Florida's mission this spring was not only to install new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's hurry-up, no-huddle offense; it was to find the primary players who will make that offense click.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel completed 19-of-33 passes for 171 yards and one touchdown in the spring game, adding 27 yards on the ground.
Is that efficient enough? Not really.
In fact, the 5.2 yards-per-attempt average is downright mediocre. But there was a silver lining, because Florida made a concerted effort to spread things around and play fast. As a result, several key pieces of the wide receiving corps stepped up.
Demarcus Robinson had 45 receiving yards, including a 31-yard touchdown reception. Quinton Dunbar had 42 receiving yards, including a 22-yarder. Chris Thompson had 31 yards and a touchdown, and Ahmad Fulwood had 32 receiving yards.
Florida found options at wide receiver and picked up on the new scheme well, which pleased head coach Will Muschamp.
“I'm extremely pleased with the day offensively with 15 practices and how far we've come," he said in quotes released by Florida. "I think you can attribute all that to Kurt Roper and the offensive staff and the job they've done.”
That is what Florida needed to do. Spring was the time for installation with fall camp becoming the "fine-tuning" phase of the offense. Driskel and the wide receivers picked up on the offense and what its goals were this spring, and they can tweak as needed this summer.
What will some of those tweaks be?
The return of slot receiver Andre Debose to full speed will be one. The 5'11", 189-pounder has largely been a disappointment since signing with the Gators in 2009, but Roper's track record of success with smaller slot receivers bodes well for Debose to shine as a sixth-year senior if he stays healthy. Two Duke receivers under Roper who were similar in stature to Debose—Jamison Crowder (2012, 2013) and Donovan Varner (2009)—topped the 900-yard receiving mark in those seasons.
Will Florida finish in the top half of the SEC in total offense in 2013?
Add in running back Matt Jones, who could be used either as a pure running back or as an H-back, and Roper's options will grow during fall camp. With Jones, sophomore Kelvin Taylor and senior Mack Brown, they could turn to more of a hurry-up power attack like Gus Malzahn's Auburn Tigers if they want to.
However the offense evolves, the foundation has been laid. Players have grasped the tempo and the scheme, and they now have the opportunity to fine-tune the offense when the next practice session starts in August.
Does Florida have to post one of the top offenses in the conference?
No. The bread and butter of the Gators will be a stout defense yet again. As long as Roper can get them moving the ball consistently, it's all they'll need to get back into the SEC East discussion.