GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Florida coach Will Muschamp is in a considerably better mood these days.
Maybe it’s his new assistants. Maybe it’s his new offensive scheme. Maybe it’s just a new year.
After the program’s worst season since 1979, Muschamp made significant changes - and not just to his staff.
Muschamp introduced three new coaches Monday - offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, offensive line coach Mike Summers and special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler - and announced plans to install a hurry-up offensive scheme that will include spread elements.
“We needed more tempo, we needed to create more snaps, we needed to create more space plays,” said Muschamp, who grew increasingly frustrated with every loss last season. “I felt like being in the gun would help some of our personnel, and that’s where we’re headed.”
The Gators lost their final seven games in 2013, finished 4-8 and missed a bowl game for the first time since 1990. The offense was the primary problem, finishing 113th in the nation in total yards.
Muschamp responded by firing offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis less than 24 hours after the season ended. Special teams coordinator Jeff Choate resigned in December to take a similar position at Washington.
Their replacements are tasked with helping Florida get back on track - and in a hurry.
It’s unlikely that Muschamp, who is 21-16 in three seasons at Florida, will get more than a season to turn things around. So the Gators have to find some quick fixes to the offense, and going with an up-tempo scheme can be an equalizer.
“If you can create a bunch of 1-on-1 tackle opportunities, then you have a chance to have positive yards, and positive yards keep you on the field. Our whole philosophy on offense is points per game. It’s not yards. It’s not going up and down the field. It’s how many points we can get.
“Playing the game in space creates more opportunities to score points.”
Florida hasn’t been the same offensively since 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow left school. The Gators ranked 82nd in total offense in 2010, 105th in 2011 and 103rd in 2012. Some believe it’s a talent issue; others insist it’s a talent-development issue.
Either way, Muschamp knows it has to improve.
“Philosophically, all I’ve ever asked is to be balanced,” Muschamp said. “I feel like you’ve gotta be balanced in this league. We’ve run the ball at times extremely well. … We need to throw it better. We’ve said that all along. We need to be more efficient in throwing the football and certainly looking forward to that progress.”