GAINESVILLE — After spending all but one season of his 18-year coaching career under the tutelage of coach David Cutcliffe, Kurt Roper is stepping out on his own.
One of five finalists this year for the Broyles Award given annually to the nation's top assistant coach, Roper was officially announced Thursday as Florida's new offensive coordinator, replacing Brent Pease, who was fired after a 4-8 season.
"He has a diverse, up-tempo background on offense and does a good job of adapting to what the players do best," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "The most important thing though is he has always remained balanced."
The 41-year-old began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1996 under then-offensive coordinator Cutcliffe, and he has been the quarterbacks coach on every staff with Cutcliffe as head coach. Roper spent the past six years at Duke.
In 2013, the Blue Devils ranked 69th nationally (sixth in the ACC) in total offense, averaging 408.1 yards — 234.4 passing and 173.7 rushing. Roper takes over an offense that was No. 113 nationally in total offense, saying he looks forward to the tremendous challenge he faces.
"The expectations are great," he said. "I understand that going in, and the challenge is to meet those expectations."
Cutcliffe said while he didn't encourage Roper to take the job, he always has encouraged his coaches to go where their heart leads them. Cutcliffe called Roper's coaching style "intense."
"His style would be intensity, tempo, and quality of repetition," Cutcliffe said. "From the minute they hit the field, it's going to be intense. … I wouldn't call him a laid-back football coach by any stretch of the imagination."
Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com.