Day one came to an end and multiple offensive players felt like they already had a more complex offense installed than the one they worked with last season. Valdez Showers realized it during the first practice. The previous four years on campus now under his fourth offensive coordinator, Showers learned quickly in Gainesville how to adapt and pick up what the coaches wanted to do.
But this one was different.
A quick scan around the practice field showed Showers all he needed to see. Players had big eyes as they looked at the playbook and understood how much the coaching staff was putting in on the offensive side of the ball.
“Guys were like, ‘Oh my God.’ We have adjustments for everything for every coverage,” Showers said after Tuesday’s practice. “Last year, it was very simple, just get out there and go fast. That was basically the playbook. But this one is more complex, more pro-style and everything like that.”
As a fifth-year senior, Showers has seen from both sides of the field what the Gators have been doing on offense since the beginning of 2011. They worked hard during player-run practices over the summer to make sure the playbook was memorized. It took longer in the past, but the players wanted to make sure they learned it and were ready for the opening of fall camp.
Florida coach Jim McElwain complimented the retention his players had since the end of the spring, and it showed up again in the season opener against New Mexico State. Florida put up 606 yards of offense with only one penalty, and that came on the defensive side of the ball. There were no procedural issues in a complex offense, and the team spread the ball around.
There were 14 different players that made catches in the opener. That didn’t surprise Showers.
“I feel like we definitely had the playmakers,” Showers said. “It was just getting the guys the ball and creating opportunities for them as far as route concepts and everything like that. I definitely feel like this offense can give us a chance to get the playmakers the ball.”
“We have so many guys that can get open and make plays that getting fresh legs in there every time is basically what it’s doing. And guys are making plays.”
Working with McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has given Showers hope for the offense in his final season. Showers had two catches for 24 yards on Saturday, one of 10 different players that caught multiple passes.
McElwain’s energy has changed the confidence the players bring to the field and even the fifth-year senior sees a big change in the program.
“It’s definitely a different feel -- for the better, most definitely,” Showers said. “He came in and he’s making changing. We got the indoor facility. Things like that brings guys along and they say like, ‘Ah, we can ride with this coach. He’s got our back and we’ve got his back.’ That’s definitely something you need in the program to be successful.”