The biggest question mark on the offensive side of the ball, the position that is asked about, debated and often maligned is still a question mark.
The first week of fall camp is officially in the books and the Florida Gators don’t have a starting quarterback.
Florida has held seven practices this fall and are still in the instillation phase of camp. The whole offense hasn’t been installed yet so, to Mullen it’s not the appropriate time to name a starter. Mullen did, however, answer a question Friday and give a rough timetable for when he’s like to turn that question into a declarative statement.
“We’ll have red zone install tomorrow, there’s still some stuff we haven’t installed,” he said. “To sit there and say, ‘hey we haven’t even put in the whole offense yet but the competition’s over’ for the starting job is tough. I don’t really want it to go into the game week. I’d love to get it done way before then.”
There are three real options to start at quarterback Returning starter, on and off again, Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and true freshman Emory Jones. Franks is the only one in the bunch with playing experience. He completed 54.6% (125-229) of his pass attempts last season with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. Trask missed last season with a foot injury. In his nine seasons as a head coach Mullen has never started a freshman quarterback unless forced into it due to injury.
There’s also an expectation level for playing quarterback. The three vying for the starting job understand that, they’ve played the position their whole lives and know that more will be expected from a quarterback than, say, an outside linebacker or running back. Playing quarterback at Florida, where three Heisman winning quarterback statues reside outside of the stadium is a different animal
“One of the things I keep harping on them on is that, is it’s a tough job, a tough responsibility to be the quarterback at the University of Florida. A lot comes with it and the expectations of what the program is all about and the guys that have come before you. Within our offense, we’re very much a quarterback-based offense, so they have a lot to do.”
Quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson echoed those statements as well. He played quarterback at Utah and knows just how much Dan Mullen expects from his quarterbacks.
“Dan is a great coach and he’s a great motivator and he understands exactly what it takes to be successful on this level. Obviously I don’t think there’s a guy around in terms of quarterback play that probably has as good of a résumé as he does coaching quarterbacks.”
Franks entered the fall as the presumed starter given his experience but Trask has shown signs that he can lead the offense. The Texas signal caller has bulked up this offseason and, while he’s no Vince Young when it comes to mobility, has been called a willing and able running threat by the coaching staff.
“He’s put himself in a position in terms of working with Coach Savage and getting his body ready to go and preparing in terms of him being ready to go from the jump,” Johnson said. “But obviously he has limited experience and limited playing reps. The whole key I talk about with the development of the quarterbacks, those guys are going to make mistakes. We have to be mature enough as a group to not make the same mistake twice.”
There won’t be a starting quarterback named this week but it is refreshing to hear that Mullen doesn’t plan to trot out two quarterbacks for the opening play of the season like one of his predecessors.