Interesting developments continue to emerge inside Florida football. On Tuesday, the Gators made two surprising assistant coaching hires. Former Stanford defensive ends coach D.J. Durkin is now the Gators' linebackers coach and special teams assistant. Stan Drayton is back as the Gators' running backs coach. (Former UF assistant Kenny Carter was hired by Charlie Strong at Louisville on Tuesday).
A quick analyzation of these hires tells me three things: 1. Florida coach Urban Meyer appears to be making good on his promise to begin delegating some his responsibilities within the team. 2. The Florida Gators might be preparing to run some variant of the pro-style offense in 2010. 3. Meyer doesn't hold a grudge.
Let me explain...
Durkin, a Bowling Green alum, has ties to Meyer and is a rising star in the coaching profession. He didn't play for Meyer at Bowling Green but was a graduate assistant with the Falcons from 2001-2002. From there, Durkin coached at Notre Dame and then Stanford. Durkin will coach linebackers for the Gators, which means Meyer holds Durkin in high regard. Former UF defensive coordinator Charlie Strong coached linebackers at Florida for a long time and replacing Strong will be one of UF's biggest challenges in 2010. Durkin will also help Meyer coach special teams, allowing Meyer to reduce his workload and focus on other aspects of the football team (most likely offense).
Going to make a bold prediction here. The Florida Gators will run some variant of the pro-style offense in 2010. Why? Well, one of Meyer's most important coaching philosophies is building his offense around his talent. The Gators will have a strong-armed quarterback in 2010 (John Brantley) and plenty of talented running back (Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, Mike Gillislee and Emmanuel Moody). Brantley is more mobile than people give him credit for but he's not going to lead the Gators in carries like Tim Tebow.
UF quarterback coach Scot Loeffler is a pro-style specialist. He's an excellent coach and his expertise will prove valuable this offseason. Hiring Drayton as the Gators running backs coach offers more evidence that Meyer is strongly considering shelving some of the aspects of his spread-option offense next season in favor of a more traditional approach. Drayton, who coached running backs at UF from 2005-2007, left Gainesville in 2008 for Tennessee. On his way out, Drayton said he wanted to coach at a school that utilized running backs in a traditional fashion. (Apparently Meyer isn't holding that comment against Drayton. Good for Meyer. Forgiveness is good for the heart.) Drayton landed at Syracuse after former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer was forced out. He has a strong reputation as a recruiter and is familiar with South Florida.
Florida still hasn't named a defensive coordinator. This leads me to believe that UF is either going to name Chuck Heater the DC very soon or Meyer was waiting for a few bowl games to end so he could interview some more candidates. Texas Christian, Boise State, Texas and Alabama each had quality defenses in 2009.