Developing depth behind Jeff Driskel

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?

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC


  1. I think UF needs to develop a guy to take the job. I don’t believe a word of the talk about Jeff Driskel getting better. I hope I’m proved wrong, but I don’t see UF getting better on offense until a good quarterback shows up. I haven’t seen one since Tebow. I don’t care what they did in high school either. Brantley was the Gatorade Player of the Year, just like Grier, and he was awful. I hope Driskel shuts me up this year, but I don’t think you can teach somebody the qualities he lacks to become a good quarterback. I still think it’s amazing that anyone thinks Jeff Driskel going down hurt UF’s chances last year. He wasn’t good when he played, why was he going to be good later?

  2. Dang snowprint, you need to change your name to Dr. Kevorkian as negative as you are on most of your posts. Your comments about Driskel & Brantley are just plain silly and not really fact based. Brantley was a pure pro style pocket passer only that was recruited to run Urban’s spread offense and then had to learn a pro offense in Muschamp’s first year on a team that was left with little talent and a lot of thugs thanks to Urban. Urban knew all along that he was not suited for the spread offense, but he was a legacy kid and it would look good in the recruiting rankings. They all thought Cam Newton was going to succeed Tebow not Brantley, but we all know how that turned out. Driskel on the other hand is just the opposite as he was recruited to run Urban’s spread as the #1 duel…I repeat……duel threat QB in the nation. Muschamp’s mistake was trying to run an Alabama pro style offense with a QB who was more suited for a spread offense. It was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I suspect you will see a much better Jeff Driskel this season running what he should have been running all along. I believe he will have a breakout year in this offense. Heck, just his running ability alone will be a match up nightmare for opposing defenses. Picture a Tim Tebow type QB in terms of size, but much faster at 4.56 in the forty and a better pure passer in terms of being able to really spin it as they say..

  3. Gosdcgator, I believe the same thing that Kurt Roper does. He said that a good player will succeed in any kind of system. Brantley was a bad player, it’s not the system. Maybe you are right about Driskel, but we have seen him in the spread, it was in the Sugar Bowl. I would not compare Driskel to Tebow in any facet of the game. One example comes to mind, there are too many to list, that happened at Miami last year. When the gators went for it on fourth and inches, Driskel could not even convert that. For someone as big as Driskel, he is not a tough runner and he goes down very easily when someone touches him in the pocket, with the added bonus of coughing up the ball. Like I said, I hope you are right and I am wrong, but I’ve seen no indication that Driskel has any of the qualities of a good quarterback, and no coach can turn a bad player into a good one.