Before spring practice began, Gator Country took a look at the top eight position battles to keep an eye on during spring practice. Now that spring is over, we’ll take a look at how those position battles played out over the past couple weeks.
In part five of the eight part series, we take a look at who will back up Jeff Driskel at quarterback.
There’s another quarterback battle brewing in Gainesville. Like in 2012, there is uncertainty at the position and several players battled through spring practice to earn a spot on the depth chart. Unlike 2012, this quarterback battle isn’t for the starting job – Jeff Driskel has that locked up – rather for who will be the No. 2 guy behind Driskel.
Any mobile quarterback is going to have a higher risk of injury and Driskel has battled injuries in each of his first two seasons. If Driskel were to go down with an injury, who would replace him and just how confidant are the coaches in the guys behind him?
“Obviously Jeff is the guy that’s taken charge but behind him it’s Tyler and Skyler competing for the backup spot,” Muschamp said early in the spring. “I’ve talked to them and those guys have to step in. They’re going to get good reps and we’ll see who can compete. If they can’t, we have a young guy coming in, Max Staver, and we’ll have to assess the situation after the spring.”
When Jacoby Brissett decided to transfer in January, he took along with him the safety net behind Driskel. With no established players behind him, there is an emphasis on Driskel staying healthy while still being able to run the offense.
“Tyler Murphy and Skyler Mornhinweg haven’t had much time at all in game, but they did a good job. They’ve been competing, and they’ve been doing everything they can to get better during the spring and that’s really shown and I’m proud of those guys,” Driskel said. “But, I do need to this year, try to limit the shots that I’ve taken, and coach Muschamp and coach Pease have definitely put that into my head.”
When I think about Tyler Murphy’s time in Gainesville, I always go back to a 2011 game against Auburn.
Starter, John Brantley was injured two weeks prior and unavailable for the game. Driskel was coming off an ankle injury from that same game, so Jacoby Brissett was to make his second start in as many weeks.
The offense struggled in the first half, gaining a grand total of 118 yards in the first two quarters. With Brissett struggling and the status of Driskel’s ankle unknown, Muschamp was asked by the sideline reporter if we could expect to see Tyler Murphy in the second half. Muschamp’s answer was quick, concise and ended the interview, “No.”
Murphy has been an integral part of the scout team since he arrived at Florida. His mobility has helped the defense prepare for mobile quarterbacks in practice but in four years on campus, he has never taken a meaningful snap in a game.
The son of an NFL coach, Mornhinweg has spent much of his life in and around NFL locker rooms.
Mornhinweg choose UF over schools like Alabama, Tennessee, Penn State and Stanford.
He spent his freshman season redshirting and came into this spring ready to compete for the backup job.
Mornhinweg is an athletic quarterback with a quick delivery. His biggest challenge is his knowledge of the playbook. At times when we were at spring practice, Mornhinweg had to ask Brent Pease where to line guys up and who to motion.
You would like to see a guy who just spent the year redshirting have a better knowledge of the playbook. To Mornhinweg’s credit, he looked more comfortable in the offense during the Orange and Blue Debut.
At 6’6’’ 238 pounds, Staver is the quintessential pocket-passer. He has a strong arm, quick delivery and great pocket presence. While you wouldn’t consider Staver a dual-threat quarterback by any means, his footwork is good enough to buy time by moving around in the pocket.
Staver’s best quality is his arm. This kid can spin it.
Staver will arrive on campus this summer and if he can pick up the playbook quickly, should plant himself firmly in the battle for backup quarterback.
Wilkes was a surprise commitment following the Orange and Blue Debut. Wilkes will walk on this summer and despite being 23 years old, still has four years of eligibility left.
Wilkes signed with Ole Miss in 2008 but decided to try his hand playing professional baseball after being drafted in the 22nd round by the San Diego Padres. Wilkes made it as high as double-A baseball before deciding to give football another chance.
At 6’4” 235 pounds, Wilkes has great size for the position. His high school highlight tape shows a player with good accuracy and pretty good arm strength.
Wilkes will undoubtedly be rusty and might take some time to get back into football shape.
The depth behind Driskel will get a lot better with the addition of Wilkes and Staver in the summer but it doesn’t change the fact that the Gators don’t have a quarterback who has attempted a collegiate pass behind their starter.
The Gators are in big trouble right now if Driskel were to go down with an injury.
I think Max Staver is a player to keep a close eye on the rest of the offseason. Staver has all the physical tools to be a good player in the SEC and if he can pick up the playbook, the protections and all the intricacies of the offense, he could vault himself over Wilkes, Mornhinweg and Murphy on the depth chart.