It’s a foreign concept to most of Gainesville and didn’t sit well over the last two seasons, even when Florida earned a Sugar Bowl berth at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Will Muschamp knew his defense was one of the best in the country. He had a punter and kicker that each finished as one of three finalists for the postseason award given to the best at the position.
That led to minimal offense.
The strengths of the team on defense and special teams put the Gators in a position where they didn’t want the offense to ruin their plan. In opportunities to be aggressive and deliver the knockout blow to an opponent, the ball stayed on the ground. The chances downfield were kept to a minimum, not wanting to create a turnover or put the opposition in position to score.
“At times, we were asked to play conservative and control the time of possession,” Jeff Driskel said.
That’s not the case anymore. The offense is now in the hands of Kurt Roper. No more talk of time of possession. The ultimate concern is no longer making sure the opposition doesn’t have a short field to work with. The main priority is now what most offenses care about.
“With the change of scheme, we’re immediately going to have more production,” Driskel said. “I don’t think it was a lack of talent. I think it was a lack of executing plays that were called. There were points where we wanted to punt the ball and get them inside the 10. With the change of scheme, I think there will be a lot more production offensively.”
The spring practices erased any doubt for the players that the offense would be more focused on attacking. Driskel downplayed the difficult of adjusting to the new offense, but it’s a scheme that will create changes. Some of it will be what happens before the snap.
Brent Pease used motions and shifts to try to create confusion. For Roper, the speed and no-huddle pace of the offense will do plenty to create problems with the opposition’s defense.
“This is an offense where you can put up numbers and points,” Driskel said. “I’m excited to light the scoreboard up for a change. I feel like we can go out and win games by scoring points. It’s a fun offense, an offense that can really get in a groove when we get going.”
The relationship with Roper has helped, too. He came to Gainesville with a sterling reputation for quarterback development, and Driskel is the next target. The main message from Roper this spring was about living to play another down. He doesn’t want Driskel forcing the action when he doesn’t have to.
“I learned a lot about playing the game at quarterback, like playing the next play,” Driskel said. “If you have to throw the ball away, you have two more downs to get a first down. It’s about taking advantage of the big plays and don’t let the bad ones kill you.”
There’s also the running ability that Driskel provides. It’ll be featured in this offense more, not with many designed quarterback runs, but the zone read plays offer a chance for Driskel to use his athleticism in the open field. The hope is that opposing defenses have to respect his legs, creating holes for the running backs and allowing other playmakers to get open in the passing game.
His legs are an important weapon for Driskel. He’s a skilled runner with good vision.
“I think this offense fits him better as opposed to what we may have been doing before,” Muschamp said. “To utilize his athleticism and space, some of the things he's able to do athletically is going to benefit him and us.”