Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and a couple of his players met with the media on Tuesday to provide some thoughts on Florida’s first game and the Gators’ upcoming contest against the Kentucky Wildcats, which is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.
KEEPING THEIR HEADS
Florida’s offense exploded on Saturday to the tune of 65 points and 655 yards of total offense, though Roper was not necessarily surprised by the performance.
“Yeah, that’s not easy to do,” he said. “I think as coaches what you look at [are] the things that you have to improve on. Obviously it’s nice to win and score that many points and all that but there’s so many things to correct that that’s what sticks on your brain as a coach. We’ve got to be better here or it’s going to create some issues.”
As a coach, Roper is used to keeping his head and not letting his players get too far into the clouds after stellar performances. On Tuesday, he explained exactly how he goes about doing that on a weekly basis.
“You truly try to make it a day-to-day process. 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,” he said.
“If you look beyond more than one day, then I think you’re getting off track. And you know I think one of the things that’s out there, maybe Chip Kelly started it or Oregon started it, they talked about, ‘Win the day.’ That’s just another way of saying it. You know it’s all semantics but if you can focus on each day at a time then you don’t get outside of what you really need to be concentrating on.”
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL
The Gators finished +5 in turnover margin and did not cough up the ball once last Saturday, but Roper nevertheless saw plenty of issues with how Florida – specifically its receivers – treated the ball once gaining possession of it.
“Most of it is when guys get running with the football and they’re not doing a great job of keeping it protected. We talk in terms of five points of pressure and keeping and squeezing the ball into your ribs and keeping your wrist above your elbow,” he explained.
“We had one, it was a great third-down conversion where [Demarcus Robinson] took it and put in one hand. Just things that are going to cost you. Just truly, truly cost you.”
Robinson acknowledged his mistake.
“I definitely need to take more security in my ball security. I definitely had chances where it could’ve been stripped away from me at any time,” he said.
But ball security is not a weekly goal for Roper. Rather, it a season-long mantra that is simply reinforced on a weekly basis.
“Ball security is something that you always talk about. It’s the first thing when you start to go into your goals every year. You start talking about things that are important offensively, ball security is always No. 1 and it doesn’t ever change. It’s never something that takes a backseat to anything. … We try to put a lot of emphasis on that the entire time,” he said.
Florida got off 50 plays on offense in the first half and 86 for the game, slowing down over the latter portion of the contest (especially after scoring 21 points in the third quarter).
According to Roper, the Gators on average needed 11 seconds to get off a play – snapping the ball with 14 seconds left on the play clock. He would prefer Florida move quicker, getting the ball in redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel’s hands in seven seconds with 18 left on the clock.
“I’ve never been one to really harp on tempo. It’s all about execution, staying on the field and those things,” he explained. “We had 21 snaps on Saturday that were outside of 18 seconds on the play clock. … We would like to obviously have more than 21 plays outside of 18 seconds, and I think it gets down to our guys understanding giving the ball back to the official getting lined up in a hurry.
“Too many times we left the ball on the ground at the end of a play where an official has to go get it to spot it and those types of things. So, I think we can obviously play faster just looking at those numbers, but again, it’s all about making plays.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Roper on whether he was surprised by redshirt senior tight end Clay Burton’s success on Saturday: “I can’t say that I was surprised. We’ve been out there quite a bit in practice. I think he is a guy that has been steady for us the whole time. I think he understands. He’s got a lot of experience to go back on. He just gets the game now because he’s older. He plays with a great base, and he understands how to be in good positions, so that just carried over to the passing game. He gets big picture, so he knows where he fits into schemes and gets in the right spots and makes those plays.”
» Roper on how freshman TE DeAndre Goolsby can contribute: “I think at that position, you’re talking a true freshman playing a violent, physical position that carries a lot in our offense. And so, that’s why typically you don’t see true freshmen playing a whole bunch at that position. There is so much going on for him, run game, pass game, protections, matching up against 270-pound guys in certain situations. It’s a challenge. You like those guys to be able to grow and develop a little bit. He’s got some athletic ability in space that is pretty good.”
» Redshirt senior Chaz Green on moving to left tackle as an injury replacement: “I’m glad that I have the experience and I can go over there and play that side and we don’t have to put a young player there that doesn’t have the experience that I have. … I’m just willing to do whatever helps the team out.”