Kurt Roper already had worked at five SEC schools, and it didn’t take him very long to decide he wanted to work at his sixth.
“This was a very easy decision,” said the 43-year-old Roper, who will be South Carolina’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Will Muschamp. “I have always been envious of the cars driving around with the Palmetto tree on the back, and I’ve always wanted to put one of those on my car, so I’m excited about living here.”
Roper was an offensive analyst for the Cleveland Browns last year after serving as the offensive coordinator at Florida and Duke for the previous seven seasons. He also has served stints at Tennessee, Kentucky and Ole Miss.
“We’re not going to be identical to what we did at Duke or at Florida, but we’re going to have a lot of those characteristics,” Roper said. “We know what we know.”
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The Gamecocks’ offense will try to control the tempo when it has the ball, but will not be a slave to it.
“It really gets down to a simple process: our responsibility is to score more points than our opponent,” he said. “I think any time you can create one-on-one tackles in space, that’s going to equal more yards and more explosive plays.”
Job one for Roper will be picking a quarterback, and the rest of the offense will be based off that decision, he said.
“I think in today’s world, you have to be able to throw the football at a high level,” he said. “You’re going to run into third down situations where you have to throw it. You’re going to be in two-minute situations where you have to throw it, and you’re going to be in red zone situations where you have to throw it. I think you can’t sacrifice the ability to throw the football. What we want is the best passer we can find who can move his feet.”
Roper, who played for three seasons as a quarterback and defensive back at Rice, worked for Muschamp at Florida in 2014. The Gators were 12th in the SEC that season in total yards (367.7 per game), and Muschamp was fired during the season, but Muschamp still came away with a favorable impression of Roper.
“I thought he came into our situation at Florida and did the best job he could,” Muschamp said. “I think it’s important to be on the same page philosophically. We are going to be fast, we are going to be physical and we are going to be balanced.”
Roper began following the job search at South Carolina as soon as Steve Spurrier retired, leaning on former USC quarterback Connor Shaw (who is now with the Browns) for information.
“You never know what’s going to happen, or who’s going to get the job and if you have any relationship with that guy,” Roper said. “Sometimes you just get lucky, and I couldn’t get more excited about being here.
“I think Will is a great head coach, not a good head coach, a great head coach to work for, not just on game day but every day. I know what Sunday-Saturday is like and when you know that as a coach, you can go create plans to be as good as you can possibly be.”