The goal for Saturday was to get the offense off to a quick start. The offensive coaches talked about it during the week of preparation, wanting the offense to put up points early and start to build confidence. For a team that struggled to move the ball at all last season, the coaches wanted to improve the players’ mindsets and put up points early.
The Gators put up 17 points in the first quarter and went into the locker room with 30 points at halftime, one point short of their season high from the 2013 season.
“We talked about it as an offensive staff that it would be nice to have some success early because then it does feed on itself, it does help,” Kurt Roper said. “If you go out and have some successful plays, it can keep growing. You hope that’s the case that our confidence keeps growing and we keep making plays.”
When the game was over, the focus already turned to the Kentucky game. That’s the only way Roper knows how to operate. The energy brought to the program on Saturday was important, but the Florida offensive coordinator learned a while ago that taking the focus off the next game is a quick way to derail offensive momentum.
“You truly try to make it a day-to-day process,” Roper said. “You truly just want to go compete each day to get better. And if you look at it that way, if you just take it one day at a time -- and yes in a lot of ways that is coach speak -- but the reason we hammer that in is if we can get those guys to buy into it and believe in it, then there is no roller coaster ride. There is none of the question that you’re asking.”
But success can make that mindset more difficult. Players can buy into their own hype, even if it comes after a win against Eastern Michigan. That’s what Roper and the offensive staff will be fighting this week, stealing Chip Kelly’s “win the day” motto that Roper heard years ago.
Success can even make the coaches be harder on the players, and there were plenty of things to point to on the film. The offensive coaches were frustrated with the ball security issues and that will be a focus in practice this week.
“We’re all pretty hard on them on the practice field,” Roper said. “Sometimes that’s where you go out there and try to coach them back into reality. There is enough on the film to show them, hey, there were a lot of things that could have been better, or really cost us.”?
Roper and offensive line coach Mike Summers spent time talking about their approach to coaching this week. Summers’ father-in-law, former Kentucky basketball coach Joe B. Hall, used to coach his teams harder when they were winning and playing well.
It’s an approach Roper and the offensive coaches have talked about this week.
“The biggest thing is truly getting them to buy into one day at a time,” Roper said. “If they’ll do that, and we go get a little bit better, then we’ve got a chance to keep our minds right.”