By John Davis
HOOVER, Ala. – Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel couldn’t help but smile when asked about the new offense installed by coordinator Kurt Roper this past spring. Roper, a former Ole Miss assistant coach, came to Gainesville after spending five years with David Cutcliffe at Duke.
Roper helped guided the Blue Devils to 10 wins and an appearance in the ACC Championship game last season by employing an offense that accentuated the athleticism of quarterback Anthony Boone.
“It’s an exciting time to be an offensive player for the Gators,” Driskel said. “It’s a fun offense and I think we can be real productive in it.”
Last season, Duke averaged 426.1 yards per game and scored a single-season record 459 points. Last year, Florida ranked 113th in the nation in total offense and only managed to average 18.8 points per game, a figure that ranked 112th in the nation.
The Gators finished 5-7.
Vanderbilt defensive tackle Adam Butler said that while James Franklin and Derek Mason, the Commodores’ new head coach, have some similarities, Mason has a more no-nonsense approach.
“The characteristic I like about him the most is he is straightforward, he doesn’t play games, at all,” Butler said. “He’s serious and when he talks, the whole room gets quiet. All eyes are on him. I’ve heard coach Franklin was called a walking headline. He loved being in the center of attention, but that’s not the case with Coach Mason. He’s about his players and our vision together, which is winning the SEC Championship.”
Auburn was just 13 seconds from winning the BCS title last season. But for anyone who watched the Tigers lose 35-21 at LSU in the fourth week of the season that would have seemed a stretch.
“That game, that loss, bonded us as a team. We matured a lot after that loss,” tight end C.J. Uzomah said. “We could have just rolled over and played dead, but we came out and played real well the week after,” in a 30-22 victory against Ole Miss.
“It was a tough loss, but we didn’t let it ruin our season.”
Auburn won nine straight games after the setback at LSU, winning the SEC Championship game before losing to Florida State on Jan. 6.