Kurt Roper was brought in to resurrect a Florida offense that had gone from downright scary with likes of Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Riley Cooper and others, to just down right offensive the past four seasons.
Roper’s first job is to help Jeff Driskel take the next step in his development as a quarterback and his ability to work with quarterbacks in the past are a big reason he was able to land the job after spending the past six years in Durham with the Duke Blue Devils.
“His development at the quarterback position speaks for itself. Eli Manning, Thaddeus Lewis, Sean Renfro, all guys playing in the National Football League, been a play caller for 11 years,” Muschamp said. “When I called Coach Cutcliffe about Kurt, he wasn’t happy I was calling about Kurt, but he certainly endorsed him as a football coach and a man.”
However, Will Muschamp and Gators fans learned a tough lesson last year when Driskel went down with a season-ending injury. Behind him were exactly zero starts and the position and Florida paid dearly for that inexperience at quarterback.
So while getting Driskel ready to go may be the first priority, developing the depth behind him closely follows it.
“We need to develop a backup behind him,” Muschamp said. “I don’t know who that would be right now. But I would plan on playing that person early in the season, talking about the first game, just like we did with Jeff his freshman year when John Brantley was our quarterback because of the lack of experience behind Jeff. We need to develop that guy and be ready for a situation where we might have to play him.”
The experience behind Driskel is limited to Skyler Mornhinweg’s 63 passing attempts over the last three games of the 2013 season. Mornhinweg is the most experienced quarterback but he probably won’t be the first off the bench after Driskel.
The future of the position sits with Will Grier and Treon Harris — two freshmen.
Grier was the highly touted prospect and committed to Florida in December of 2012. Grier remained steadfast in that commitment despite the struggles on the field in 2013 and his loyalty has made him a celebrity among Gator fans. Well, that and the fact that his younger brother Nash Grier is Internet famous and has more Twitter and Vine followers that Justin Beiber, which spills over to Will.
Grier is a good fit for Roper’s offense. He has a strong, accurate arm with a quick release. He’s athletic and can be a threat with his legs as well.
Up until February, it appeared that Grier was the heir apparent at quarterback but the signing of Treon Harris complicates things.
Harris spent the last four years at perennial powerhouse Booker T. Washington in Miami, Florida. Harris led the Tornadoes to back-to-back state championships and 26-consecutive wins.
Harris is athletic and he can spin it better than most fans know. He’s a prime candidate to fill the backup job and will compete with Grier for it when fall camp opens up August 3.
Grier got a head start, enrolling early this past spring, but he would benefit from a redshirt year. Harris is more than capable of running Roper’s offense and having one of the two freshmen passers redshirt also creates separation between them and builds depth for the future.
Both freshmen will have a chance to make an impact this season. Maybe one will redshirt, maybe the coaching staff will choose to play both of them behind Driskel to get them experience.
There are a ton of questions that surround the quarterback position in total but there is one thing we do know; Driskel will start on August 3 against Idaho and every week following that assuming he’s healthy.
Who will come off the bench behind him when Florida gets a lead?