It’s here! College football is finally back. The Texas A&M Aggies will kick off the season Thursday night to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks.
It’s not Florida Gators football, but football is still back and the SEC showdown in Columbia, South Carolina should hold Gators fans over for the next 48 hours until the Gators take on the Idaho Vandals.
Kurt Roper met with the media to discuss how the offense is preparing for the Vandals and what Gators fans can expect when he unveils his new offense this Saturday night.
The Vandals only won one game last season and had a historically bad defense but they return 15.5 sacks from three defensive linemen. The defensive line is the best unit the Vandals will bring to Gainesville and Roper knows it.
“I think they’ve got a good front. I think they’ve got some guys that can rush the passer. They’ve got some active guys inside that have played a lot of football, that do a good job getting off blocks and create some issues in the pass rush.
Roper expects the Vandals to throw something at his offense that they haven’t seen on tape. This is where the fundamentals of he offense that the team has worked on these past few months need to kick in.
Idaho plays a lot of quarter’s defense (four deep zones in the secondary), which could limit the shots Florida can take down the field. Roper credits the Idaho defense for being well organized and thinks they will present a unique challenge on Saturday.
“They’ll play quarters, they’ll play halves, and they’ll mix it up. I think they’re a really well organized defense. I think that they do a really good job of getting their guys tied in together, all together. So that’s always a challenge.
Jeff Driskel: To run or not to run, that is the question
Jeff Driskel’s injury history has been well documented. Although Roper wasn’t in Gainesville for those injuries, he has talked to Jeff and watched replays to see how each one has happened.
In order to run the offense, Driskel will need to run, but that doesn’t mean putting the quarterback in situations where he’s more inclined to sustain injury.
“It’s an interesting discussion that we’re having all the time as the staff. The number one thing is winning a football game and trying to find the way to win a football game. Jeff [Driskel] does give us the ability with his feet to add to the run game and cause defenses more issues. You definitely want to use that, but at the same time you want to be smart. He doesn’t need to take any unnecessary hits. He has to know when a play is over and get down.”
Roper is cognizant of the fact that Driskel is pivotal for the offense to be successful this season. That means the staff needs to strike a balance between Driskel running and passing the ball.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re running the football or throwing the football, you’re always at a risk. We want to be smart and minimize the amount of contact that we possibly can. We need to use his ability to run the football.”
Taking advantage of a deep wide receiver group
The Gators are talented at receiver. I know, I know. You want to see it, but for now, just trust me.
Roper plans on using about eight receivers on Saturday, rotating players in throughout the game in different packages but ultimately players will earn the right to stay on the field based on how they play.
“I think that’s going to be something that evolves as the year goes on with guys that are playing well, making plays and all those things. I think we’ve got several guys that can go in and play outside — Q, Ahmad and those guys — and inside — Veldez and Pitt. We’ve got some guys that will help us out in that rotation. We’ve talked about five guys or so outside and those three guys or so inside. The ones that make plays get to stay longer.”
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