Time heals all wounds, of this I promise you.
The sting of the 2013 football season has yet to fade away and will likely remain an open wound until the Gators kickoff the 2014 campaign against Idaho.
With no bowl game to look forward to or opponent to preview, we’ll look inward to the roster and breakdown what the Gators will look like heading into spring practice. Which players are holding steady, who’s moving up/down the depth chart, who’s buried behind other players and some potential transfers that we’re hearing about along the way.
Today, we kick it off with, what else, quarterback.
The 2013 season was a disaster at this position. Jeff Driskel’s injury drastically changed what the Florida offense could have been. That’s not a shot at Tyler Murphy, who played well considering the circumstance, but more of a nod to how Murphy’s was utilized due to the lack of experience and depth behind him.
Holding Steady: Jeff Driskel, Tyler Murphy
2013 Stats: 42-61, 477 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, 3 Total TD
Driskel played less than a quarter of the season before a broken fibula sidelined him for the year. A medical hardship waiver is an option for Driskel, who will return to Florida and the starting role — despite Muschamp calling the situation an open competition.
Strengths: Driskel’s biggest strength is his mobility. He is a big, bruising runner with surprising speed and agility for his size. Driskel’s skillset is not and never will be a fit for the offense that Muschamp has run in the past and a move to a more up-tempo, spread out offense would better utilize Driskel’s strengths.
Weaknesses: Driskel’s biggest weakness goes hand-in-hand with his biggest strength. It’s a tough label to put on a kid but Driskel is injury prone. There’s no way around it. He’s been at Florida three seasons and missed time each year with various injuries.
2013 Stats: 112-185, 1,216 yards, 6 TD, 5 INT, 9 Total TD
A career backup, Murphy played well for the first month or so after being thrust into the starting lineup. A shoulder injury that he suffered drastically affected his ability to affectively execute the offense. Murphy played well against the likes of Kentucky and Tennessee but wore down in the teeth of the true SEC schedule. Assuming he stays
Strengths: Murphy’s biggest strength is his mobility and moxy. A smaller player than Driskel, Murphy is a different kind of runner — more elusive and quicker — than his counterpart. Murphy also showed some gull and moxy, making tough throws and taking the kinds of chances with his arm that fans wished Driskel would take.
Weaknesses: Murphy’s biggest weakness is his accuracy. He was fairly accurate before his shoulder injury but often sailed passes high. Murphy needs to work on delivering his passes and hitting his receivers in stride to give them a chance to make a play for him after the catch.
Moving Up: Will Grier, Max Staver
2013 Stats: Redshirt
Despite the injuries to Florida’s starting and backup quarterbacks, the coaching staff stood by their desire to redshirt Staver.
Strengths: Staver has a live arm and a very quick release. He’s a tall quarterback who could fit well if Florida decides to stick to more of a pro-style system but also has enough mobility to fit into a spread offense. He’s no burner but has sneaky speed for a player of his stature.
Weaknesses: Staver has a big arm and a gunslinger mindset. Watching his high school film, he shows a tendency to try and fit passes into small windows rather than using his legs to make a play. He needs to work on his accuracy but that will come with time as he becomes more familiar with the system and the speed of the SEC game.
2013 Stats (According to Max Preps): 314-446, 4,989 yards, 77 TD, 11 INT, 115 carries, 1,251 yards, 13 TD
Grier is a dual-threat quarterback who will arrive on campus early this spring and already has Gator Nation buzzing and hopeful for the future. He’s spent the past three seasons assaulting the national high school passing record books while winning three-straight state championships as the quarterback of Davidson Day in North Carolina. Grier finished with 14,565 passing yards and 195 touchdowns in his high school career, adding 31 more rushing scores to put his touchdown total well over 200.
Strengths: Grier plays some pretty bad competition in high school but he dominates that competition and that’s all you can ask of an elite quarterback. Grier finished second in the Elite 11 this summer where he showed accuracy, the ability to throw on the run and mental toughness through a gauntlet of physical and mental tasks that were thrown his way.
Weaknesses: Size. Grier needs to get bigger and it will take him some time to get used to the speed of the game in the SEC. Both of these factors will likely result in Grier using a redshirt his first season on campus
Moving Down: Skyler Mornhinweg
2013 Stats: 44-63, 344 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Mornhinweg was thrown into an impossible position in 2013. As much as coaches say that you prepare every player as if they are going to play that week, it’s impossible. Mornhinweg did the best he could with his skill set and after an offseason where the majority of the reps were not his.
Strengths: For the most part, Mornhinweg was accurate and efficient in what he was asked to
Weaknesses: Mornhinweg doesn’t have the arm strength to make all the throws necessary on the football field.
Buried on the depth chart: Jacob Guy, Chris Wilkes, Ryan McGriff
A former professional baseball player, Wilkes spent his first year on campus taking in the view from the sideline. Wilkes has a long way to go to get back into football shape and he doesn’t appear to be a viable option with the players that Florida has ahead of him on the roster.
Jacob Guy & Ryan McGriff
Both Guy and McGriff are at Florida for depth purposes. Nether if them are scheduled to play this season and will likely end their careers without playing any significant snaps.