Mullen: QB call won’t be game-time decision

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UF defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, left, and head coach Dan Mullen watch players during practice at the Indoor Practice Facility on campus last year. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Florida coach Dan Mullen has a feeling who his starting quarterback is going to be, but he’s still not quite ready to make that final decision, he said Thursday.

Mullen planned to meet with quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson after Thursday night’s practice, the final practice of preseason camp, and then work toward naming a starter for the Sept. 1 opener.

“Brian and I are going to look at it, and really discuss every part of it and see. There are a lot of little factors going into it.

“I’m not going to hide that (decision). That’s not like a secret that we are holding out on. We are wrapping up training camp.

“We’re going to evaluate who gives us the best opportunity to win games. We’ll go in to the game week knowing who our starter is going to be. That’s not going to be a game-time decision deal.”

Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and true freshman Emory Jones have been competing for the job since the start of spring practice, with apparently no significant separation at the top between Franks and Trask.

Franks and Trask both said earlier this week their focus was on getting better every day instead of worrying about who’s going to be named the starter.

After struggling in the first fall scrimmage, all three quarterbacks graded out as a champion in last Sunday’s scrimmage. All effectively moved the offense at times and produced some big plays.

“They’ve made a lot of progress understanding the offense,” Mullen said. “They’ve made a lot of progress within their personalities, learning how to deal with Brian and I on a daily basis.

“Just having some personality, some fun with it, understanding what’s important for the team and the leadership aspect of things. So I think they’ve come along really well that way.”

In the first scrimmage where the quarterbacks struggled, the offensive playbook was immense, with Mullen having the QBs handle a wide spectrum of plays and formations.

Since then, the offense has been somewhat simplified, and that will continue as the Gators work toward the opener.

“Just their understanding,” Mullen said. “We’ve been coming in with a giant package. Now we get into a game week and this is all we’re going to hear. I want to see how they respond to that.

“We’ve gone from here (hands wide) to here (hands closer) for this week’s plan. How they transition to that will be interesting to see.

“We’ll figure it out. It’s about winning games this year.”

Mullen was asked where his confidence level is with the quarterbacks.

He responded by saying he’s comfortable with the quarterbacks — and everyone else on the team as the Gators start to focus on the opener.

“I’m comfortable with all our guys,” he said. “That’s who we’ve got. I hope they’re comfortable with me because that’s all we got. We’re all in this together as a team.

“When we get in that meeting room, we have each other and we’re going out there to try to be a great football team and leave a legacy.

Quarterback isn’t the only position where the starter has not been established. Position battles continue at center, punter and placekicker.

Mullen said there also are decisions to be made at every position about how much the players behind the starters are going to play in the opener.

“I’ve told guys right now you might be at 20 reps going into game one,” Mullen said. “How you perform in game one, it could be 25 or 15 in game two. (It depends on) how you go perform and the effort you play with.”

Notes: Three Gators on the coaches’ preseason All-SEC first team — OT Martez Ivey, DE Cece Jefferson, S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Second team — CJ Henderson at DB. Third team — RB Jordan Scarlett, LB David Reese, DB Marco Wilson. … Mullen on injury report: “All our guys are good.”

Click back for more from today’s news conference.

20 COMMENTS

  1. It feels so good to finally have a competent coach again, to be able to read articles like this and be able to feel proud of our coach, to nod and think– this guy is the real deal instead of always wtf is this idiot talking about? It’s been a long time coming. My only worry with Mullen is that someone is going to try and steal him away.

  2. Yeah they posted an article on Saturday Down South with a video of Del Rio bashing Mac and how he used to pull scholarships from players, including RJ Raymond, who Mullen just gave a scholarship back to the other day. I mean the more stuff that comes out about him the more shocked I am how he was ever given this job to begin with. He’s easily going to go down as the worst of all time. After hearing all the stuff thats come out since he was fired, I’m surprised a lot of the players loved him as much as they did, unless that was all BS on the players part. Mullen is a godsend for sure.

    • Boy you’re sure right about that, Joe. I’m not sure if they loved him all that much, if he was that capricious with the levers he held, but it sure does go a long way to explain their lack of enthusiasm and sense of urgency as things wore on. Not sure I even want to hear more, rather instead just try to forget that chapter.

  3. 1. I guess david reese is fine, and that 247 sports isn’t correct.
    2. LDR’s comments about Mac really did explain a lot. ive been a mac defender, somewhat, ok, enough is enough. I do hold LDR in high regard. anyway we have a fun coach now, wish LDR was on the team though.
    3. I guess the QB race is closer than I thought, which is good news. its clearly not the acrimonious brisset / driskel thing. Usually a Fla qb is border line nfl talent, and we may have 3 at that level.

    • I’m not sure I’m buying the all our guys are fine comment. His response to a reporter in another article posted on here directly asking him about Reese, was very wishy washy. He’s refusing to talk about injuries till camp is over. Hopefully he is fine though, cause we can’t afford to lose him for an extended period of time, which could be the case with high ankle sprains.

  4. Which ever Q.B. starts, this I’m certain of: I’m more excited for this season than I have been in a long time. This team’s comradery, their friendship, their closeness and loyalty to each other will go a long way, and pay dividends this season. They may go 9-3 (my best case scenario), or they made end up 7-5 (my worst case scenario), in my opinion. But either way, I am stoked for this new era of Florida football with Coach Dan Mullen & Co. An era with competent coaching and great athletes suiting up for the Orange & Blue. So…
    Go Gators! Just do it! You fellas are DUE!

  5. Agree,Gator65. I think Florida could win every game, too. But I also hear Pat Dooley and Chris Doering saying, ”patience, the offense won’t be successful over night” on Pat’s podcast.
    But ultimately, the coaches & the players, themselves, have the FINAL SAY… So, ”Go Gators! Just do it!”

  6. Today, UF will have their starting QB who will be taking the majority of snaps at practice today and the rest of the week… Here is the dilemma facing the coaches judgement in determining the starting QB…normally, when you have 2 QB’s with equal talent you usually go with the guy with the most experience…in this case that advantage would go to Franks. But, not so fast my friend…both Franks and Trask have big arms and can throw the ball 60 yds down field and both have exhibited their arm strength in practice, but, do they have the ability to consistently make plays…I have watched Franks make unbelievable throws and nod my head in amazement…then the next play I’m shaking my head in disbelieve when he throws into double coverage and gets the ball knocked down or intercepted… when he had a open receiver downfield and an open safety valve receiver open 10 yds away…then again he may throw the ball 90 miles an hour when the receiver is only 5 yds away… Franks, does have a great presence and demeanor on the field and he certainly looks the part of as a starting QB… and I do believe the coaches wanted him to be the QB…but, I do believe they know that Franks can also get you beat with his inconsistencies… he still has a lots of last years tendencies of holding the ball too long, reading defenses and not seeing open receivers…but, I will say he is doing a better job than last year…maybe, because Mullen is standing behind him yelling at him to throw the ball…and 7 on 7 drills just aren’t the same as a practice scrimmage when you have 22 players on the field at the same time running at full speed with a full rush, along with blitzes…The coaches are looking for the QB that is the most consistent moving the ball downfield under these conditions and most of all, the ability to make third downs … They are looking for the QB that will start game 2, against Kentucky because, they believe any of the 3 QB’s could start and be able to win the first game against CS…however, I believe all 3 QB’s will play in the first game at some point … Franks does seem to have more confidence this year and seems to have a little more leadership abilities than Trask, at this time, but he is not as accurate throwing the ball as Trask…Trask at this point seems to have a better understanding of the game than Franks and has the ability to read the defense, which Franks is still struggling with…Trask really runs hard into the line of scrimmage and is a very capable runner, but not the breakaway runner Franks and Jones are….Trask is not flashy but is very capable of moving the ball on a more consistent basis and has all the throws and has the quickest release of all of the QB’s…He is not as likely to make mistakes like Franks is…and will not get you beat by the QB position… My pick is Trask to start the first game and Franks will be the back up…I think UF will use it’s powerful running game in the first 3 games and not let the QB position get you beat …don’t be surprised if UF leads the conference in rushing this year, perhaps 2, 1000 yd rushers…well, we will all find out in today’s practice who will start next Saturday.

    • Interesting, Cody. I don’t really care who it is- I leave that to the coaches, but it will be interesting if it is Trask, for the reasons you state. It will kind of remind me of Spurrier when he first got to Florida and started Shane Matthews. Sometimes when first arrive at a school, you just aren’t going to have the star QB you wish you had, but you hopefully have someone with more potential than expected who can do a good job for a couple of years. A good coach can take that guy and win a lot of games with him.