Spring Question No. 13: Will Florida Score?

Posted Apr 10, 2014

25 Spring Questions: No. 13. Can Jeff Driskel make the Gator O shine? (Getty Images)

2014 Spring Questions

No. 13 - Will Florida ever score?

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13. Will Florida QB Jeff Driskel and first-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper join forces and help save the job of head coach Will Muschamp?

Bob Redman, Publisher of FightinGators.com:  To believe that the answer is yes, we have to know that the style of play that Roper brings to the table is the best, or at least better, style of play for Driskel. The answer to that seems to be a big YES.

Driskel is an athletic quarterback who happens to have a cannon of an arm and can make all the throws. But he struggled in systems at Florida that want him to drop back and read defenses, checking down to different receivers in a play – Roper has to use Driskel's skills.

Roper has coached some great quarterbacks - like the Mannings – and he wants to be spread out and get the ball quickly to play makers. He would like his quarterback to be able to produce with his legs, but also be able to make the throws necessary in all of the route tree.

These are exactly the tools that Driskel brings to the table.

His legs can be a huge weapon and we saw that in his sophomore season in crunch time when he was able to make several plays scrambling, or even designed runs that they seemed to get away from him as a junior in the first three games before being injured.

Still, Driskel will have to get better at identifying defenses, and if he doesn't, it could be a long year. I expect much better things. I expect that Roper will be able to utilize the other weapons that Florida has better than the last guy. I expect the offense to improve dramatically, therefore, I expect Roper and Driskel to help save Will Muschamp's job.

Pete Fiutak: "I'm sick and tired of this! We're never gonna score. It's just not gonna happen! We're just gonna get old like these people... but they've probably scored!" … At the very least, Roper is going to make it okay to start throwing the ball down the field. Of course, though, it all starts with the emergence of Driskel as a stronger, more consistent, more confident passer, and from all indications this offseason, he might be ready to start doing even more. He'll never be Peyton Manning, but the NFL MVP will never barrel his way to a first down like Driskel can.

The Florida formula is fine when everyone is healthy and all the parts are in place. Play great defense, don't make mistakes, and rock on special teams. Florida – and Driskel – couldn't stop giving the ball away to Miami, and that was enough to lose. Even so, that was an aberration, even in a horrendous season. With that D, and if Driskel is making things happen on third downs, Florida can be more 2012 than 2013.

But the receivers have to do their part, too.

When was the last time you heard anyone sound afraid of a Florida receiver? It's not like there isn't speed, athleticism or upside, but Driskel and the Gators need Andre Debose to have a healthy knee and blow up into a devastating deep threat. He's just a part of a talented group of options, and they need to put their stamp on the offense and make Roper look great.

As a Driskel apologist, I think it's going to happen and the production will come, but the Fun 'n' Gun is long, long gone.

Rich Cirminiello: Driskel plus Roper is a fascinating arranged marriage designed to keep Muschamp from getting divorced from the Gators.

Florida needs to ignite a feeble offense that's been stuck in neutral since Tim Tebow graduated in 2009. The Gators reached new lows last fall by averaging 19 points per game and a meager 4.8 yards per play. Enter Roper, who earned this promotion following a successful stint as David Cutcliffe's coordinator at Duke. Roper's task will be to modernize the Gator attack, while fine-tuning the often-erratic play of Driskel.

To begin with, Driskel has the physical tools to recharge his career. And that's three-quarters of the battle at this level. He's big, athletic and experienced. But he hasn't been in a system that maximizes his diverse skill set. Roper is about to change everything. He's installing an up-tempo spread, with plenty of shotgun looks. Gone for good is the dated pro-style playbook. Driskel is in a perfect spot to flourish, provided he gets the required help from his supporting cast.

By December, don't be the least bit surprised if Driskel's NFL stock is soaring, Muschamp is off the hot seat and Roper is interviewing for head coaching jobs. In the event that Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard is looking for a new head coach later in the year, it's worth noting that Roper grew up in Ames.