Change was in the air at Florida's 2014 spring football camp. Months removed from the worst Gators season since 1979, new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper installed an up-tempo spread offense that was visually different from what fans have grown accustomed to in recent years.
To get expert opinion on what took place, ITG caught up with former Florida quarterback Noah Brindise and offensive lineman Shannon Snell -- both present for multiple spring practices - and asked for their thoughts on the return of the spread to Gainesville.
What are your overall thoughts of the offense you saw the Gators run during spring camp?
Brindise: "I don't know how much of a change it is. Last year, you look at the beginning of the season when Jeff Driskel was playing, what I saw was a philosophical change somewhat in terms of trying to get more spread out of the offense. Once he got injured, they had to revert back to some more basic stuff. I think there was intent on implementing more spread last year but it didn't work out because of the injuries. But I certainly think it fits our personnel better than trying to be an I-formation, downhill running type of team."
Snell: "The last three years, it's just been kind of dreadful watching the offense. We've become a defensive team, which is OK as long as you're winning games. But right now, there are so many offenses around the country putting up points and winning games. I just want to see a little excitement. I'm from that Steve Spurrier era, the fun and gun. I loved watching Urban Meyer when he was there and his offenses. I want to go back to that, be that team that wins games with offense. I was actually excited when I came up for spring practice. It was encouraging. It's not all the way there, but it's coming along pretty rapidly."
Do you think we're seeing the evolution of Will Muschamp as a coach, going against some of his previous beliefs?
Brindise: "Will's a smart guy, and I know he's looked back at his first couple years and said, 'Well, that didn't work out the way I wanted it to. We've got to do something different.' Everybody has got an idea of what they think they want to be when they're a head coach. When they become a head coach, it's the guys that are able to be flexible in their philosophies that do well.
Snell: "Coach Muschamp is really defense-minded and I understand that. That's what he's always coached. He's a defensive guy, but you have to evolve with the game. You look at how coach Spurrier was, fun and gun and throw the ball around all the time. That's all good and well as long as you have the playmakers for it. Now he's at South Carolina, he runs the ball most of the time. Coach Muschamp needed to realize defense isn't going to win you every single game. There are teams that can beat you because they run high-powered offense. At some point, the offense is going to have to win a game. Unfortunately in the past few years, it hasn't been like that. For him to have a successful season and hopefully keep his job, he has to show this offense can put up some points and win the close games they're losing."
What did you like most about the offense?
Brindise: "Things happen quicker. You've got the ability to get the ball in the playmakers' hands quickly. It doesn't appear there's a ton of blocking schemes. It's fairly simple, which is the way you've got to be nowadays. With the multiplicity of defenses, the less your offensive line has to think and communicate, the better off you are. Stadiums are loud and it's tough to get all that information passed on. I feel pretty good that we've simplified things and gotten our good players in position to make plays."
Snell: "Everything is on the move now. Everybody gets too caught up in pro style vs. spread. It's just whatever puts points on the board. Even Meyer's latter years, UF has been conservative and has waited for plays on special teams and defense. The way it looks now is that the offense can make a big play at any time. Some of these freshmen, redshirt freshmen, they're big playmakers. It's been a while since Florida has had a guy that can hit a home run or take it all the way. We've been dink-and-dunk offense for so long that it's become normal and we know what to expect."
Saturday, Brindise and Snell discuss how the new offense can impact recruiting, possible concerns about the system and what it will take for Florida to save face after an abysmal 2013.