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Florida's new offense generates lots of optimism

Florida’s Jeff Driskel, in his first action since breaking his right leg Sept. 21, goes 18-of-32 for 167 yards and a touchdown.

Associated Press

Florida’s Jeff Driskel, in his first action since breaking his right leg Sept. 21, goes 18-of-32 for 167 yards and a touchdown.

GAINESVILLE — Six hundred and six.

If you're a Florida fan looking for just the slightest light at the end of what has been a really dark tunnel since September, Saturday afternoon's 606 yards of offense between the Orange and Blue teams during the spring game might help.

New offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's spread, uptempo scheme generated offense and optimism during the Gators' final practice in front of 35,834 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Players now have 111 days to perfect it on their own before they report to camp in August. For now, all signs point to improvement, coach Will Muschamp said.

"I'm extremely pleased with the day offensively and with 15 practices and how far we've come," said Muschamp, who hired Roper from Duke, where he was offensive coordinator. "I think you can attribute all of that to Kurt Roper and the offensive staff and the job they've done.

"Our kids have been very receptive and have confidence in what we're doing. I think it's a good fit moving forward. I thought we were very efficient offensively in what we are trying to do. We didn't get to some of the quarterback running game, which is what you will see in the fall. That helps us even further with Jeff (Driskel) and what he can do."

DRISKEL'S back: Driskel played a "game" for the first time since breaking his right leg against Tennessee on Sept. 21.

"It was nice to get back out there with the guys, but I wasn't out there thinking about any injury," said Driskel, who was 18-of-32 for 167 yards and a touchdown.

Driskel rated the spring a success, adding that players are excited about what's to come.

"Whenever you have a new offensive coordinator and a new system, you're re-energized," he said.

"We felt like it's a new start and there's something about it where you can get rolling. It's been a lot of fun, and I think our guys had fun making big plays."

RECEPTIONS FOR EVERYONE: Remember, it was just a scrimmage, but the offense provided a glimpse of just how many receivers could have an impact. Among the standouts:

• Senior Quinton Dunbar (four catches for 42 yards).

• Sophomore Ahmad Fulwood (four for 32).

• Sophomore Demarcus Robinson (three for 45).

• Sophomore Chris Thompson (four for 37).

• Junior Latroy Pittman (two for 31).

• Redshirt freshman and Armwood High alum Alvin Bailey (two for 28).

"It's definitely a sample of what we're going to do," Fulwood said. "I mean no-huddles, speed, tempo. That's how we're going to show up when it comes to game day. You're not going to get anything less.

"We still have stuff to put in, but as far as the game goes and the offense we're going to run, that's what the (fans) got."

HARDIN'S REBOUND: After a miserable 2013 in which he lost the starting job late, sophomore kicker Austin Hardin showed glimpses of the high school star he was. Hardin was 4-of-4 on field goals, including a 42- and 43-yarder. Last season, he was 0-of-5 from 40 yards or longer. Muschamp said Hardin has been more consistent, and Saturday was critical for his confidence.

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

Florida's new offense generates lots of optimism 04/12/14 [Last modified: Saturday, April 12, 2014 9:48pm]
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