GAINESVILLE — 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.
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 play the game with some tempo and speed and you can play it in space, you can create as many 1-on-1 tackle opportunities as you can,” said Roper, who left Duke to join Muschamp.
“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.”
The Gators were decimated by injuries last year, losing quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Matt Jones, receiver Andre Debose and right tackle Chaz Green either before or early in the season.
Driskel broke his right leg against Tennessee in September and should be ready for spring practice in March. Debose will be non-contact in spring while continuing to recover from reconstructive knee surgery. Green (torn labrum) should be full speed. Jones, meanwhile, might be sidelined a while.
Muschamp said Jones had a completely torn meniscus in his left knee and will need a second surgery to repair the damage.