Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper is the man tasked with fixing the Florida offense and saving embattled head coach Will Muschamp.
The hiring of Roper, who also served as assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach for the Blue Devils, will be announced later this week, ESPN.com reported.
The Gators had one of the worst offenses in all of college football, especially after quarterback Jeff Driskel broke his leg in the third game of the season, averaging 316 yards of total offense and 18.8 points per game. The passing offense was especially dismal, accounting for only 11 touchdowns, though that could be remedied by the return of Driskel.
Driskel (6-foot-4, 237 pounds) showed promise as a second-year sophomore last season, leading Florida to the Sugar Bowl by throwing for 1,646 yards and 12 touchdowns against five interceptions and rushing for three touchdowns. NFL Media analyst Gil Brandt tabbed Driskel as one of the top senior quarterbacks in college football next season, though the injury opens up a possible fifth season of eligibility. With his strong arm and mobility, Driskel should prove a good fit for the spread offense Roper plans to install.
Already familiar with the SEC, with previous stops at Tennessee, Ole Miss and Kentucky, Roper helped direct a Blue Devils offense that has averaged 31 points per game in each of the last two seasons. If Roper can get anywhere near that sort of productivity from a core that should include Driskel, running back Mack Brown and wide receiver Quinton Dunbar to pair with the usually stout Florida defense (ranked 17th in the FBS in points allowed), Muschamp should be able to get off the hot seat.
Muschamp ousted offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis at the end of a disastrous campaign. The Gators finished the season with seven straight losses, including an embarrassing 26-20 loss to a Georgia Southern team that did not complete a pass, and snapped their streak of bowl-eligible seasons that dated back to 1980, triggering nation-wide ridicule.
And while some might question Roper's decision to leave the stability of Duke for the turmoil of Florida, it actually makes quite a bit of sense. If Roper can salvage the Florida offense and help Driskel reach his promise, it could propel him to a head coaching position. If he can't, the blame will inevitably fall on the radioactive Muschamp.