The frustrating part was the lack of impact on the offense last year. Showers fit into the backfield as a speed running back. The Gators didn’t have a back with game-breaking speed, and Showers moved there to be used in option plays or even catch passes out of the backfield.
He caught 18 passes and rushed the ball 12 times, averaging 2.5 touches per game for an offense desperate for playmakers.
“There’s definitely some frustration there,” Valdez Showers said. “Of course, as a player and as a competitor, you want to play especially in tight situations.”
That should happen more this season, but it will come at a different position. Showers is getting most of his reps as a slot receiver, and he showed natural hands during the open practices that will help him be a trusted weapon this year.
There are more options at the position this season. Latroy Pittman should start in the slot, but Alvin Bailey and Showers have also taken reps at the position. The time spent on defense does help Showers understand defensive coverages and what to expect before the snap.
“It definitely helped me out understanding how the defense works, the rotations, picking up blitzes,” Showers said. “All of us are adjusting to the blitzes, us adjusting to the blitzes, I can see that faster and everything because I know how defenses work.”
This year’s offense should also give Showers a better chance to make an impact. When Kurt Roper was hired in December, it rejuvenated an offense that desperately needed it. Showers remembers hearing about the hire and rushing to his computer to watch film of what the Duke offense did last season and how he would fit.
What he saw was playmakers getting into the open field with the ball, something that fits the strengths of Showers.
“Getting the ball in space,” Showers said. “That’s pretty much the benefits. A lot of guys on the team have great speed, so we get the ball out in space and make plays.”
It’s also an offense that should boost the fan excitement from watching it. The players felt the excitement level decreasing from the offense last year, but from what they’ve seen in camp, this fall should change that.
“The last couple of years, our offense was more conservative,” Showers said. “It was more about possessions and everything, getting the first downs, things like that. This offense here is about making plays, taking shots and getting in the endzone. Every play is really a play to score. It’s not a play to get a first down. We’re trying to score every play.”
The leader of the offense, Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel, is also a big reason the players expect to put higher numbers on the scoreboard this fall. He looks more comfortable and has the respect of the entire offseason after what he went through last season.
“Definitely more comfortable,” Showers said of Driskel. “I feel like this offense fits him more. His skillset, being able to run and being able to throw, he’s definitely made some strides in getting more of a feel for the game and not being as robotic in going through his reads.”