University of Florida

Florida Gators: No plans to ‘change directions’ despite offensive setback

Florida's offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, left, works with quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg (8) in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014.
Florida's offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, left, works with quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg (8) in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. AP

Kurt Roper was hired to jump-start Florida’s anemic offense and after one poor performance at No. 3 Alabama (200 total yards, three turnovers), the Gators’ first-year coordinator isn’t going to panic.

“It starts on the practice field,” Roper said. “Don’t change. Stay the course. Here’s who we are and here’s what we do offensively. Let’s keep getting better at it. … It’s not, ‘Hey, we’ve got to change directions.’ ”

Restoring confidence is the main issue for a unit that developed a defeatist attitude just last season.

“It’s been business as usual,” third-year starter Jeff Driskel said. “One loss, one bad game is not going to change what we do. We always had good practice habits and we know we’ve got to make more plays and that’s going to happen. There’s nothing we did differently [preparing for Tennessee.]”

Florida’s third-down offense (No. 109 nationally) was a point of emphasis during the week, though, as the Volunteers lead the country in opponent conversation rate (21 percent).

“We were really bad on third down against Alabama,” Driskel said. “I let the down and distance get to me, tried to force some things. But we’re not going to press, not going to change what we’re doing. We’ve just got to execute.”

ELSEWHERE

Jon Bullard, normally an end, will start at defensive tackle in place of the injured Leon Orr (meniscus). … The Gators’ secondary, torched for 449 passing yards at Alabama, introduced new hand signals this week in an effort to fix communication breakdowns. Coordinator D.J. Durkin said the staff has simplified concepts in the back end to combat the unit’s inexperience.

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