11/4: Roper on Florida’s passing game, Driskel’s new role, receivers’ blocking

By Adam Silverstein
November 5, 2014

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media on Tuesday to provide some thoughts on his team’s recent upset victory and upcoming road game against the Vanderbilt Commodores, which is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.

“WE’RE GONNA THROW IT MORE”

Head coach Will Muschamp told the media after Saturday’s win and again on Monday that there were additional passing plays scheduled to be run against Georgia, but Florida was so successful running the ball that the Gators did not want to take any chances and deviate from what was working.

Apparently, Muschamp told freshman quarterback Treon Harris the exact same thing immediately after the game. In the Vine below, via WCJB TV20‘s Zach Aldridge, Muschamp hugs Harris on the field and says, “We’re gonna throw it more.”


Roper corroborated Muschamp’s claims on Tuesday.

“Our focus right now offensively, and the discussions we’ve talked about, if we don’t get better at turning the ball over, it doesn’t matter what we do. We want to be a team that is playing smart, taking care of the football and growing. But there’s no doubt Treon is going to have to be a playmaker in the passing game. Going have to be,” he said.

Though Harris still has “some work to do in the passing game,” Roper stated that it is absolutely a dimension of the offense that Florida needs to have going forward. He also believes Harris is prepared to handle the additional responsibility, though he admitted that he cannot predict what the results will be.

“He’s ready for me to call more plays than we called, whether we’re successful with them or not is a whole different discussion,” Roper explained. “He has been repping a lot more plays, and it doesn’t matter [if it is] drop back, moving pocket or play action. He has repped a lot of our offense. Knowing what the play is and then applying it successfully against the defense are two different things.”

Not trying to disagree with Roper, redshirt senior center Max Garcia had a different perspective on the Gators’ offensive plans moving forward. “I feel like plan of attack, run the ball first and pass the ball when we absolutely have to. I think that’s going to be our strategy for the rest of the season,” he said.

A NEW ROLE

Redshirt junior QB Jeff Driskel not being on the field Saturday was not indicative of his role with Florida for the remainder of this season, according to Roper. Driskel, who has been dealing with a back injury, is still recovering from his ailment but could see some action in a ball-carrying role when he is healthy enough to return.

“The healthier he gets, the better he feels, and then some of that role can take place, like the Matt Jones role [taking direct snaps] at quarterback. That’s a role that obviously Jeff can do really well at 230 pounds, 240 pounds, if he is feeling really well,” said Roper. “Now they’ve got to defend the pass more in that sense, too. So that role can obviously grow depending on how he is feeling.”

BLOCK PARTY

The running backs and offensive line got nearly all of the credit for the Gators’ impressive 418-yard rushing performance on Saturday but there should be no doubt that Florida’s wideouts were equally important, especially when it came to breaking runs to the outside and far down the field.

“I felt like it was very unselfish of our wideouts and then their effort and the things they did in the game, as the game wore on, as we continued to have success running it. Obviously, they realized there probably won’t be a lot of balls in the air as we move forward in the game. We had a plan for that going in, but again, as you continue to run the ball like that, don’t change what you’re doing,” said Muschamp.

Added Roper: “I was really pleased. They did a good job of trying to be physical, of trying to be patient when they needed to be patient, trying to dig out an extra defender when they needed to dig them out. But the effort, just the second effort, showed up with those guys all over the field, and that’s not an easy thing. It’s never an easy thing to block in space. It’s no different than a [defensive back] trying to tackle a running back in space when you have so much room to maneuver. That’s a tough skill and I thought they did a good job.”

Sophomore Demarcus Robinson in particular was dominant as a blocker. He not only held his own throughout the game, Robison found a way to block two separate defenders during junior Matt Jones’s 44-yard touchdown rush. Suffice to say, he got some well-deserved praise from his teammates this week.

“Man, I loved it. Oh man, it fired me up. Just seeing him throw two blocks on one play, on that touchdown with Matt Jones running it down the left sideline. That was just incredible. I’d never seen wide receivers block like that before. It just shows that, you know, we have unselfish players on this team,” Garcia said of Robinson’s effort.

“He still was out there, he was a playmaker, and that’s what it comes down to, guys being unselfish about being on this football team and sacrificing your body for the guy next to you. That’s what it’s going to come down to is guys willing to lay it out on the line for each other. …

“They come to Florida to score touchdowns as well as a receiver. But when they’re out there just blocking and sacrificing themselves for other people, it boosts the whole team up because we know they’re not happy with not scoring touchdowns, but at the end of the day, it’s about the team winning. That’s what motivates the receivers to go out there and block is to win the game because that’s ultimately why we’re here is to win football games.”

“When Matt Jones ran down the sideline on the 44-yard touchdown run, I think that made it 21-7, the first three guys that greeted him and were as excited as could be were all three wide receivers were standing there right with him. And when you win football games and everybody’s having fun, there is a lot more support that way, too. So really your sole focus is win games and that solves a lot of problems.”

Redshirt senior right tackle Chaz Green credited the wideouts as the main reason the Gators had 13 explosive plays on the afternoon. “You know, most receivers don’t like to block. It was fun watching them on film just flying around, blocking people like us [offensive linemen],” he said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Roper on being praised by Muschamp for calling his best offensive game at Florida: “It’s fun to win football games. I guess is the best way to answer that question. It’s hard. Anywhere you’ve ever been, it’s just hard to win games. When you go out and win the game, really simply by running the football, it makes it even more of a challenge. I guess I was just impressed with the way our guys played and the way they competed, the energy and, shoot, they just played with great passion. I was appreciative more than anything else. It was good to get with those guys.”

» Roper on whether he is worried about wide receivers not wanting to commit to the Gators because they do not throw the football (well): “I think they understand what our situation is right now. And so the ones that have an issue with it, they have an issue with it. But those aren’t our thoughts. Our thoughts are to try to win a football game. And offensively, when we were at Duke, we had three 3,000-yard passers and multiple 1,000-yard receivers. So the system is obviously in place for receivers to make plays. When you get into a season, the No. 1 goal is to win a football game.”

» Roper on whether sophomore running back Kelvin Taylor ever faltered with his confidence due to lack of snaps: “I don’t think he ever lacked confidence. I think it gets down to opportunities. Every game is its own game, and it’s fluid, but obviously when you play a game like that and you have those types of runs take place for you, it obviously is a confidence booster. But I have a hard time believing KT wasn’t ever confident.”

» Roper on redshirt freshman RB Adam Lane, who has not played yet in his Florida career: “Adam Lane is doing a better job.”

14 Comments

  1. Michael Jones says:

    A run-heavy team with 4-6 really slick pass plays specially game-planned for that week’s opponent can be successful, particularly if those plays are called at unexpected times and from formations that don’t give them away. I’ve seen Bama and Auburn do that for years.

    But run run pass, run run pass, run run pass, and asking ANY QB–let alone a true freshman–to convert 3rd and longs all game long when the other team knows a pass is coming and brings the house will not work.

    Even the occasional jet sweep NOT called to the short side of the field would help keep the defense off-balance. You just can’t be predictable in the SEC and expect to be successful, I don’t care how talented, determined or fired-up you are.

    • mjGator says:

      I disagree. This is an offensive scheme that is offensive! Gator football is built on scoring, built on utilizing our skilled position players and challenging all aspects of a defense. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that we beat our biggest rivalry (I grew up in Jax and subscribe to Spurrier’s prioritizing of victories), but I don’t believe that running the ball 90% of the time is sustainable in the SEC. This is especially true when we NEVER stretched the field. I am shocked that Georgia’s defense was that inept in shutting down the run, but you can be sure that won’t happen frequently against SEC defenses. Let’s be honest, our offensive line played great but this line isn’t a dominating group like the Nebraska O-lines of the mid 80s. I love the victory, but I don’t believe that this is a sustainable game plan for ongoing success. I know that Roper “stuck to the game plan” and it worked this time, but it further demonstrates to me that Muschamp just isn’t the right leader for this program.

      • Michael Jones says:

        “Stuck to the game plan”. . . ha ha! I believe that every offensive coordinator under Muschamp has been given no choice but to “stick to the game plan.” When it works, they get praised. When it doesn’t work (i.e. the vast majority of the time), they get thrown under the bus (e.g. Brent Pease).

        Pease didn’t run Boise State’s offense and Roper isn’t running Duke’s. “Stick to the game plan”. . ha ha. .. good one. Somebody needs to take away his headset when we have the ball.

  2. scroud says:

    I like the idea of Driskel coming in to run and sometimes throw even. Tebow did that when Leak was the QB and it worked great. The opposing team got to thinking he would just run and then he threw a TD pass. With Driskel coming in it will force the D to play both run and pass and it will be good to see him get some snaps. I still don’t blame the whole thing on him though he definitely deserves blame, but he is still a Gator and we should support him (after a fashion).

    • gatorboi352 says:

      “I like the idea of Driskel coming in to run and sometimes throw even. Tebow did that when Leak was the QB and it worked great.”

      Tebow also has two National Championships and a Heisman to his name.

      Have you seen Driskel’s passing this year? It is not a threat.

      I cannot understand this coaching staff’s infatuation with Driskel. He’s essentially receiving the opposite treatment Brantley received in 2010.

      • 305Gator says:

        Have to agree with you here, it should be obvious for all the Driskel is and has been what is holding this offense back.

  3. Matt says:

    “I’d never seen wide receivers block like that before.”

    Sorry Garcia, but the previous coach preached blocking Wide Receivers. Look at Riley Cooper who still takes that as part of the job of a WR. Fundamentals like excellent blocking WR’s is something we need to see executed well like we did against Georgia for us to be successful offensively. Robinson plays like he has a chip on his shoulder and maybe that is something our WR’s are missing as a whole. Then again, maybe that is something that is coached and the kids aren’t getting the coaching they need to be successful.

    I’m ecstatic about last week’s win and didn’t mind that we ran the ball a bazillion times because it worked, even with 9 in the box. We also attempted to block punts again (which I have a hard time remembering the last time we did that under Muschamp). However, unless we see Muschamp continue on with that ‘change’ how this team executes and the gameplan offensively, he needs to go. The next 4 games will be his litmus test to see if he can get all 3 facets (O,D ST) of the game to be on at the same time.

  4. SW FL Joe says:

    After watching Jeff literally throw away the LSU game and then become a turnover machine against Mizzou, I hope he never ever takes another snap for the Gators. I’d rather have Roper teach Jones to throw than give Jeff another chance to heave a pick six.

    • gatorboi352 says:

      ^^^This

    • 305Gator says:

      Amen brother

    • Michael Jones says:

      Driskel threw a gorgeous bomb right in stride that Robinson should have scored on but went down inside the ten. Then he threw a pass right into Westbrook’s hands for the winning touchdown that Westbrook dropped. So, yeah, Driskel lost the LSU game singlehandedly.

      Treon, on the other hand, going a whole 3-6 with a fumble, was definitely the reason we beat UGA. A few of those 60 handoffs that he made were really nice.

      Why can’t we just enjoy the win without continuing to massacre Driskel? He’s had a hard run recently but he’s also done some great things as a Gator. He made a lot of plays the year we went 11-2.

      • gatorboi352 says:

        You mentioned (almost literally) the only 2 good passes* from Driskel this year. Yes, LSU was not ENTIRELY his fault, but the guy did have 3 turnovers in that game that directly led to 10 LSU points.

        Treon is no world beater, but you know what he isn’t? As bad as Driskel. The only thing this team needed was someone slightly more competent than Jeff at the helm. They have that now, and you saw the result.

        Florida doesn’t beat UGA, let alone 38-20, with Jeff out there.

        *Yes I know he had a good throw to Robinson in the UK overtime but Jeff’s play in the first half largely had us in OT to begin with

  5. g8ter27 says:

    LOVE THE WIN! Watched the game out here on the west coast with another Gator alum and the rest of the Buffalo Wild Wings crowd probably thought we were crazy. That being said, I started thinking about the fact that the other 2 wins (Eastern Michigan doesn’t count) were by one point after being held scoreless for 3 quarters and a triple overtime home win against Kentucky.

    I was a bit concerned with Roper’s comments before where he basically said he had a very simple game plan for Treon (run the ball 60 times)….it worked, but what if we were stuffed and went 3 and out 4 times in a row..then what would he have done? Sounds like he would have kept trying the same thing.

    On the other hand how about the great effort from the O-line? Finally we were moving people and it looked like the strength of our team (which it was suppose to be pre-season). Great job O-line.

  6. badgatormfer says:

    Don’t over think any of the game/game plan…if running works run…if passing works pass…football is like life simple and you take what you’re given…ever try to force shit on people…they push back hard…move with what they give you…easy…stubborn behavior is toxic and old school…that has been muschamp Achille heal…if never go into a situation with a preconceived idea then you are much better equipped to come out with a successful result…being agnostic is both rewarding and low stress…you know why Saban is so high stress? He is trying to force everyone to play his style of football…same style that was predominant in the sec when spurrier came to g-ville and thought…shit…there are more good receivers to recruit than cornerbacks…hell…we’ll just put 5 receivers against their 2 cornerbacks…Spurrier whole strategy and that of football is mismatches…life and football is simply mismatches and litigation folks…I am single and I date amazing girls…you know how? Mismatches…I have the money and cars you dont…I fly my girlfriends to Paris first class for the weekend…mismatches

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