Friday, May 25, 2018
Colleges

Florida Gators hope to score with major changes

GAINESVILLE — Will Muschamp spent a significant amount of time in the spring traveling the state, telling Florida fans the Gators will be a much better football team this season.

After a 4-8 record in 2013 and no bowl bid, Muschamp is putting a great deal of faith in new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and a brand new up-tempo system — "a drastic offensive, schematic change" — he believes will improve the Gators.

In many ways, Florida's season is being decided right now, because how well the players can perfect the system during the months heading into August's preseason camp will go a long way in determining what happens in the fall.

"The summer is for timing on the offensive side," quarterback Jeff Driskel said. "We're going to have to throw a lot and get our timing down. You can't go back into fall camp without being in rhythm. So we're going to have to do that, but we're used to that.

"It's not getting back to a new start. We weren't used to (an up-tempo offense). We were used to huddling, so this is different."

For UF and Roper, time isn't a luxury they can afford as a disgruntled fan base watches closely to see if the changes are successful — quickly.

"Obviously, the expectations are great," Roper said. "I understand that going in, and the challenge is to meet those expectations."

A complete change in one season isn't easy, but it's possible, say those who have succeeded with this system.

"I haven't had an experience with (a complete offensive change), but I would think you would have to have somebody that has a good understanding of that or you could end up (badly)," said Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze, who has successfully run the up-tempo offense for many years.

"The worst thing about it is if you have a bunch of 3-and-outs, it's not real good. I don't know how many people are wholesale shifting like that, but I would think they would certainly have to bring someone in who could do that if that's what they're going to hang their hat on."

Roper's offense helped lead Duke to a 10-win season last year, and at the end of spring practice, Florida players raved about it. But the Gators have had just 15 practices to work on it. The players are working among themselves all summer and say video study is critical, but preseason camp will have added significance because of the need for repetition.

"I think it's like anything else. You've got to get used to something," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, whose up-tempo offense revamped the Tigers' program in one year last season and landed it in the BCS title game. "The more experience you have in something, the better, more efficient you'll be. But in my experience, it doesn't take long. Thinking back to when I used to huddle up and then the next year we went to no-huddle and playing fast … you know, it just took a period of time."

There was a time not so long ago when scoring enough points to earn a lead, then holding on with defense was the standard in the SEC. But many in the league — and the rest of college football — have taken a different path. The SEC title game last season featured two up-tempo offenses, Auburn and Missouri.

So, too, did the national title game between the Tigers and Florida State. The Seminoles were able to rally from a 21-3 deficit and win with their ability to play fast.

Freeze said if the offense is successful, it can lead not only to victories but greater fan interest.

"It's what I've always done," he said. "It's what I believe in, what I believe gives our kids the best chance to compete. It's difficult running any kind of offense in this league because of the talent and speed and size that you face on the other side of the ball. But it is growing. I know it's a fun brand of football for people to watch."

Which, along with victories, is what the Gators desperately need.

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

 
Comments
FSU starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

FSU starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

Florida State starting offensive tackle Josh Ball faces a university suspension after a Title IX investigation found him responsible for dating violence.The suspension came to light in a Facebook post Monday afternoon by Sandra Sellers, an FSU studen...
Published: 05/22/18
Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

TAMPA — Florida State coach Willie Taggart fielded an interesting question near the end of his Q&A with fans during Sunday's booster stop at Armature Works.Are the Seminoles going to be going for it more on fourth down?"We will be goin...
Published: 05/21/18
Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

One of the first big nuggets from preseason college football magazines is out: Athlon's top 25.The site considers its rankings a prediction of where teams will be at the end of the year, not the beginning.Alabama and Clemson are 1-2 (no shock). Miami...
Published: 05/21/18
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Published: 05/20/18
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Published: 05/20/18
ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

The ACC has released some kickoff and TV information for the first three weeks of the season:Week 1 (previously announced)Miami vs. LSU (in Arlington, Texas): Sunday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., ABCVirginia Tech at Florida State: Monday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m., ESP...
Published: 05/18/18
Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Old, unofficial news is expected to become old, official news today with a formal announcement that Florida State and Boise State are kicking off the 2019 season in Jacksonville.  A lot has changed since the schools announced the series (FSU pla...
Published: 05/16/18
FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

What had been an open secret for months is now open and shut: Group of Five power Boise State will face FSU at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville in the teams' 2019 opener.A formal announcement is expected Wednesday, but the '19 schedule on Boise's offi...
Published: 05/15/18
RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

TAMPA — He’s the accidental pitcher who can’t be pigeonholed into a defined role. He’s a well-spoken economics major who morphs into fire-breathing intensity on the mound. And he’s one of the biggest reasons why the University of Tampa Spartans are p...
Published: 05/15/18
Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

One of the Florida Gators' top incoming recruits was released from jail early Wednesday after police allege he kicked a female's car and broke her phone after an argument.Justin Watkins — a four-star athlete from Clermont — and ...
Published: 05/10/18