Gators having veteran QB lessens blow of no spring practice, Matthews says

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Florida quarterback Kyle Trask takes the snap from center Saturday against the Towson Tigers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Matt Pendleton/Correspondent]

Had there been no football in the spring and summer of 1990, there’s no telling where Florida quarterback Shane Matthews’ career might have gone. But there was football — and we all know where it went.

 Matthews went from the bottom of the depth chart (fifth) at the start of the spring to win the starting job over the course of the summer and go on to become the SEC player of the year in 1990.

 So, yeah, the spring and summer were very important back then for Matthews and the Gators.

 But what about the current Florida team? What if this shutdown spring carries over into the summer?

 Matthews said the Gators have a chance to be OK, if it does.

 “I think (spring and summer) are important for guys that are new to the program or trying to win a job,” Matthews said. “The one thing that Florida has an advantage, if you want to call it that right now, is (quarterback) Kyle (Trask) played a majority of the season last year. He’s been in the program, he knows the system.

 “You’ve got your quarterback coming back, you’ve got running backs coming back. You lost a bunch of good receivers, but you’ve got a bunch who have been in the program and the QB is very familiar with the system. 

 “What hurts is not being able to throw to your guys right now because kids are scattered all over the country. That’s the biggest issue that a lot of teams are going to face with what’s going on.”

 If the shutdown lingers into May and June, it could have a major negative impact on some other programs in the SEC, Matthews said. 

 “You look at Georgia,” he said. “They have a new offensive coordinator, they’ve got a new quarterback, so there’s a lot of unknowns there for them. It’s going to be difficult for a team like that.

 “It’s going to be difficult for Mississippi State with (new coach) Mike Leach, Bubba Spurrier and that whole crew, because they’ve yet to see any of their players in action.

 “It’s very bizarre. I think we (the Gators) will be OK. Hopefully, we get to play football this year.”