Former Gator All-American quarterback John Reaves answers your questions about all things football, a feature that will be a regular part of Gator Country Fridays.
I heard that you were a recruiter that always seemed to get his man. What did you do to secure those players? — Rockledge Gator
I didn’t always get my recruit. i.e. Randall Godfrey.Recruiting is marketing, which I majored in at Florida. You have to develop a relationship with the administration, coaching staff and players (and their mentors/family) at a school over a period of time. i.e., Reggie McGrew. McGrew was a 5-star in the 8th grade, so I began to develop a relationship with his Father, Taylor McGrew, who was also the head football coach at Lafayette County High School in Mayo.
You have to be honest and consistent. Providing the information they need to make one of the most important decisions in their life. Of course it’s not hard to sell the University of Florida with the academics, facilities, tradition, etc!
Could you give us a breakdown of what the QB sees once he breaks out of the huddle? Where are his eyes as they walk to the line? What are they looking for in specific? What SHOULD they be looking for? — gator_nica
I had many good coaches in my time — Holland Aplin at Robinson High School in Tampa, Ray Graves and Fred Pancoast at Florida, Paul Brown and Bill Walsh with the Cincinnati Bengals. But none was better than the “Ball Coach,” Steve Spurrier. He was a great teacher.
He taught you defenses from day 1 — fronts, coverages, etc., and what the weaknesses were. There are certain run plays that are good vs. certain fronts and pass plays vs. certain coverages. The key is to get into the right play at the right time.
When you walk to the LOS you get a “Pre-snap” read of the front and/or coverage. Then you know if your play is good or not and if you should audible. That’s why you need to get to the LOS asap and the play caller needs to get the play into the QB.
If the front is no good vs. the run you have on you should audible. Runs usually aren’t good vs. 8 or 9 man fronts unless you outman the opponent.
You need to be in the right protection vs. blitzes or have hot reads. Everyone has to be on the same page. Communication is crucial.
There’s a lot to know if you’re going to be successful.
John, do you think most quarterbacks have a favorite receiver even if they try not to? — Robbers
I do think most QB’s have a favorite receiver, usually developed over time where a trust and bond develops. When that happens, the defense will almost always double team him so hopefully you have 3-4 WR’s and 2-3 RB’s and Y’s you can trust. Protection makes it all work.
You have to run routes and catch the ball! Carlos Alvarez was my favorite at Florida; Harold Jackson, then Harold Carmichael and Charley Young at Philadelphia; Charley Joiner and Isaac Curtis at Cincinnati; Ahmad Rashad at Minnesota; Kenny Burrough and Dave Caspar at Houston; and Eric Truvillion (ET) and Gary Anderson with the Tampa Bay Bandits!
How important is locker room chemistry? — 76Gator
Locker room chemistry is very important, not just in the locker room but everywhere else on a football team — classroom, training table, practice field and especially game day. If a team doesn’t have a common bond and cannot get along with each other then there are problems. Everyone has to accept their role and be a good teammate.
Can you go thru the details of why Murphy is doing so well? And have you had a chance to evaluate the back-ups? — MrB-Gator
Tyler Murphy is doing very well so far because of the skill set he brings to the table. Of course, a good O-line, good WRs, Y’s and backs are essential plus a good scheme. His poise, mechanics and decision making have been excellent so far. He throws a nice ball and can run. He’s smart and knows what he is doing.
The competition is getting progressively more difficult beginning with Arkansas, the team that has the most sacks in the SEC and then on to LSU, South Carolina and Georgia. It should be interesting.
I have not had a chance to evaluate the backup QB’s.
What do you think of Jeff Driskel as a quarterback? — Rockledge Gator
I am disappointed in Jeff Driscoll’s development so far. I’m sorry he is hurt, but when he went down he seemed to be making the same mistakes. His performance in the Miami game was like last year’s Georgia and Louisville games — too many turnovers in the green zone and too many pick sixes.
He’s a physical specimen, however, I think he’s confused and if the play called isn’t perfectly and the #1 choice on a pass isn’t open, he struggles.
We need him to get healthy and learn during his time down! He’s a Gator and we still love him.
Could you be successful today being the same type of QB that you were while at UF? And how have defenses changed in the last 30-40 years? — gatorcop
Yes, I believe I could be successful today as a QB. I was more a pocket passer like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning if you will but there is still room for us. For example, in 1985 with the Bandits I threw the ball 396 times and was only sacked 5 times. Why? Good O-line, scheme, WR’s and RB’s but I knew what I was doing. I took my steps and got rid of the ball on time: 1-2-3 progression, not open? Throw it away or scramble and either run or pass. Of course Steve Spurrier was my coach!!!
One thing I knew, the more game tape I watched and plays, the more I studied the better I performed. Sometimes I knew what defense they were in by the way they lined up in their huddle, because they would line up in such a way in order to get to their pre-snap alignment.
What are the things a QB looks for at once at the line that leads to calling an audible? — g8orbill
A QB should get a pre-snap read on the way to the LOS. Once there, if the play is not good vs. the front or coverage he should be mentally prepared to change the play and make sure his teammates hear the audible, giving everyone time to adjust. Wide receivers and backs may have to shift. The center might have to change the protection depending on the front. Everyone has to be set before the snap so there is no false start, illegal formation or procedure. If you have a shift or motion on then these players have to know and make their adjustments.
Thanks for asking the QB! Get those questions ready for next week!
John Reaves QB7
Editor’s Note: For a quarterback’s perspective on college or pro football, submit your questions to our premium BullGator Den forum by Wednesday of each week and John will answer them.