Now that renowned quarterback whisperer Dan Mullen is in charge of the Florida offense, the expectation is the Gators will get elite quarterback play at some point.
But it may not be this season. Or even next.
This was the take from Mullen’s post-practice news conference Monday.
Listening to Mullen, it sounds like the Gators might have to settle for functional QB play in 2018, which they and their fans would have gladly embraced in any of the last eight seasons.
“This year, we’ll get them right,” Mullen said. “We’ll keep putting them in situations, finding out what they’re most comfortable with right now as we go through installation. Each guy what they’re comfortable with and have that package ready for them because you don’t know who’s going to be playing.
“Even if one guy is the starter, you’re a play away from the next guy, so you better know what he’s going to be able to do, too, and put him in positions to be successful.”
Mullen has said he likes the arm talent in the quarterback room. And he likes the potential of his three quarterbacks — Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and true freshman Emory Jones.
Early in preseason camp, though, the three continue to struggle with consistency and grasping the concept of managing the offense and going through their progressions to find the open receiver.
“I’m seeing flashes here and there, but it’s really about consistency of performance,” Mullen said. “One of the things that is hard is how much work you have to put in at the QB position to be successful.
“They are young guys and they’re still learning that. That just takes time because there are so many little intricacies of it. You can’t coach everything at one time, so they’ve got to put in the extra work.”
After Saturday’s practice, Franks and Trask talked about all the work they put in this summer with the receivers and in the film room in preparation for preseason camp and the season.
But Mullen said it’s evident the QBs did not show enough initiative over the summer to take the next step on their own toward becoming a potential elite quarterback.
“No, to be a big-time quarterback, I don’t think they even know how hard that is,” Mullen said. “They should understand it by hopefully next summer. I was hoping maybe with just one of them it would really click, but I didn’t see that happen.
“But that doesn’t shock me. It might not even be next summer, it might be the summer after that. A lot of guys it takes two or three years of really working.”
Mullen has a history of developing elite quarterbacks, starting with Alex Smith at Utah, followed by Tim Tebow at Florida and most recently, Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald at Mississippi State.
Transitioning from functional to elite is a process, and it’s different for every quarterback. It happens quick for some. For others, the development can take some time.
Right now, the UF quarterbacks are early in the process of being coached and developed by Mullen.
“I watch each guy, and that looks really good, and then the next play and that looks really bad,” Mullen said. “They’ve got to understand the why we’re doing what we’re doing in the big picture of things, also be able to manage the offense.
“That’s the one thing that I see from them that I’m harping on all the time. Not just understand their position, but understanding the offense. Their attitude is all really good. They just have a lot of work to do.”