Saturday, December 16, 2017
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
No. 22 Gators, No. 19 Seminoles fall in Orange Bowl Classic games

No. 22 Gators, No. 19 Seminoles fall in Orange Bowl Classic games

SUNRISE — Marcquise Reed threw a 75-foot pass to Elijah Thomas for a dunk that put Clemson ahead to stay with 37 seconds left, and the Tigers rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half Saturday to beat No. 22 Florida 71-69 in the Orange Bowl ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Tim Tebow wants to help throw you a tailgate wedding (sausages included)

Tim Tebow loves weddings.He apparently also loves football, tailgate parties and a good brat, which might explain why he’s lending his pitchman talents to a contest that ties all four together.In a promotional video, Tebow asks, "What happens when yo...
Published: 12/14/17
River Ridge grad Chris Schwarz on brink of Division II title with West Florida

River Ridge grad Chris Schwarz on brink of Division II title with West Florida

Two years ago, Chris Schwarz was mulling over his college choices. The former River Ridge High standout had offers from Valparaiso, Florida Tech and West Florida. West Florida?That one baffled Schwarz, mostly because he knew nothing about the school....
Published: 12/14/17
Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s difficult to call a volleyball program that has been to the Final Four eight times an underdog, especially the way Florida rallied to beat Southern California and punch its latest ticket. Yet of the four schools descending on ...
Published: 12/13/17
FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

Published: 12/10/17
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

NEW YORK — Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, completing a climb from walk-on to one of the most accomplished players in the history of college football. Mayfield won a lopsided vote to become the sixth Okla...
Published: 12/09/17
Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

TAMPA — His team was in Ann Arbor, practicing. He was signing footballs in Tampa.Yet another Jim Harbaugh fun fact."I can’t be in two places at once," Harbaugh said.Not that Harbaugh wouldn’t try it if he could. College football’s firestarter, its bi...
Published: 12/08/17

Gasparilla Bowl journal: Temple’s Collins speaks highly of former boss, new Gator Mullen

ST. PETE BEACH — If anyone has an accurate read on how new coach Dan Mullen will fare at Florida, it’s Temple’s Geoff Collins.Collins worked under Mullen as a Mississippi State assistant from 2011-14. He jumped from there to Gainesville, where he spe...
Published: 12/07/17
No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

GAINESVILLE — Aundre Jackson scored 23, Cameron Krutwig added 14 and Loyola-Chicago stunned No. 5 Florida 63-59 Wednesday, handing the Gators a third consecutive loss. Less than 48 hours after Florida coach Mike White said his team’s performance agai...
Published: 12/06/17
Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

No matter what happens on the field at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, the star of the show will be the bloomin’ onion. Not the deliciously crispy, glistening, 1,900-plus-calorie appetizer served at Outback restaurants, but the person who parades t...
Published: 12/06/17