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Veteran play-caller Kurt Roper is Florida's new offensive coordinator after six seasons at Duke.

Thursday December 26, 2013Muschamp Hires Roper as Gators' New Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach

Veteran play-caller Kurt Roper is Florida's new offensive coordinator after six seasons at Duke.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Kurt Roper was one of five finalists this season for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach.

Gators coach Will Muschamp and Florida fans would like nothing more than for Roper to repeat as a finalist in 2014.

Muschamp made it official Thursday morning, announcing he has hired Roper as the Gators' new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

"I'm excited to have Coach Roper join our staff," Muschamp said. "He has a diverse, up-tempo background on offense and does a good job of adapting to what the players do best. The most important thing though is he has always remained balanced.

"He has had success calling plays in the SEC and has tutored three NFL quarterbacks. He has had players produce at every offensive position and he is one of the most well-respected coaches in the country."

Roper has spent the last six years as offensive coordinator at Duke under Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe, a longtime mentor. Roper has worked with Cutcliffe every season but one since 1996 when he joined Tennessee's staff as a graduate assistant and Cutcliffe was the Vols' offensive coordinator.

Kurt Roper

Roper later served as Cutcliffe's offensive coordinator at Ole Miss and followed him to Duke in 2008 when Cutcliffe took over one of the country's weakest programs. The Blue Devils won a school-record 10 games this season and face Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Tuesday.

"Kurt Roper and I have been together a long time," Cutcliffe said when he hired Roper at Duke. "He was hand-picked by me when I went to Ole Miss to be the quarterbacks coach. You know you're always supposed to hire people that are smarter than you are and Kurt qualifies there. I think he's one of the better minds in college football. The reason he is an offensive coordinator now is that he has an unbelievable understanding of protection, the running game and the passing game."

Roper grew up the son of a coach -- his father Bobby was an assistant at Tennessee in the late 1970s -- and he played quarterback and defensive back at Rice prior to embarking on a coaching career.

Roper's work at Ole Miss as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator helped establish him as an up-and-coming coach in the SEC. At Ole Miss he coached Eli Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft who set 47 school records during his time with the Rebels.

The Rebels' offense produced with Manning and later Romero Miller at quarterback as Ole Miss went 44-29 in the six seasons Roper was there with Cutcliffe.

Between his stints at Ole Miss and Duke, Roper returned to Tennessee with Cutcliffe for two seasons and played a pivotal role in the development of Vols running back Arian Foster, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2007.

Roper's offenses tend to produce big seasons from the skill positions.

Roper has guided three quarterbacks to 3,000-yard passing seasons (five total 3,000-yard seasons) and in his six seasons at Duke Roper's offenses produced four 1,000-yard receivers and three 3,000-yard passers.

Roper inherits a UF offense with quarterback Jeff Driskel returning after playing only three games last season. Several quarterbacks have prospered under Roper's tutelage besides two-time Super Bowl winner Manning.

Both starting quarterbacks to graduate in Roper's time with the Blue Devils -- Thaddeus Lewis and Sean Renfree – have gone on to the NFL.

In 2012, Roper directed the Duke offense to a school single-season record 410 points and 31.5 points per game, marking the fifth-highest average in school history.

In 2013, the Blue Devils ranked 69th nationally in total offense and set a school record for total touchdowns (54), the first time the Blue Devils have scored 20 or more touchdowns both rushing and passing in the same season.

Roper's diversified offense played a key role as Duke's success this season.

Duke averaged 31.6 points per game -- totaling an average of 234.4 passing yards and 173.7 rushing yards per game despite starting quarterback Anthony Boone missing three games with an injury. In Boone's absence, Roper turned to reserve Brandon Connette and rotated the two regularly when both were healthy.

Muschamp met with Roper earlier in the week and tabbed him Thursday to replace Brent Pease, Florida's offensive coordinator the past two seasons.

The Gators averaged 316.7 yards per game in 2013 to finish ranked 112th nationally on the way to a 4-8 record.

Muschamp and Gators receivers coach Joker Phillips are familiar with Roper's credentials. Muschamp faced Roper's Ole Miss offense when he was defensive coordinator at LSU and Auburn, and Phillips was Kentucky's offensive coordinator in 2005 when Roper was the Wildcats' quarterbacks coach.

 

Personal Information

Hometown: Ames, Iowa

Education: 1995 – Bachelor’s Degree from Rice University; 1998 – Master’s Degree from the University of Tennessee

Family: He and his wife, Britt, have one daughter, Reese, and one son, Luke

 

Coaching Experience

2013

Duke (Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)

2008-12

Duke (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)

2006-07

Tennessee (Running Backs)

2005

Kentucky (Quarterbacks)

2002-04

Ole Miss (Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks)

1998-2001

Ole Miss (Quarterbacks)

1996-98

Tennessee (Graduate Assistant, Defense & Special Teams)

 

Bowl Games as a Coach

1997

Florida Citrus

1998

Orange

1998

Independence

1999

Independence

2000

Music City

2002

Independence

2004

Cotton

2007

Outback

2008

Outback

2012

Belk

2013

Chick-fil-A

 

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