2013 wasn’t meant to be anything better than the worst season since 1979. It should have been obvious when quarterback Jeff Driskel was sidelined before camp started with an appendectomy, while running back Matt Jones went toe-to-toe with a nasty viral infection. Jones would later go down with a torn meniscus and miss most of the season.
Driskel, on the other hand, suffered a broken leg, top NFL prospect Dominique Easley missed time with a torn ACL, stud pass rusher Ronald Powell missed games because of an ankle injury to go along with plenty of other injuries that severely hindered the Florida Gators‘ hopes of an SEC Championship.
There’s no denying the offense was affected by a slew of injuries, and using such instances as an excuse is never an acceptable premise, but how in the world could any team overcome such a series of bad luck? The Gators’ offensive attack had no bite, finishing dead last in the conference in yardage, 12th in passing, 13th in rushing and 14th in scoring, with only 18 points a game. There was zero chance to gain any consistency.
Former offensive coordinator Brent Pease was made the scapegoat for atrocious offensive showings, but the terrible rankings had been a problem a couple of years before Pease was blamed.
Former Duke Blue Devils offensive coordinator Kurt Roper was in charge of an offense that set a single-season record in points scored in 2012, and he has a great track record of developing quarterbacks in an up-temp offense; he was able to guide Duke to be one of the top 50 offenses in the nation last year en route to an ACC Coastal Division title. That may not sound spectacular, but the UF offense hasn’t been ranked higher than triple-digits for three years.
Roper will have a set of skill players to work with that is unlike anything he collaborated with in Durham, NC. If Roper can unleash the high-level talent laying dormant in QB Jeff Driskel, every Gator fan will probably chip in to pay Roper a bonus. Quinton Dunbar, Latroy Pittman and Demarcus Robinson should thrive in the new fast paced system, while Sophomores Ahmad Fulwood, Andre Debose and Chris Thompson are also expected to contribute. Roper has a talented receiving core that haven’t been utilized well in their college career.
Driskel will be taking more snaps in the shotgun behind an offensive line that has 66 combined career starts. Running backs Kelvin Taylor, Matt Jones and Mack Brown should have more open space to make plays.
The players seem confident and extremely excited to play in their new offense. If the Gators’ offense climbs to become one of the top units in the SEC, coach Roper will deserve plenty of credit. Then, maybe 2014 can be a year in which Florida is representing the conference proudly in the College Football Playoff.