No decision on No. 2 QB
Published: Friday, August 22, 2014 at 11:59 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 22, 2014 at 11:59 a.m.
Florida’s competition for the No. 2 quarterback role is going to carry over into game week.
The Gators broke for the weekend Friday morning, and UF coach Will Muschamp said there’s been no decision yet on who will back up starting quarterback Jeff Driskel. That decision won’t be made until early next week, Muschamp said, only a few days before the opener against Idaho.
Muschamp said the coaches also are holding off decisions on the open starting jobs at place-kicker, offensive guard and three positions in the secondary — one cornerback spot, one safety spot and at nickel.
“We’ll release a depth chart next week. We haven’t made any decisions as far as backup quarterback, place-kicker, who’s starting in the secondary,” Muschamp said. “None of those decisions have been made. We’re going to meet as a staff this afternoon and review today’s film. We just got off the field. We’ll go from there.”
The competition for the No. 2 quarterback spot has been a tight one throughout camp involving three players — sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg and true freshmen Will Grier and Treon Harris.
Although many have been assuming it will ultimately come down to one of the freshmen winning the job, Muschamp mentioned Friday that there are still three in the mix.
“Yes (the competition is close),” Muschamp said. “We've had discussions of where we are and we'll have another one again today and we'll meet as a staff on Sunday. We'll give the staff off Saturday and get back Sunday and have lengthy discussions again moving forward on what's best for our football program. All three of those guys have done a nice job and all three of those guys bring good things to the table and we just need to make the best decision for Florida."
The three quarterbacks shared reps with the No. 2 offense throughout camp. Although they struggled with consistency at times, all three had success in the passing game and in moving Kurt Roper’s spread, uptempo offense.
Mornhinweg started the last three games last season, but rarely had a chance to throw the ball, especially down the field. Grier was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice, while Harris did not join the team until this summer.
Muschamp said the decision will be based on performance in preseason camp.
"Well, I think body of work up to this point. We'll make a decision from there,” he said.
Muschamp said whoever the No. 2 quarterback turns out to be, he’ll see playing time in the first half in the opener.
"We'd like to, by the second quarter, whoever ends up being the guy and go from there,” Muschamp said. “I think that again, giving game situations, kind of like we did our first year."
While Muschamp and the offensive staff could know by Monday who the backup quarterback is going to be, the competition for those three starting spots in the secondary could carry deep into next week, Muschamp said.
The only two known starters in the secondary are Vernon Hargreaves III at one cornerback and Keanu Neal at one of the safety spots.
Jabari Gorman, Marcus Maye and Brian Poole are practicing both at safety and nickel. True freshman Duke Dawson is double training at corner and safety, while Marcell Harris and Nick Washington are pushing for playing time at safety.
At cornerback, three true freshmen — J.C. Jackson, Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor — are in the mix for the starting role, along with Poole.
“What’s going to be our combination of five right now, we haven’t made that decision,” Muschamp said. “We want to evaluate the film again today and we’ll go at it hard (in practice). We’re going to practice Monday night. It will be a full-pads practice and then we’ll come back Tuesday in shells and we’ll make a decision on Wednesday and Thursday about how we practice.”
Muschamp said regardless of who starts in the secondary, many players are going to see playing time, including the true freshmen.
“I think it’s going to be settled the first series,” Muschamp said. “After that we’re going to be rolling players in there because all of those guys have earned the right to have the opportunity to step on the field and play, and I have confidence in all of them.
“As we move closer to game week a lot of times, in my experience, that’s where you create a little more separation, the anxiety of game day and how those guys handle the situation.
“But, again, I’m very much up in the air on where we will go right now because I do think it’s very close. I do think those guys all do some nice things for us and we certainly can function and win with all of them.”
As for the other starting jobs that remain open, Frankie Velez and Austin Hardin are battling for the field-goal kicking role, while Trenton Brown, Tyler Moore and Trip Thurman are competing for the two open offensive guard spots.
Muschamp said the other starters on the offensive line are D.J. Humphries and Chaz Green at tackle and Max Garcia at center. Brown, Moore and Thurman have all worked extensively with the first unit. Brown also has gotten reps at tackle and Thurman reps at center.
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