Practice observations: Offense

The Gators opened spring practice on Wednesday, debuting the offensive scheme of first-year coordinator Kurt Roper. There were noticeable changes in the formations and tempo used on Wednesday compared to the ones used in past spring practices. The new offensive will have the Gators in better shape because of its quick pace.

The most obvious difference in what Florida did on Wednesday compared to last season was the tempo. When the play ended, the entire offense sprinted to the ball before receiving signs from the sideline and changing the play.

The other noticeable change was the lack of plays that started under center. If there were any, I missed them. Everything I remember was exclusively from the shotgun. Will Muschamp did say after practice that they'll have to implement under center packages later, but he joked that they would come only as the team was in victory formation to take a knee and seal a victory. It's clear this offense will be run very heavily from the shotgun formation.

Things were inconsistent for Jeff Driskel on Wednesday, which is probably what was expected. He started out practice with some nice throws, hitting Quinton Dunbar deep for a 50-yard pass that was dropped, but the throw was on the money. As practice went on, his throws got sloppier, including a few lazy deep balls that would've been intercepted by most secondaries. Whether that had to do with the tempo or simply his first practice back from a broken leg, who knows.

Will Grier was the best quarterback on the field in the second half of practice. His arm motion is unique, as it looks like the ball comes from just above his belly button to start his throwing motion, but the ball gets out of his hand in a hurry. He made mostly short throws while starting practice as the third string quarterback but put them on the money. He did unleash a few deep balls, hitting Gainesville High School walk-on Case Harrison down the right sideline on a beautifully thrown ball, but Harrison couldn't get a foot inbounds.

Florida worked out in shorts and helmets on Wednesday, so it's hard to judge much from the running backs. Kelvin Taylor showed his usual shiftiness before taking a hit to his thigh and leaving practice. He broke off a few long runs before he was touched, but again, it's hard to take much from that when there isn't much hitting going on.

Taylor did get a lecture from Kurt Roper after jogging through a route in the flat. Driskel threw the ball his way, but it was clear Taylor wasn't expecting to have the ball thrown at him, and it was dropped. Roper lectured him about it, demanding that he respect the route and run it with complete focus.

The starting wide receivers were Quinton Dunbar, Ahmad Fulwood and Latroy Pittman. Dunbar made a few nice catches in the open field. Fulwood was used on routes closer to the line of scrimmage, and he had a few sloppy drops. It's clear his size will be used down the field, even if he didn't connect with the quarterbacks on Wednesday.

Demarcus Robinson worked with the second team but didn't run many deep routes. He did introduce freshman cornerback Jalen Tabor to college football with a double move during his first rep of one-on-one. Robinson caught multiple passes close to the line of scrimmage, allowing him to use his agility in space.

The Florida passing game was mostly built around the short passes on Wednesday, including multiple receiver screens to Valdez Showers. His speed looks to be an important part of what the offense is built around.

One other note at receiver -- redshirt freshman Case Harrison made multiple catches, including one rep where he actually beat Vernon Hargreaves on an inside route.

The tight ends were average on Wednesday. Clay Burton served as the starter and had a few of the drops that have plagued him in recent years. DeAndre Goolsby was the one I focused on, and it was easy to pick him out. He has a different look than the other tight ends on the roster.

Goolsby had his expected freshman moments and added a drop or two, but it's fun to watch how easily he moves when he gets down the field. He needs to improve at getting off the line of scrimmage, but once he makes that happen and settles into college football, he'll be a weapon at a position of desperate need for the Florida offense.

This was the first team offensive line -- left tackle D.J. Humphries, left guard Trip Thurman, center Max Garcia, right guard Tyler Moore and right tackle Chaz Green. As with the running backs, it's hard to tell much from this group when they weren't going at full contact. Trenton Brown is still the largest player on the field, but he did looked to be trimmed down some from last season.

Humphries also had a noticeable belly, which is the first time I can remember thinking that about him since he got on campus. Muschamp said this is the first time he has maintained his weight over 290 pounds since showing up in Gainesville.


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