Ask the quarterback

Each week former Gator All-American quarterback John Reaves answers your questions about football and the Florida Gators.

1.  In terms of an offense “clicking,” what percentage of that is based solely on QB play? 30% due to QB? 40%? As much as 50%? Assuming it’s a balanced offense in terms of run/pass. – Robbers 

It depends on what the percentage is based on quarterback play.  Against Arkansas we gained 240 yards passing and threw three TD passes but we only rushed for 115 yards. So you could say that the QB had a hand in 67% of the production.  But it’s a team sport.  You need a good O-line, good Backs & Receivers and a good QB.  As well as a good scheme and play calling.  It all goes hand in hand.  And without a good defense and special teams it’s hard to outscore everybody.

2.  Fast forward to next summer: You are the new QB coach at UF. You coached QB’s along with SOS who you have great appreciation for him as a QB coach. You learned a lot from SOS in developing QB’s. (A) How would you handle the two QB’s that enter summer assuming Jeff makes a full recovery and returns from his injury? He is talented. He lost his job due to an injury. His replacement did a very good job. (B) What would you do to improve Jeff as a QB?

(C) Do you think Jeff can make the changes to improve as a QB and challenge for the starting position?

(D) Would playing both of them be an option you would consider? — Rockledgegator

It depends on what happens the rest of the season, the off season conditioning program, spring practice and then the private summer workouts they go through by themselves.  Say we win the SEC East, go to a BCS Bowl and win it, then everything goes well in the offseason up to Fall practice.  It would be hard not to start practice in August without Tyler Murphy #1 on the depth chart.

I think Jeff can improve as a QB. For instance, in 1984 with the Tampa Bay Bandits I started the season and we went 3-0.  We lost the fourth game at Denver in the snow in overtime when I threw a pick six to lose it. The next week Coach (Steve) Spurrier started Wayne Peace and we lost to the Birmingham Stallions.  The following week we trailed the Philadelphia Stars 21-0 after the first quarter and Coach Spurrier put me back in.  I learned a new perspective from the bench, one – most importantly – that we had a great tight end named Marvin Harvey that I had not been utilizing.  I saw him catch passes from Wayne and said, “Wow, he’s good!” When I got back in he became one of my favorite receivers and we went on to win nine straight games.  I was much better after having been benched, but I was fortunate to get another chance.

I don’t like to alternate QB’s because I think it limits the starter from getting in a rhythm.  We could use Jeff in the Wildcat as a change of pace if he doesn’t win the job back.

3. How do you see the development of Tyler Murphy going forward? How about the backups fro this spring? How would you handle the competition? — MrB-Gator. 

Tyler is developing quite rapidly. He is still a little late on the corner throws and high on the 15-20 yard crosses but he has made some excellent throws. The touchdown pass he threw in the two-minute drill to Solomon Patton was an excellent throw. He stepped up in the pocket and put it perfectly on Patton’s outside number with touch and zip. All Solomon had to do was turn it out and up to turn it into a spectacular YAC touchdown.

The offseason program and spring practice is the time for the backups to get better.  If they don’t get playing time then it has to be done in practice, but depth is certainly as issue with no experience now with backup QB’s.

4.  Let´s say Murphy tosses an early INT at LSU and his confidence goes out the window. What does the OC or coach need to do to pump up his confidence? Can an early TO completely derail a QB´s ability to lead the team to victory? — gator_nica 

Should Tyler make an early mistake such as an interception or fumble that leads to LSU points. This is reckoning time. You have to be mentally tough and have amnesia when it comes to mistakes.  If you dwell on them you may be too tentative and not good for awhile so you have to let it go. The makeup that Tyler has shown so far does not indicate that he will lose his poise. Surely somewhere along the line mistakes will be made. That’s football. The good teams and good players overcome their mistakes.

5.  What improvement have you seen in Tyler Murphy’s game since the Tennessee game? — klmbs

I have witnessed a steady progression in Tyler’s game from the Tennessee game onward.  He continues to impress with his field generalship, footwork, ball handling, passing, scrambling and running. He’s showing outstanding leadership and the whole team and coaching staff is responding to him. I think he’s also become quite a favorite with the Gator Nation.

6.  Two questions:  

#1. How would you rank the following attributes of a successful qb?:

a. Football IQ (reading defenses, calling plays at the line)

b. Football instincts (pocket presence, determining whether to throw or run, etc.)

c. Arm strength

d. Running ability 

#2. We seem to never throw the ball up for our wr’s to make a play or make back shoulder throws to covered receivers. It seems our qb’s are more about waiting on wr’s to be open than throwing to a spot. Is this based more on our qb’s abilities or the offense that is being called. — njgator11

I think you have it in good order.

1. Football IQ reading defenses and being prepared to change play at line of scrimmage; getting a pre-snap read on the way to the line of scrimmage.

2.  Football instincts such as pocket presence, moving in the pocket, making accurate throws, ball security and picking the right time to throw or take off running.  Sometimes it’s better to throw it away and punt. You have to remember that we have a good defense, so sometimes you have to turn it over to the defense and get to the sideline to start working on the next series.

3.  Arm strength. You have to be able to make all the throws: screens, short passes, intermediate and deep. Timing is critical.  Know what you’re doing and take your steps and throw it!!!

4.  Running ability. What a bonus this is to have a QB that can run.  Tyler and Jeff are excellent runners.

Question 2: We haven’t thrown many deep balls and that’s something you have to work on. I used to throw posts over the wide receivers’ head behind him until Coach Spurrier said aim one yard inside the opposite hash.  When I did that I started to hit them.

I don’t recall Tyler throwing a fade route yet vs. bump and run. That’s when you have to zip it in at a trajectory just over the defender’s head to your wide receiver. If they cornerback is overplaying then the back shoulder fade comes in.  It takes a lot of work and timing.  Hopefully they’re dedicating practice time to it.

Remember this:  NCAA rules only allow 20 hours a week for meetings, weight lifting, practice time and playing the game, so time is of the essence!!!

Thanks for your questions.  Go Gators … Beat LSU.


Next articleThoughts of the day: October 11, 2013
John Reaves
When he finished his University of Florida playing career in 1971, John Reaves was the most prolific passer in the history of college football. He threw for 7,581 yards in his UF career but he's best remembered for the 70-yard touchdown pass to Carlos Alvarez on the third play of his collegiate career against Houston in 1969. A first team All-American, Reaves played in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Bucs, plus three years in the USFL with the Tampa Bay Bandits. He was the quarterback coach at Florida from 1990-94. He's also the father-in-law of former USC coach Lane Kiffin.