Playmakers waiting in Gainesville for Roper

Some fans may not think that the hiring of Kurt Roper was the “home run” hire that Will Muschamp needed but to attempt to label the hire one way or another right now is a bit premature. Roper has not been afforded the opportunity to see his new players in pads and on the field nor has he had a chance to familiarize himself with his roster and depth chart along with seeing what these guys can do on film.

“I’m obviously not very familiar at all,” Roper said of Florida’s personnel. “Right now, I’ve just been focusing on this bowl game, obviously, for the next week or so. Then I’ll start to get myself familiar. I know [Jeff] Driskel’s the quarterback and don’t know much beyond that.”

Roper will finish up his career at Duke this week when the Blue Devils take on the fighting Johnny Footballs — I mean Texas A&M — in the Chik-fil-A bowl on New Year’s Eve in Atlanta.

But have no fear coach; we’ve got you covered.

Florida’s offense was rated the worst total offense in the SEC but it wasn’t for lack of talent. Will Muschamp has recruited well during his time in Gainesville and there is enough talent on the roster to turn Florida’s offense around.

Enjoy Atlanta,  Coach, good luck matching Johnny Football in the Georgia Dome and take this cheat sheet when you arrive in Gainesville and let it guide you through the beginning of reshaping Florida football.

Valdez Showers

Showers was a surprise move from safety to running back/H-back this spring but he showed early on that it was a smart move. Stuck in a log jam at safety, Showers — a former running back in high school — was a dangerous weapon when Florida was able to get him the ball in space. Showers is fast and shifty and can be used both in the back field as a receiving threat, on sweeps or as a receiver.

He’s a versatile weapon that can allow Florida to be very multiple in whatever offense the Gators run.

Andre Debose

At Florida media day Debose said he never thought he would be a fifth-year senior at Florida when he signed a national letter of intent. Well, an ACL injury derailed the 2013 season before it could even begin and Debose will return in 2014 as a sixth-year senior.

All reports out of spring and summer camp were that Debose had turned the corner with his attitude and approach both on and off the field. Things were finally clicking and he was bringing the intensity and preparation to the practice field that two coaching staffs had begged of him previously.

Debose can be the Gators’ home run threat. His straight-line speed is unmatched and he could be the player who can blow the top off of defenses and open up the short/intermediate passing game as well as the running game.

Demarcus Robinson

When Robinson enrolled early at Florida the expectations were high. He raised the bar with his performance in the spring and summer but ran into trouble off of the field with the coaching staff during his freshman season. Robinson was suspended twice and missed three games because of a “violation of team rules.”

When announcing the second suspension, Will Muschamp said that Robinson needs to “act right.”

Well, if Robinson can get things straightened off of the field he has t he ability to be he kind of play maker that Florida hasn’t had since the likes of Percy Harvin. A tall, fast receiver who can go up and high point the ball, Robinson can be an X-factor for Florida in 2014.

Quinton Dunbar

Dunbar has been a pillar of consistency for a Florida offense that has been anything but. Dunbar has caught a pass in 28-consecutive games — breaking Carlos Alvarez’s school record. In his three years on the field, Dunbar has produced 90 catches for 1,147 yards and six touchdowns.

Dunbar will return for his final season the most senior player at his position. He has improved each season he’s been in Gainesville, as a route runner, pass catcher and a leader.

Ahmad Fulwood

Demarcus Robinson’s commitment took the spotlight off of Fulwood who had been committed to Florida for most of the recruiting process. Fulwood took time to acclimate to the speed of the college game but ended up fourth on the team in receptions (17) and yards (127) and a highlight reel touchdown catch.

Fulwood doesn’t have the kind of top end speed that will blow the top off of offenses but he is a consistent route runner and a big body who is good after the catch. Fulwood is my early dark horse to emerge as one of the two starting receivers coming out of spring camp.

Kelvin Taylor

The Florida bloodlines are strong and Taylor lived up to the hype in his freshman campaign. He overtook Mack Brown as the starting running back at the tail end of the season; finishing second on the team in carries (111) and was 35 yards shy of becoming the first freshman to lead the Gators in carries since his father, Fred Taylor, did it in 1994.

Will Muschamp has been telling anybody who will listen that the Gators will move to a spread offense in 2014. Roper wouldn’t commit to a certain offensive scheme, instead waiting to see what his personnel is before committing to a system but no matter what Muschamp says, the Gators will feature the running back position as long as Muschamp is there.

That means leaning on Taylor who is not only a talented runner but also good as a pass catcher out of the backfield.


There are the top six playmakers on Florida’s roster currently. That doesn’t include the possible additions of Dalvin Cook and Ermon Lane who are currently committed to Florida.

The good thing about a new offensive coordinator is that he will come in and everyone has a fresh slate and an opportunity to make a good first impression.

Roper will have his hands full as he is tasked with taking Florida’s offense out of the SEC cellar and back to the kind of offense that other schools marvel at. However, there is a good base of talent for him to work with and more is on the way.

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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. WE will see if there is this “talent.” None of the guys listed have actually done it yet. When I think of playmaker, I think of someone who the defense must worry about taking it all the way on any play. LIke Harvin or Taylor’s father. All the guys listed have potential, but if none display it in a game it may be time to change the current hypothesis that it is the coaches fault no playmakers have developed. It is poosible that another hypothesis is correct, namely; that there ia a lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball. I would start to wonder if that was the case when coaches who are successful elsewhere continually bomb at UF. I hope I’m wrong but Thinking that guys like Debose, Showers, Robinson, etc. are going to produce when they haven’t done so in an actual game is something that remains to be seen. I need not remind you of the Spring and August wunderkinds that never seem to be wonderful when September rolls around.