Heading into his second season as the coach of the Florida Gators, Will Muschamp has several questions facing his program.
How will first-year offensive coordinator Brent Pease change the Gators’ offense?
Which of Florida’s two young quarterbacks will be under center when the team begins the season at home against Bowling Green on Sept. 1?
During his time at Southeastern Conference Media Days in Hoover, Ala., he offered some insight into the two most pressing questions his offense will face beginning the season.
Perhaps the most intriguing question is the ongoing quarterback battle between sophomores Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett.
After John Brantley went down with an injury in Florida’s fifth game of the season in 2011, the Gators looked to Driskel and Brissett to be playmakers. However, both struggled through Florida’s toughest portion of the schedule.
For Muschamp, losing Brantley and depending on the freshman duo really hurt the team last year.
“When we lost him [Brantley], we lost a lot of confidence offensively,” he said. “That really permeates and effects your entire football team when that happens.”
This season, Muschamp expects a renewed confidence in the quarterback position — no matter who is taking the snaps.
Maintaining the status quo of not projecting a starter for the season, he spoke about how even Driskel and Brissett are at this point in their progression.
“Both guys are very talented. Both guys are certainly qualified for the position,” he said. “I think if you saw our spring game, you saw what I saw for 14 practices — two guys that are very even in their competition.”
Moving forward, Muschamp said to expect much of the same.
“They’re even going into fall camp,” he said. “They will get equal reps.”
He added he would like to have a starter named before the first game, but there is not a set date he will make a decision by.
That mean Florida could use both quarterbacks early in the season.
Because Driskel and Brissett have similar sets of skills, Muschamp and Pease can establish one offensive system that fits both quarterbacks. An offense predicated on a smash-mouth, downhill run game, along with a lot of play-action and bootleg passing.
Muschamp said the team was forced to stretch the ball outside on runs last year because of the size of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. This season, with Mike Gillislee expected to get the lion’s share of touches out of the backfield, Florida will look to feature a tougher interior run game.
This style of play is something that suits Pease. While questions abound whether his Boise State success will translate to the SEC, the formula has proven to be effective.
Many people look at Boise as the team that beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl with trickery and deception.
However, Peace developed an offensive system in Boise predicated on hard-nosed running and a passing game that moved the quarterback around the pocket.
That offensive system has done pretty well the last few years at programs such as Alabama and LSU, who run similar styles.
“Our new offensive coordinator brings a north-south, physical run game Florida hasn’t had in a long time,” Gillislee said.
Given the new personnel and coaching, Florida’s offense is sure to be different in a number of ways.
For Muschamp, there is one critical difference he wants to see from Year 1 to Year 2:
“We better score some more points.”