Roper ready for Florida offense to debut

The long offseason in Gainesville is days from coming to an end. The stagnant offense from 2013 is gone, and first-year coordinator Kurt Roper has installed his up-tempo spread. It debuts this Saturday in The Swamp against Idaho.

The spring and fall practices have been important. They were focused on installation, and the open portions of practiced showed a Florida offense that should be rejuvenated by its spread and no-huddle principles.

It looked good in practice. Sure there were inconsistent days, but for the most part, it looked like an offense ready to go into a season and invigorate the offensive side of the ball for a program used to scoring points. It all looks good.

But none of that matters now.

What’s important is what the product looks like on Saturday at 7 p.m.

"When the lights come on, that changes everything,” Kurt Roper said. “It makes it real. You learn about players individually, how they handle it. You learn if some of the schemes that you've been teaching are ready to go necessarily, if they handle all of the changes.

“You try to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ in everything that you're doing schematically, but you can't prepare them for everything. There's going to be something Idaho throws out there that we haven't worked on. You start learning what (players) really have a great grasp of and what they don't and where you need to trim and where you can keep going."

The Florida coaches have been so entrenched in game planning this week that it has taken Roper’s mind off what his debut in The Swamp will be like. The nerves haven’t started, and they won’t for two more days. But once the Florida team bus pulls down Gale Lemerand Drive and takes a right onto University Avenue, the adrenaline will start to pump.

The Gator Walk will be another new experience for Roper on a game day, but it’s the pregame traditions that will bring the excitement for the first-year Florida coordinator and also bring the nerves.

“For me, the nerves come when you get to the stadium,” Roper said. “We all have nerves, there’s no doubt about it. I don’t think it’ll ever go away.”

At this point of game week, the game plan is set and there aren’t many changes to be made. Roper specifically tries to stay away from changing the game plan late in the week, something he learned early in his coaching career.

As expectations build for what Roper’s offense can produce this season, the perception from the Florida fan base is also important. After suffering through the offenses Charlie Weis and Brent Pease have put on the field under Will Muschamp, Roper brings an explosive scheme from Duke that needs to produce more points.

Roper was quick to say multiple times on Thursday that the ultimate goal remains winning the game on Saturday. But he also hopes that his offense can restore the faith of the Florida fan base.

"I hope they're excited,” Roper said. “I want them to be excited. I hope we meet the expectations. Whenever you are coaching at the University of Florida, the expectations are to win football games, and that's the bottom line. I hope we can do it with exciting offense and a lot of points. Obviously I don't want to let anybody down, much less the guys who you're working with all the time. We want to go out and play well. And I hope at the end of the day (the fans) are happy I'm here."

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