With less than 10 days until Florida’s August 30th opener against Idaho, a lot of fans are wondering what’s in store for the 2014 Gator football season. The majority of attention and chatter surrounds the offensive side of the ball and the newly implemented fast-paced shot-gun spread offense, under first-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.
Roper discussed the progress the offense has made on the practice field and how impressive the team has looked throughout preseason training camp. One player in particular, is Jeff Driskel. Roper said his starting quarterback looks much more confident and comfortable in the new offensive scheme – something that he didn’t see when the two first met last spring.
“He’s a confident guy,” Roper added. “He’s got a great look in his eye. He’s a bright eyed guy and I think where you see the confidence growing is just him understanding what we’re doing offensively. So the more understanding you have, the faster you can make decisions, the faster you can play, and the faster you can be decisive. And I think that’s the most important attribute a guy can have – being decisive as a quarterback.”
The former Duke offensive coordinator and assistant coach that led the Blue Devils to a record-breaking season in 2013 said that if he could build his ideal quarterback the building blocks would include a strong arm, a sound offensive mind, physical size and athletic ability. But more importantly, the project would start with something intangible.
“People ask me all the time, ‘What’s the most important thing a quarterback can possess?’ “ Roper said following Tuesday’s practice. “Well, it’s numerous, it’s huge. It’s physical abilities, it’s mental abilities. But the first thing that I want is a guy that is mentally tough – that you can’t shake him.”
“It doesn’t matter if the crowd boos him running off the field, it doesn’t matter if you have a four interception game, it doesn’t matter if you go on social media and everyone tells you that you aren’t any good. There’s one guy that can take Jeff Driskel’s confidence from him – and that’s Jeff Driskel.”
Driskel’s physical toughness is unquestionably there. Just rewind to the last time we saw him on the field when the redshirt junior’s 2013 season ended with a broken leg in a victory over Tennessee. His injury brought him to the ground on all fours, yet, when the UF’s staff advised and urged him to get carted off the field he refused – got himself up and limped off instead.
Physical toughness is something he undoubtably possesses and according to Roper, mental toughness and confidence is something 6-foot-4, 230 pound Driskel has acquired after putting last season behind him. The Oviedo, Florida native has all the attributes to have a phenomenal 2014 season – he has the toughness, physical size, and command of the new offense which showcases his strengths.
Driskel and company unveiled a glimpse of the much-improved offense throughout preseason practices and you can definitely expect to see an explosive offense this fall when the Gators kick off their season opener against Idaho on August 30th in the swamp.
Here’s a closer look at Florida’s new up-tempo offense, courtesy of GatorVision: