The bottom line will always be points, and Roper addressed that in his opening press conference and hasn’t backed away from it since. His offenses at Florida will be judged by the amount of points they score.
But there are other numbers he’ll look at to judge the progress of his group.
One hot topic in college football is number of plays a team runs during a game. Texas A&M ran 99 plays against South Carolina in its season opener last Thursday, and while that number would be a lot for Florida to achieve, its something the tempo of the new offense can help with.
Roper won’t be shooting that high when the Gators take the field on Saturday against Eastern Michigan. He said that anywhere between 75-80 plays constitutes as “running a lot of plays” with the tempo the Florida offense will use.
“We’ve never just put a number on it and said, ‘here is exactly how many plays we want to run. ‘If you get up around the 80 range, you are running a lot of plays,” Kurt Roper said. “If you get above 75, you’ve had pretty good tempo. It all really is determined by how successful you have been on third downs in a lot of instances.
“The more plays you run the more success you’ve probably had on third down, not necessarily just on first down. Sometimes you’ll run fewer plays if you’re having explosive plays on first and second down and scoring and not getting to third downs.”
Roper will also keep an eye on total yards, hoping to cross the 400-yard plateau in every game. The Florida offensive coaches will keep an eye on the number of touches for the skill players on offense, but Roper warned that it could change weekly. One receiver might have a lot of catches one week because of the matchup before it changes to a more balanced approach in the following game.
They’ll also keep an eye on completion percentage for quarterback Jeff Driskel. In Roper’s experience with David Cutcliffe, the two often expected their quarterbacks to stay above 60 percent. They were fine if that happened, but the game has changed lately.
Roper now wants Driskel to be above 60 percent.
“It’s higher now because of all the things that happen behind the line of scrimmage and things like that,” Roper said. “We used to work off of 60 percent, but it really needs to be higher.”
DUNBAR’S STREAK: Florida receiver Quinton Dunbar heads into Saturday’s game with a school-record streak of straight 28 games with at least one catch. The coaches won’t specifically diagram plays for Dunbar because of the streak, but Roper did admit on Tuesday that they’re mindful of it and want to keep it going if it corresponds with winning the game.
“You’re obviously aware of those type of things and want to be fair to a young man,” Roper said. “It doesn’t affect game planning, and it doesn’t affect the thought process. Our first goal is to go out there and win, but we would obviously like to help him keep that streak alive.
“I think it’s just like a starting streak for guys. Those guys like that when they can sit there and say ‘I’ve started this many in a row’ or ‘I’ve had this many catches in a row.’ I think that is a cool thing. That is something hard to do.”
PREPARING FOR EASTERN MICHIGAN: The Gators started their film study for Eastern Michigan on Monday, and they began implementing the game plan in practice on Tuesday. Florida had game film to watch from the Eagles’ first game of the season.
“They're a good football team,” Roper said. “They're a physical football team. I think they've got a nose guard that makes a lot of plays in your backfield and is active. I think they all play hard and they're active. I think their secondary is physical. Their corners don't mind the contact part of the game. Their safeties are bigger guys that are physical.”
The Florida offense will see some different fronts from the Eagles, but they’re mostly a 3-4 defense that tries to create confusion. They’ll also play more man coverage than what Florida expected Idaho to do last week.
Watching Eastern Michigan’s game tape is a real advantage for Florida, and it’s a luxury the Eagles don’t have.
“That’s a big help,” Roper said. “To be able to see who’s playing where and who they’re stars are, who they’re backups are, where it all starts. That’s probably one of the advantages we have over them is they haven’t had a chance to see us this year. Everybody’s got everybody’s tape. But it helps to see who’s playing in those positions and how you’re structuring it.”
ROBINSON MATURING: Roper knew about Demarcus Robinson’s struggles through his first year at Florida when he took the job. As a freshman last year, Robinson was suspended twice separately for a total of three games. He was also suspended for Saturday’s game against Idaho.
Despite that, Roper has seen his second-year receiver take steps forward on and off the field during the offseason.
“Demarcus has been great since I've been here and he's a guy that's really working hard to improve himself, if that makes sense,” Roper said. “And that's not always easy to go through some challenges that he's been through. I think he's working to try and be a better person all the time. On the practice field, he's been he gives a lot of effort. He's worked really hard. He leaves it out on the field.”