Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media on Tuesday to provide some thoughts on his team’s second-straight victory and upcoming return home against the South Carolina Gamecocks, which is set for noon on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.
FINDING SUCCESS AT QUARTERBACK
Head coach Will Muschamp had plenty of praise for freshman quarterback Treon Harris after Saturday’s victory, but Roper was forced to hold his until Tuesday.
When he did get to speak about the young signal caller, Roper said that Harris has communicated his increased comfort level in the offense. Now that Harris is taking nearly all the first-team repetitions, his knowledge of the system is growing and he personally is maturing on a weekly basis.
“He reminds me a lot of Thad Lewis, a guy I coached at Duke University, where I think he enjoys playing so much that he doesn’t feel maybe the outside pressures or things like that. It’s kind of the way I see it,” explained Roper. “It’s really interesting and so I think he’s a guy that obviously he understands the role but I think he just goes and play s and doesn’t let the other things influence him.
“It’s kind of interesting to see, but it reminds me of Thad so much. Thad went into the NFL as a free agent – and I tried to tell I don’t know how many people – he’s good enough to play in that league and every time he got an opportunity to play in that league he played really, really well. It’s because when he got the opportunity he’s excited about it and not worried about it, and Treon’s that way.”
Also helping Roper has been his teammates’ ability to ensure that the Gators are in manageable distances on third down. When faced with third-and-short, Florida is able to either run the ball or throw a higher-percentage pass rather than chuck the ball 8-10 yards in hopes of converting and continuing a drive.
That has played a role in the Gators only turning the ball over twice in the last two games compared to 15 times during a four-game stretch heading into the bye week. Also helpful? Harris’s ability to sense pressure in the pocket and not get flustered when he sees defenders on their way to smack him down.
“He does a great job of not seeing the rush but seeing down the field and buying a little time,” said Roper.
“There’s obviously still things we got to work out and he hasn’t arrived by any stretch of the imagination, but he does have a calm demeanor. He does a good job with his vision and buying a little time and moving in the pocket and just making plays.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On senior “tight end” Hunter Joyer not seeing the field: “I think he’s a really intelligent, good football player. What you prefer at that B position is more length. … [NFL] people are going after more and more tight ends, length, multiplicity. When you train a tight end, you train a guy on the line of scrimmage, you train a guy unattached running routes. One of the easier things to do is back a guy up into the backfield and run a guy into somebody; that doesn’t take a whole lot of training – that just takes want-to.”
» On Florida’s issues at the goal line against Vanderbilt: “I think it gets down to being on the one-yard line and everyone playing press zero and containing you. It’s just a tough situation. … You just run out of space is the biggest issue you run into, so you try to create a numbers issue with your quarterback. That’s going to be an issue any time you go. Until the Vanderbilt game, we had seven plays on the one- or two-yard line, and we had four touchdowns. That’s pretty productive. … It’s space, that’s what it gets down to. It’s space. … It’s simply a numbers game. You’re not going to be able to block everybody on the one-yard line so somebody’s going to have to try to make some yards on their own.”
» On whether the Gators are balanced enough for his tastes after running the ball 110 times combined in the last two games: “Balance gets down to scoring more points than the opponent. … We would like to be a run-first, physical-mentality team; I think that’s our identity that you’re seeing. But the game can change based on the score, so that can fluctuate balance but if the score can stay good then we can stay pretty balanced. It really gets down to at the end how are we going to score more points than the opponent and hopefully it goes well from there. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a 24-7 lead and 31-7 lead early in the fourth quarter the last couple of games, so that can lead to 50 runs and 60 runs in a game.”