A shotgun wedding rarely ends well. But UF coach Will Muschamp is counting on quarterback Jeff Driskel and Kurt Roper's up-tempo scheme to form a perfect union a season after the Gators' offense finished last in the SEC in 2013. Roper will place Driskel in the shotgun formation and highlight the dual-threat abilities that made him the nation's No. 1 quarterback recruit out of Oviedo's Hagerty High School in 2011. With spring practices set to begin next Wednesday, Muschamp said no starting position is safe after UF's 4-8 finish. Yet Driskel played a major role in the decision to hire Roper to replace Brent Pease, who was fired as offensive coordinator after two seasons. "I think he's more comfortable in the gun," Muschamp said of Driskel Tuesday. "A lot of the reason why we went to this was because of Jeff and as we move forward at the quarterback position." How well Driskel picks up Roper's system and performs could determine Muschamp's future following the program's first losing season since 1979. Muschamp is eager to see Driskel, who is expected to be fully recovered from broken leg, lined up in Roper's offense. Muschamp said UF averaged 6.8 yards a carry out of the shotgun in 2012, compared with around four yards per carry with Driskel under center. Meanwhile, Driskel's completion percentage is better than 60 percent out of the shotgun, yet lower than 50 percent when under center. "Obviously, we're more comfortable in the gun situations," Muschamp said. Driskel had his moments under Pease but generally appeared miscast in a pro-style system. Driskel's size (6-4, 239) and ability to both run and throw the ball are better suited for a spread offense. Too often he seemed paralyzed by the decision-making required in Pease's scheme. In 2012, Driskel managed just 12 touchdown passes and suffered 35 sacks for the SEC's worst passing offense. At the time of his injury in 2013, Driskel had committed five turnovers in fewer than nine quarters. One thing Driskel did consistently well was run. He totaled 716 rushing yards, not including sacks, in 2012. Roper's scheme should simplify Driskel's responsibilities and capitalize on his strengths. Roper also had a heavy hand in developing the passing skills of Eli Manning at Ole Miss and Thaddeus Lewis and Sean Renfroe at Duke. "His track record speaks for itself," Muschamp said of Roper. While the Gators' offense will begin with Driskel, Muschamp said Roper has inspired the entire offense during the limited time coaches are allowed to spend with players during the offseason. "I know from the schematic standpoint, the guys are excited about what we're doing," Muschamp said. "You've got to have belief in what you're doing. I feel like that was a huge issue for us last season. "We lost belief and confidence in what we were doing. It affected our entire team from the offensive side of the ball."
Muschamp sees UF quarterback Jeff Driskel thriving in shotgun formation for Gators
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Mar 12