Forward focus: A look at Florida's quarterbacks
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 5:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 5:10 p.m.
Like Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer before him, Will Muschamp's second Gator team was stronger than his first. The Gators went from 7-6 in 2011 to 11-2 in 2012 with a berth in a BCS bowl game.
Probable depth chart
10-Tyler Murphy OR
-- Max Staver
So, what happens in Year 3?
With so many players departing through a combination of graduation, transfers and leaving early for the NFL, UF is a team in transition as it moves forward into 2013.
Over the next few weeks, we'll break down the Gators position by position to give readers an idea of what to expect and what this UF team might look like in the fall.
With Jeff Driskel establishing himself as the clear starter during the 2012 season, it was obvious to most that No. 2 quarterback Jacoby Brissett probably was not going to stick around. And he hasn't. The old you're-only-one-play-away-from-being-the-starter line was not convincing enough to make Brissett stay at Florida. He recently received his release from UF and is expected to transfer to either West Virginia or North Carolina State, leaving UF with only three scholarship quarterbacks heading into the spring.
Driskel, who was named the starter after seeing the bulk of the playing time in the opener, had a solid and promising first season as the starter, making plays throwing and running the ball. He completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 1,646 yards and 12 touchdowns, while being intercepted only five times. He should be more comfortable and confident in his second year in coordinator Brent Pease's offense, and his passing numbers should improve dramatically along with his decision making. Driskel's backup figures to be redshirt junior Tyler Murphy, an athletic QB who has yet to throw a pass during his UF career. Murphy spent a considerable part of last season on the scout team, helping the UF defense prepare for opposing quarterbacks.
After redshirting last season, freshman Skyler Mornhinweg will start competing with Murphy for the No. 2 spot in the spring. The three-star prospect was a late addition to the 2012 recruiting class, backing out of a Penn State commitment to sign with the Gators. He threw for 4,192 yards and rushed for 1,243 yards during a standout high school career at Saint Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia. He is the son of former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. He picked up the offense relatively quickly during the fall and has a chance to be Driskel's backup if he has a strong spring. Entering the competition this summer will be true freshman Max Staver, a three-star prospect who has been committed to the Gators for months. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound dropback passer's only other offers are from Louisville, Mississippi State, Memphis, Northern Colorado and Tennessee State. Looking ahead to 2014, the Gators already have a commitment from one of the nation's top quarterback prospects — Will Grier from Davidson, N.C.
Driskel said at the Sugar Bowl that he expects his passing numbers to increase dramatically now that he has had a full season of experience in the offense. One key question is: Will Pease limit Driskel's designed QB runs due to the lack of proven depth at the position? Running is a big part of Driskel's game. If he gets more consistent performances out of the offensive line and at wide receiver, Driskel has a chance to have a breakout year in 2013.
Stronger or weaker in 2013?
Although depth is a concern, the position should be stronger simply because Driskel now has more experience and should be more productive, especially in the passing game. He has to stay healthy, though.