With an offense that has ranked no higher than 104 nationally in the last three seasons, the Florida Gators are searching for answers. It wasn’t that long ago that Florida had one of the most prolific offenses in the nation but after one year of Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator followed by two years of Brent Pease, it is time for a change. The new coordinator is Kurt Roper, who spent the last six years calling the plays at Duke. With Roper, not only have the Gators made a systematic change in the style of their offense, they will likely be installing a two-quarterback system that has been a staple in the Roper offense.
Statistics show that Roper thrives on, and looks for, two quarterbacks to play in games. In the graph below, you will see that during his six seasons at Duke, Roper played multiple quarterbacks very often, with the biggest exception being in 2011 where Duke quarterback Anthony Connette was injured.
However, unlike most dual quarterback systems, one quarterback is not necessarily only a rushing quarterback, while the other quarterback is not necessarily the passing quarterback. In 2013, Duke quarterbacks Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette both were relied on to rush, pass, read defenses, and manage the huddle. Last season, Boone took 63 percent of the snaps on passes where Duke threw the ball, while Connette took 63 percent of the snaps on designed runs. But, both quarterbacks threw for greater than 1,200 yards, each had more than 10 passing touchdowns, each ran for the ball more than 65 times, and each had more than three touchdowns. Each was asked to do the same as the other, even though Boone was the better passer and Connette the better rusher.
Examining 2013 deeper, we see some interesting trends in the Roper offense.
- As a percentage of throws each threw 8% of their season throws within the red zone.
- Boone threw 60% of his passes on the season in the first half, while Connette only threw 37% of his passes in the first half.
- 47% of the plays within the opponent’s redzone were rushing plays.
- On plays within three yards of a first down on 3rd down, Roper had quarterbacks run the ball 51% of the time and pass 49% of the time.
- Quarterbacks threw the ball more when they were winning than when they were losing (51% of applicable passes to 49%)
- 106 of their 296 completions were for 15+ yards, with more completions of greater than 15 yards happening more often in the 2nd half than the 1st half (57 times to 49 times).
- Kurt Roper ran the ball with his quarterback 66 times when leading and 63 times when losing.
- Kurt Roper had quarterbacks rush the ball more in the 3rd quarter than any other quarter.
- 80 quarterback runs were ran in the 1st half and 87 quarterback runs were ran in the 2nd half.
It was not simply just the numbers that show how Roper used each quarterback, it was evident in each game that quarterbacks were used properly and switched out regularly, but not at a cadence that hurt their tempo. Very seldom did any quarterback change seem forced or questionable.
Now at Florida, Roper inherits a quality dual-threat quarterback in Jeff Driskel, but does not have anything proven behind him. The Gators will likely rely on the competition of class of 2014 quarterbacks Will Grier and Treon Harris to determine whom Roper may use in his dual-threat system, as redshirt sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg likely does not fit the dual-threat attributes that Roper has utilized throughout his career. While Roper will have to adapt to Driskel and the Florida quarterbacks, expect much of the same in the 2014 football season.