Despite previous indications that Florida could make a significant change to its offensive structure amid other staff shakeups this offseason, coach Billy Napier has confirmed he will continue to have an active hand on that side of the ball.
"Yeah, I do," Napier said on the Gator Tales podcast when asked if he wants to retain play-calling duties. "I think that big-picture wise, we're taking the group of people that we have and we're trying to develop some people, groom some people. We've done a ton of work in the offseason to kind of evaluate that in terms of what that looks like.
"I think down the stretch, we played pretty good offense. We created a bunch of explosive plays. We scored points. I think we've got a quarterback that's returning in the same system. I think ultimately for me it's about all these other areas being taken care of so that I can focus, do my best for the team in that regard."
Florida already shares scheming and game-planning duties between a few coaches. Rob Sale is nominally the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach and, as such, he has a heavy hand in how the run game plays out. Tight ends coach Russ Callaway has a background as Stamford's offensive coordinator and will help develop Florida's passing attack.
Napier is actively trying to take some responsibilities off his plate to alleviate the offensive burden, which could streamline the process.
"I think we're gonna hand off some tasks on offense," Napier said. "I think we've got a good group of offensive coaches there that we're fortunate to have the same group coming back. If you look back at our time at Louisiana, we had the same offensive group my entire time until the last year. It's good to have the same group of coaches."
Offense built momentum
Florida's poor finish to the 2023 season certainly clouded the perception around the program, but the Gators offense did play well down the stretch. After scoring an average of 13.7 points in its first three games against power conference opposition -- and posting a 22-point dud at home against Charlotte -- Florida passed the 30-point mark in five of its last seven games.
Florida was galvanized by the re-emergence of veteran quarterback Graham Mertz, who quietly enjoyed the best season of his lengthy career. He threw for 2,903 yards and 20 touchdowns to just three interceptions and 14 of his touchdowns came during Florida's offensive uptick over the last seven games.
Mertz is back for his sixth season of eligibility. That means Florida should be able to build off the momentum he established during that scorching-hot close to the 2023 campaign. The Gators have some holes to plug on an offensive line that struggled at times last season, but there is enough offensive talent surrounding Mertz -- including stellar young wide receiver Eugene Wilson III -- to expect at least some progress under Napier.