The rumors continue to spread that former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is being “vetted” in the search for the Florida Gators new head football coach. While several other programs from across the country are trying to fill their coaching vacancies, Kelly heading to Gainesville will be the largest splash hire of the coaching carousel.
In retrospect, the popularity of Kelly’s name surfacing to the top of the Gators’ coaching list isn’t solely because of his incredible collegiate coaching record (46-7), but his astounding ability to field formidable offenses. Gators fans across this nation are desperately hoping their new head coach can, “Make Florida Fun Again,” and Kelly should certainly provide that.
The creation of the Fun N’ Gun was established inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Since 1990, the expectations in Gainesville have been to blow out opponents out by multiple scores and fielding offenses that work like well-oiled machines. Unfortunately, since the departure of Urban Meyer and his high-flying spread attack, the Gators offenses have looked like a broken record each time they step on the field. The same boring, slow and inadequate play on offense has been displayed the last seven seasons.
With Kelly potentially becoming the next head coach, he will inherit a very talented roster on the offensive side, something the previous regime did not walk into. Below Armchair looks at the current, and potentially new, Gators and why they’ll fit the mold of Chip Kelly’s offense.
Heading into spring practice, Florida will likely have three viable options at the quarterback spot. This is pending on whether 4-star quarterback prospect Matt Corral stays firm with his commitment with the Gators, and Malik Zaire is granted another year of eligibility (missed the entire 2015 season due to injury).
In Kelly’s offenses, the prototypical quarterback has the talent and understanding of beating defensive opponents by the virtue of their arms and their legs. The performances fans have seen this season from Zaire and Feleipe Franks don’t have many Gators fans hopeful for the drastic turn around this offense needs. However, the developmental aspect from the previous staffs in transforming these quarterbacks has hindered their progressions. Bringing in experts on taking raw, unrecognizable talent to the premiere offensive ranks in college football could remodel these quarterbacks’ current play.
The Long Beach Poly prospect, Corral, is listed as a pro-style quarterback, but he has enough ability to run an offense that requires a running threat. With the proper development in the right offense, the quarterback play should quickly turn around.
This position unit is probably the most skilled and deep on the Gators football team. The emergence of freshman tailback Malik Davis has been inspiring to see this season. Davis eclipsed the 90-yard mark in five consecutive games before going down with a season-ending injury. With Lamical Perine and Adarius Lemons still on this roster, the ceiling for this unit hasn’t been reached. We haven’t seen the playmaking talent Lemons brings to the orange and blue quite yet, but he would be an explosive piece in a spread offense.
In the 2018 recruiting class, Florida has two running backs currently committed, Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement. Pierce provides the strength and speed to deliver the home-run ball from the backfield, but also possesses elite vision, allowing him to see holes most wouldn’t. He isn’t your typical spread style back, but he certainly provides a unique talent.
Clement fits the spread offense perfectly. The multi-position athlete has elusive speed and is extremely difficult to bring down once in the open field. Clement will most likely transition into the slot role of the Gators offense, utilized like Brandon Powell and Kadarius Toney.
Florida has several players listed on the roster that will bring an immediate impact to the offense. The team’s best pure receiver, Tyrie Cleveland, will allow the run game to open up with the secondary focusing on him. That is assuming Florida is receiving adequate play from their quarterback. Cleveland’s speed and route running ability allow him to create separation and be the team’s primary focus in the passing game.
Kadarius Toney is another athlete that will thrive in a Chip Kelly offense. His ankle-breaking moves on the outside make it virtually impossible for him to get tackled in open space. He has showcased some of that game-changing ability during his freshman year.
In the Gators current 2018 recruiting class, they have four receivers committed, highlighted by 4-star prospect Jacob Copeland. He also provides the threat of being able to take anything the distance once the ball is in his hands. Out of this class he will be the receiver expected to make a day one impact. With a new coaching staff coming in, every player has the capability of turning heads and earning early playing time.