JACKSONVILLE — Will Muschamp didn’t waste any time. The Florida football coach went right to his "A" material.
In putting foot to ball and kicking off his 2014 Gator Club tour Thursday night in Jacksonville, Muschamp opened the program by telling the ballroom audience at the Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership that he’d gotten with Nike during the offseason and together they’d come up with a new line of apparel for him to wear this year.
"See this shirt," Muschamp said, tugging on his Gator polo. "It’s bullet-proof."
Just five days after UF fans got a first look at new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper’s system at Saturday’s Orange & Blue Debut at "The Swamp," Muschamp began his official barnstorming tour reiterating his intentions to fix a program that went 4-8 in 2013 that marked UF’s first losing record since 1979.
"Everyone knows last season was unacceptable and that falls on one person: me," he said. "I can’t wait for the next 109 days to go by, so we can get started."
The Gators report for fall practice Aug. 3, and Muschamp repeated the same confident statement he made to the media in the run-up to the spring game and again after it was over.
"We’re going to have a good football team next year," he said. "That’s not a false sense of being positive. It’s real. I feel good about this team. Where we are. Where we’re headed."
A lot of that has to do with the addition of Roper, who worked miracles with Duke’s offense in getting the Blue Devils to the Chick-fil-A Bowl last season. The biggest difference Muschamp has seen in Roper’s system is the players’ overall belief in the plan.
"Our players lost confidence in what we were doing offensively and it affected our team and our locker room," Muschamp said. "We have to get the offense fixed."
The process was hastened by getting quarterback Jeff Driskel fixed following his season-ending broken leg in the third game of last season. Driskel will be the first to admit he was not playing well when the injury occurred, but the coaching staff — especially Roper — and his teammates have raved about the progress Driskel made after being cleared to return to practice.
Of course, that includes Muschamp.
He cited an old saying he said applies well to Roper.
It’s about players, not plays.
In other words, take the talent you have and make the game work to their strengths.
"Kurt is very simplistic in his approach," Muschamp said. "Think about players, not plays. It sounds simple to say, but that’s where his mindset is offensively. Football is a very simple game, but as coaches, sometimes, we complicate it. But he’s done a fantastic job to this point [simplifying things] and I’m very excited."