In 42 years of being around football- as a coach’s son, player and coach- Offensive Coordinator Kurt Roper never saw anything like Saturday night’s suspended game against Idaho. The closest thing he experienced was an hour and a half-delay in his 2008 Duke debut, which led the coach to wonder if his first games are all going to be affected by Mother Nature.
This Saturday will hopefully bring the Gators a challenge on the field, as Eastern Michigan comes into town for a 4 pm contest. Coming off successful practice Monday, Roper met with the media Tuesday for his weekly press conference.
During last Saturday’s delay, Roper said the coaches were locked and ready for the game to start. There were some discussions about running the ball due to the field conditions, however it was uncertain if an increased amount was going to be given to the halfbacks.
The person most upset about the delay? Roper’s six-year-old daughter.
So my mother-in-law started to take her and my son home, and my daughter said, ‘I got all dressed,’ she had her fingernails painted, toenails painted orange and blue, ‘I got all dressed up for this. I’m just so disappointed,’” he said.
Preparing for EMU
Eastern Michigan, coming off a 31-28 win over Morgan State last weekend, will present Florida with an aggressive defense that plays with a three-down front and man-to-man coverage. Roper talked about the importance of having game film from this season on the Eagles.
That’s a big help,” he said. “To be able to see who’s playing where and who their backups are, where it all starts. You know, from there that’s probably one of the advantages we have over them is they hadn’t had a chance to see us this year.”
Saturday’s game will be a chance for the offensive linemen to showcase their vertical technique in the running game, as well as eliminate sacks, giving up 27 last year. The line has better communication with one another, after coming off a 2013 campaign that was anything but harmonious. Roper shared a story from former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer when Roper was a graduate assistant there.
[Fulmer] said, ‘You really want those offensive linemen knowing their role and knowing where they fit. When they walk into a restroom and there’s five urinals, the center goes to the middle one, the right guard goes to the second one.’ That’s the mindset.”
The Wide Receivers
Wide receiver Quinton Dunbar has school-record 28-game streak of catching at least one pass. Roper said it’s a cool thing when players can look at a streak they’ve amassed, and hopes to keep it going for the redshirt senior.
Well, you know, again, I think it’s something that you think about and I hope we get him catches way before it’s late in the game and we don’t have to worry about it,” he said.
The Gators will also get back sophomore wideout Demarcus Robinson, who is returning to the team after resolving a university sanction. Robinson has looked well in practice, giving a lot of effort, something Roper was appreciative of.
You know, Demarcus has been great since I’ve been here and he’s a guy that’s really working hard to improve himself, if that makes sense,” he said. “And that’s not always easy to go through some challenges he’s been through.”