Thursday, April 19, 2018
Colleges

Florida Gators hope offense springs to life

GAINESVILLE — When Florida's football season ended in December, offensive lineman Max Garcia was among a handful of players in the postgame locker room who were adamant that changes in the offense were desperately needed.

Fast-forward four months.

As the Gators prepared this week to conclude spring practice with the annual Orange and Blue game today, there was a noticeable difference among the players.

The infusion of new blood, specifically new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, has raised expectations and the excitement level among the Gators.

"I can't wait to get it going at Florida, and get it going against some other guys and see how it works against somebody else," offensive lineman D.J. Humphries said. "I wish it was fall camp right now. I'm ready to fall into this thing."

"My sophomore year at Maryland, we did an uptempo offense," Garcia said. "I made a lot of mental and physical changes because we are uptempo. I'm just really excited. We haven't even scratched the surface yet, and we're doing some big things."

In a spring exhibition, no one will be able to determine just how successful Roper's new system will be in the fall. But what the players and coaches can tell you is that Roper has laid the foundation over the past three weeks, and the players will close practices feeling confident in the future with this offense.

"I feel like it fits not just me, but all of our players," quarterback Jeff Driskel said. "We have a lot of guys who can just make plays in space and this offense creates space. We've made some big plays against our defense, which is exciting. You know, when you turn on the film you see a bunch of guys making big plays from last year at Duke (Roper's former school) and it just gets guys really excited for the offense, and I think we've done a good job with what we've had in (15) practices."

There is more at stake than just showing off its new offense. After winning just four games last season, the Gators realize they have a restless fan base they need to win back. It's part of the reason nine of the 15 spring practices were open for the first time under coach Will Muschamp, entering his fourth season. And it's part of the reason the players believe they need to make a statement in closing spring drills.

"Coach Muschamp is kind of emphasizing first impressions," sophomore cornerback and former Wharton High star Vernon Hargreaves said. "We're just going to go out there, have fun, show a lot of effort, a lot of enthusiasm, try to execute as best as we can."

For Roper, the true test begins in August. He said he didn't put a timetable on the players' ability to grasp the system, and he hasn't spent much time analyzing whether they are ahead of schedule.

"I don't know that it's further along or not further along," Roper said. "I think our guys have a good understanding of what we're trying to do offensively. In 15 days, what you want them to be able to understand is, 'What is our base? Who are we? What are we trying to accomplish offensively?' I think they've got a good start and understanding on that, so now leading into the summer, they can keep growing in that realm and then we have another 29 practice opportunities before our first game next season. So I think in this 15 practices, our guys know what we are offensively, who we are offensively, and the direction it's going to go. I think they have a good understanding of what our base is."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Florida Gators defensive lineman Cece Jefferson will be out four months after having surgery on his right shoulder earlier this week, according to a report Wednesday evening from the Gainesville Sun.Jefferson, a 6-foot-1, 242-pound senior, injured th...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Tuesday evening's news that quarterback Jake Allen plans to transfer from the Florida Gators isn't a surprise.Allen, a former three-star recruit in 2017, was fourth on the depth chart. The St. Thomas Aquinas product didn't seem to fit new coach ...
Published: 04/18/18
Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

When former Wharton High star Auden Tate hears his name called sometime next week, he'll join a surprisingly small group.Recent Florida State receivers drafted into the NFL.Over the past decade, only two Seminoles receivers have been drafted: Rashad ...
Published: 04/18/18
Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Tallahassee police suspected Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois possessed marijuana with the intent to sell it when they executed a search warrant on his home last week, according to an affidavit.The case — which culminated Thursda...
Published: 04/17/18
Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Even as Florida State was finishing its first recruiting class under Willie Taggart, the Seminoles were already talking about what they could do in the new staff's first full cycle, for 2019."I can only imagine having a year here to be able to recrui...
Published: 04/17/18
Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

TALLAHASSEE – Florida State running back Khalan Laborn's breakout 140-yard output in Saturday night's spring game was a sign of what could be for the former blue-chip recruit.It was also a reminder of what almost wasn't for the Seminoles.With a...
Published: 04/16/18
New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

Steve Spurrier will make one of his first appearances in his new role with the Alliance of American Football tomorrow in Orlando.The league will welcome Spurrier as the coach of its Orlando team at an event at Ember (42 W Central Blvd.) at an event f...
Published: 04/16/18
Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

TALLAHASSEE – Judging by the crowd for Florida State's spring game on Saturday, Seminoles fans are excited about the dawn of the Willie Taggart era.The official attendance of 53,974 — a new record for a spring game — inclu...
Published: 04/14/18
Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

GAINESVILLE —It took some time, but the offense scored points in bunches, much to the delight of the 53,015 in attendance at Florida's spring game.And the Gators had fun doing it, pulling out all the stops with gadgets and celebrations that bro...
Published: 04/14/18
FSU quarterback Deondre Francois faces marijuana complaint

FSU quarterback Deondre Francois faces marijuana complaint

Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois agreed to a pre-arrest diversion program after police found 17 grams of a cannabis/tobacco blend in his bedroom Thursday afternoon.The Tallahassee Police Department previously received a report of drug activ...
Published: 04/13/18