Will Muschamp enters the 2014 season on what's clearly the SEC's hottest seat. Coming off a 4-8 campaign, coordinator Kurt Roper was brought in from Duke to install a new offense and improve the play of Jeff Driskel and his Gator teammates. The word on Driskel after a single day of practice is literally "good."
“I think Jeff looked really good,” Muschamp told The Gainesville Sun. “You know, a work in progress after that (with the rest of the team). I thought the receivers competed, did a good job." Those receivers will be the key for Driskel, Roper's offense, Florida's season and Muschamp's job status.
Readers of this site know that we've been pointing to the Gators' dearth of the talent at the skill positions dating back to the end of the Tim Tebow era. Here's why: UF has not had a single wide receiver drafted into the NFL since the spring of 2010. That receiver was Riley Cooper. A year earlier, both Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin were drafted. Andre Caldwell went in 2008. In 2007, Dallas Baker was selected. Chad Jackson was drafted in 2006.
That was a string of five straight years in which at least one Gator receiver was drafted. But over the last four drafts? Nada. No surprise then that Florida's passing rank within the SEC the last four years has fluctuated between 10th, 5th, 14th and 12th. And Cooper was the last Gator to crack the SEC's top 10 in receiving yards way back in 2009.
For all the mud slung at UF's quarterbacks post-Tebow, there's not exactly been a slew of talent surrounding Florida's signal-callers in that time. And this from a school located in one of the most talent-rich states in America.
Part of the problem could be turnover on Florida's staff. The Gators will feature their sixth different receivers coach in as many seasons this fall. That kind of change at one position isn't conducive to steady growth and player development.
At SEC Media Days, Muschamp revealed that Roper's new spread offense will utilize Driskel in the shotgun more often. Driskel was recruited as a shotgun quarterback and his stats have been better at Florida when he's been in the gun. So it makes sense to put him in a system with which he's comfortable.
But unless sixth-year receiver Andre Debose or some of the more youthful Gator wideouts develop into consistent targets, a system change for Driskel might not matter. It's time for the flagship school in the Sunshine State to start producing NFL-caliber receiving talent again. And if that doesn't happen in 2014, Florida might just have a new head coach and yet another new receivers coach by 2015.