ATLANTA — He knew the question would come at SEC Media Days and he was honestly surprised that it wasn’t the first question posed to him Tuesday at the College Football Hall of Fame.
Who is going to start at quarterback for the Florida Gators?
Dan Mullen was ready and jokingly told reporters; “I would love to name one today.”
Get in line, we all wish you would name one today.
To be fair Mullen has only had 15 practices to watch his quarterbacks work so patience is needed but he won’t have a lot of time when he’s actually able to get back to work with the team in August.
That creates a bind for the first year Gator coach. He’s had success at every stop he’s been to as a quarterback coach. He’s shown the ability to tailor his offensive strategy and scheme to fit his players but if he doesn’t have a quarterback when and how can he start to shape that offense?
“Tim Tebow, when he was my quarterback, we built the offense around his strengths and things that he did well,” Mullen said when asked about his strategy. “That’s not to say he’s going to be a great quarterback in every system, and the same with Nick Fitzgerald. That’s what we did with Nick is coach him, develop him, see certain traits that he had while we recruited him and then build around his strengths.”
Mullen and his staff continue to pour over practice tape to try and develop strategies as to how they can do just that — tailor an offensive scheme to put their players in the best possible positions but it all starts with the quarterback.
Mullen made it abundantly clear to his passers after the Orange and Blue game that their future was in their own hands. In his mind the biggest jump quarterbacks will make is in the summer when they’re putting in work that nobody sees.
“Alex Smith, in the summer of 2004, went from being a solid quarterback to being one of the best in the country,” he said. “Dak Prescott went from being a guy that was a rotational guy to being a big time quarterback, then the next summer went from being a big time college quarterback to being one of the best players in college football. It happened between spring and the start of fall camp.”
Mullen has never started a freshman quarterback but freshman Emory Jones will have an opportunity to change that statistic. Feleipe Franks returns with the most experience and Kyle Trask is pushing for playing time as well. Those are the three realistic options.
There’s talent in the room but he has been limited in how much he can work with them. That’s’ why he’s as eager as the rest of us to see what each of the quarterbacks looks like when they come back from their summer break.
Mullen would love to have a starting quarterback named because he knows how beneficial it will be for the offense and in turn the entire team. He would love to be spending time now scheming around one guy instead of in limbo but he’s betting on himself. It’s a bet that has paid off over and over again, so when it comes to quarterback he’s asking fans to bet on him picking the right guy when the right time comes.