Roper impressed with Driskel's ability

Kurt Roper wanted to coach Jeff Driskel at Duke. The former Blue Devils offensive coordinator was one of a long list of coaches that made an early run at Driskel during his days at Hagerty High School. Now in spring practices as the first-year offensive coordinator at Florida, Roper is impressed with his first week as Driskel's coach.

The spring in a new scheme is a balancing act for a first-year coordinator. Roper wants to input his offense as fast as possible to give the players more time to digest it and get comfortable. But he doesn't want to go away from working on fundamentals and mechanics for different players.

Even though Driskel decided to attend Florida and not play for Roper, the two are together now with two years of eligibility left for the quarterback. After the first five spring practices, Roper's memory of Driskel's talent from the high school level lived up to the hype.

"He's really talented," Kurt Roper said. "I didn't get to see him much before I got here, but that's a big, powerful, fast-twitch, natural throwing motion. He's talented, folks. We're sitting here talking about a guy that's really, really gifted."

Roper thought he had a good idea of what he was getting from Driskel after time spent in the meeting room. The two had some conversations before Roper moved to Gainesville, but their time watching film produced a relationship that has taken off since the early part of the year.

When Roper flipped on the Duke film from his offense last season, he was able to talk with Driskel about the offense. He heard Driskel's opinions on plays and had in-depth conversations about what they would do while installing the offense, even before stepping on the practice field for spring practice.

"His experience shows whenever we have conversations," Roper said. "He understands football. It's not his first rodeo. When we start talking coverages or fronts and how pressures are mirroring each other, he understands. His eyes end up in the right places a lot right now. And now it's working out all the new things -- how we run curls, how we run digs, the depths of it."

The importance of that isn't just for this spring. It's also essential that Driskel knows the offense better than any other player on the team. As the starting quarterback, it's his responsibility to be in charge of the ‘player run practices' that occur over the summer.

If there are questions about the plays during those practices, Driskel is the one in charge. And Roper feels fully comfortable with that happening.

"He has command of the football, and that's hard to teach," Roper said. "You either have it or you don't, and he has command of it."

The installation is important and has shown positive signs this spring, but Roper knows what he's looking for. He knows players in his offense are getting comfortable when Roper can speak about different players and the players can visualize them in their mind.

That is already starting to happen for Driskel, showing the leadership and understanding Roper looks for in a starting quarterback.

"He has a lot of that," Roper said.

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