Notebook: Roper happy Driskel lost weight

One of the main pieces of advice first-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper offered quarterback Jeff Driskel had nothing to do with on the field. He wanted his starter to drop weight. The redshirt junior was 240 pounds when Roper moved to Gainesville, and the offensive coordinator suggested he drop the playing weight to 225. That's where Driskel has played this spring.

Roper's experience goes back to his time coaching Eli Manning. Every summer, Manning would lift weights and bulk up, getting to 225 pounds by the time Ole Miss started fall camp. By the end of the fall, his weight was back down to his natural weight of 218 or 219 pounds.

Through conversations with Driskel, Roper felt like the quarterback's most natural playing weight came at 225 pounds. There wasn't need for him to bulk up and just fall back to his normal weight. It also gives him some added speed that could go a long way.

"Well 230 pounds is big enough to run and get tackled in this game," Kurt Roper said. "There's a lot of running backs that are a lot less than 230 pounds and go through that. So I think speed and quickness and being able to make people miss and protect himself is more important than 10 more pounds."

The drop in weight has helped. Roper was concerned before the start of spring with Driskel coming off his broken leg. The offensive coordinator didn't know how mobile Driskel would be or if he'd have a limp to start the spring. None of those were the case. From the start of the spring, Driskel looked like he was at full strength.

"I've been shocked in how well he has moved since that surgery," Roper said.

OFFENSIVE LINE TALENT: The spring has also given Roper a chance to evaluate the offensive line. He sees a lot of talent at offensive tackle with D.J. Humphries and Chaz Green. He also noted that Trenton Brown could serve at guard if he doesn't start at tackle.

Roper also complimented Max Garcia as "a football player," as he handles the move to center.

"That's not easy to snap the football if you've never done it and now your obviously snapping it in a gun snap every play, but he's a talented football player," Roper said.

Roper is happy with how Trip Thurman and Tyler Moore have handled the guard positions, noting them as "guys that have done it and been there." Overall, he's happy with the talent that Florida has on the offensive line.

"I think we've got some guys that can play the game," Roper said. "We gotta stay healthy in that position right now cuz we've got some young guys after that."

SEARCHING THE B POSITION: Roper continues his search for the players that will fill the B position in his offense, a hybrid of tight end and h-back. The Gators are using their tight ends at the position, and they're improving this spring. Driskel even said on Wednesday that the tight ends are the most improved on the team.

Roper pointed to a 50-yard touchdown catch from Clay Burton last week and the improved play of Tevin Westbrook. Hunter Joyer has also proved capable of handling the spot. Freshman DeAndre Goolsby has also been featured in the passing game.

"I think they enjoy being part of the pass game," Roper said. "Because of that they go out and work hard and get better at it. It's going to be an important position, and it's going to be a playmaking position for us, so we're counting on them."


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