Florida coach Jim McElwain has decided how he’s going to use his quarterbacks in the opener against Michigan. He’s just not ready to let anyone else know what that plan is yet.
Michigan — and everyone else — will have to wait until Saturday to find out who starts at quarterback for the Gators.
“The quarterback situation, we have a plan that’s in place,” McElwain said Monday. “No, I’m not going to tell you what it is, so there’s no reason to ask. But we’re excited about that. We’ll leave that for them (Michigan) to guess as well.”
Feleipe Franks, Luke Del Rio and Malik Zaire have been engaged in a tight quarterback battle since the start of camp earlier this month. McElwain has been hesitant throughout to say whether there has been any separation among the three, electing only to say he’s been happy with their progress.
When asked if it would be a game-time decision on who starts, McElwain said, “Um, we’ve got a plan.”
Well, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has a QB plan, too. And he’s not revealing his either.
“We are not announcing our starting quarterback,” Harbaugh said Monday. Harbaugh also is holding off on releasing his roster to the media until Wednesday.
What makes McElwain’s gamesmanship (or mind game) a little different than Harbaugh’s is that the Gators have three quarterbacks with distinctly different styles.
Franks is a 6-foot-6 pocket passer with a powerful arm who also has some escapability. Del Rio is a pocket passer and game manager. Zaire is a legitimate dual-threat quarterback who brings the read-option into play.
McElwain said last week there was a possibility all three quarterbacks will play in Saturday’s game.
“(Michigan) is going to prepare, obviously, for the read-option stuff and quarterback run stuff as well as being able to contain a guy in the pocket,” McElwain said. “At the same time, we’ve got to prepare for locking it up and letting those other guys throw it down field. I think the big key to us is going to be how we handle what they do up front. As you know, I like our offensive line, I like where we’re at, but to me that’s going to be the tell-tale of everything we do.”
Whatever the QB plan is, McElwain is adamant that no one (other than the offensive coaches and the quarterbacks themselves, probably/maybe) knows what it is until Saturday.
When pressed for more information Monday, he would not budge.
He would not reveal whether the quarterbacks know what the plan is yet. Or what their reaction was if/when they were told. He would not say why he’s holding back announcing his plan.
“Um, our preparation has been good,” McElwain said, when asked if the quarterbacks know. “They always know we have a plan. There’s a reason we do whatever we do in practice is so they experience those type of situations so that when they come up, they’re prepared. I don’t know. I guess that’s a good question.
“They know we’re going to do what we’re supposed to do. We have to go play hard. That’s what it’s all about. I think they’ll handle it great.”
McElwain had a little fun with the persistent quarterback questions Monday, at one point making a joke about it (at least that’s what everyone is assuming).
“I’m going to let you in on a hint,” he said. “We’re going to open up in Wildcat with (true freshman) Kadarius Toney, all right? There you go. There’s your starter.”
Wide receivers Josh Hammond and Dre Massey said they still have no idea who will start at quarterback, or how many will play in Saturday’s game.
“I don’t know what the plan is, but I’m pretty sure it’ll work. We’ll roll with it,” Hammond said. “I think all the quarterbacks are ready. So whatever the plan is I’m pretty sure we’ll be fine.”
Said Massey: “ I might be in the race, I don’t know.”
McElwain did end up revealing one aspect of his plan, saying that whatever it is, it might not remain the same beyond Saturday’s game.
“Yeah, I think you’re absolutely correct there,” he said. “I think it will evolve as we go. I know it’s one of those deals that, obviously, it’s as important as anything because of that position. But I’m really kind of more concerned about where we’re at up front and how much better we’ve become there that will enable us to open some things up.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.