for the starting role. Westbrook is a defensive transplant, starting his career on the defensive side of the ball before being moved to tight end. He led the tight ends last season in receptions (three) but looks to be working himself into a bigger role as a receiver.

“It’s really exciting. It’s more of a competition,” he said. “Every day when you go out you know that you’ve to play to be able to catch the ball and block, to move from off the ball to a bigger role. It’s exciting. We’re catching balls and blocking from the backfield. Blocking for the quarterback. It’s exciting.”

Tight end isn’t the only position getting a facelift. No longer will Hunter Joyer and the fullbacks be used as the battering ram for an offense that was content on chewing up clock and playing a field position game. Joyer and Ajagbe have been splitting out wide and are being featured as receivers more this spring than either player had in the past. Combined, the fullback duo has 10 career receptions.

“I feel pretty comfortable with it. I enjoy it,” Joyer said of being featured more. “Any time you get a chance to have the ball in your hands it’s a good thing, so I’m really enjoying it so far.”

After years of mediocrity on the offensive side of the ball, players, coaches and fans alike are ready to turn over a new leaf and bring some excitement back to the field. Based on the small sample size that we’ve seen over the past week or so, Florida will do that in 2014.

“I feel right now our confidence is sky-high,” Joyer said. “Coach is doing a great job building us up and keeping us positive. From the practices, it seems like we’re going to put a lot of points up, so it’s good.”

Read previous post:
Florida Gator QB Jeff Driskel scrambles in the backfield looking for an open receiver downfield. Gator Country photo by David Bowie.
Roper sees positives from the offense so far this spring

Kurt Roper talked to the media on Thursday about the offense so far this spring

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