Notebook: No early leader for backup QB role


Florida quarterbacks (from left) Jeff Driskel, Skyler Mornhinweg and Will Grier look on during practice on Thursday. Mornhinweg and Grier are competing with Treon Harris for the backup quarterback spot.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, August 8, 2014 at 5:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 8, 2014 at 5:15 p.m.

In the competition for the backup role behind starting quarterback Jeff Driskel, there is no early leader, according to UF coach Will Muschamp.

“Not right now,” he said Friday. “All three guys are even and we have been trying to get guys — to be fair — different looks with different units and we’ll continue to rotate those guys with the different offensive lines and different skill kids to make sure those guys get the fair opportunity.”

Sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg and true freshmen Will Grier and Treon Harris have shared reps with the No. 2 offense.

Muschamp said a determination on the No. 2 quarterback will likely be made after the third week of camp.

“We’ve had a lot of discussion,” Muschamp said. “I think Will and Treon both are very athletic guys and we probably will make them live at some point in some scrimmage as we move forward.

“But the 15th or 16th practice, we come back and we have a scrimmage on the Friday, then the Saturday morning will be more of a special teams practice, then we’re going to take Sunday off. That Monday and Tuesday we’ll have some live work for those guys to see how they respond in those situations and we’ll probably have a decision after that.”

Muschamp said the two true freshmen have been impressive at times.

“Those guys have shown some really good things as far as arm talent and poise,” he said. “The No. 1 thing that strikes me with both young men is they have a very positive way about themselves with the players. I think I call it the ‘it factor.’ They both have that as far as how the players respond to them.

“You can see why they were where they were in high school and the accomplishments they have are very easy to see. They’re very talented guys, but I look at more the intangible part of that position, and they both have that.”

Driskel, Debose graduating

Driskel and sixth-year senior wide receiver Andre Debose have been excused from practice today to go through graduation ceremonies.

“Andre Debose and Jeff Driskel both graduate Saturday morning and neither one of them will practice. They’re both walking,” Muschamp said. “Proud of those guys, so again another great opportunity for those young quarterbacks to get some great reps on Saturday and congratulations to Jeff and Andre for graduating. I’m really proud of those guys.”

Driskel on target

Driskel has been accurate in camp, Muschamp said.

“He’s completing over 70 percent (of his passes) in the first four practices. I just think he does a good job making decisions from the gun,” Muschamp said. “I’m very pleased with his progress. He’d probably be over 75 percent. He had a couple of drops last night. He’s had a couple of drops through camp. Timing has been very good. He’s thrown the ball well. He’s making very good decisions in the run and pass game.”

Muschamp said the receivers, along with new receivers coach Chris Leak, also are playing a role in Driskel’s early success.

“I’ve been very pleased with the wideouts,” Muschamp said. “I think from a competitive edge standpoint, we’ve got a little more older group than maybe we had a year or two ago, but those guys have done a nice job of competing. Been very pleased with their progress.

“I always tell the guys ‘Your tape’s your resume,’ and right now those guys, their tape at the receiver position, has been good. Production of your players tells you what kind of coach you are.”

Willis making a move

It’s still early in camp, but true freshman defensive end Gerald Willis is making a strong push for playing time this season. Willis showed great explosiveness off the line in Thursday’s practice and spent a lot of time in the backfield disrupting plays.

“He has really good block instincts, playing blocks,” Muschamp said. “He has a really quick first step. He's a heavy-handed guy, really strong with his hands. He plays with good effort. He's about 255-258 and he has a very big upside and will help us this year.

“He's a guy that's shown some flashes in the pass rush. I'm very pleased with where he is, just have to continue to handle the installation."

Some depth on OL

All indications are that the offensive line depth has already improved, thanks in part to the good early play of junior guard Trip Thurman and redshirt freshman tackle Rod Johnson.

Muschamp said at this point, Thurman is the No. 3 offensive guard behind Tyler Moore and Trenton Brown and the No. 2 center, while Johnson has emerged as the No. 3 offensive tackle behind starters D.J. Humphries and Chaz Green.

Right now we feel very comfortable with Chaz and D.J. Humphries at tackle,” Muschamp said. “Rod Johnson is playing really well right now, competing. Trenton also is a guy who would be our fourth offensive tackle at this time.

“(True freshman) David Sharpe continues to come on and do some nice things (at tackle). I think, athletically, he’s where you need to be. Strength level needs to increase, and picking up the speed and system. And I’m very pleased with (true freshman) Andrew Mike, guy who has some length. Good punch. But like David, he’s swimming a little mentally.”

Poole could start at CB

After playing exclusively at the nickel position last season, junior Brian Poole is working at cornerback in camp and making a strong push for the starting role opposite All-SEC corner Vernon Hargreaves III.

“He’s had a really good camp. He’s played extremely well. We needed to see what he could do at corner,” Muschamp said. “Brian has been very productive at corner.

“We have some good wideouts. You’re talking in terms of Quinton (Dunbar) and Andre (Debose) and Demarcus (Robinson), some guys who can vertically stretch the field. He’s covered all of those guys well and he needs to continue to.”

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