Only three practices into the spring, it’s far too early to declare a leader in the quarterback competition. But it’s apparently easy to spot the one who is the most comfortable at the moment.
That would be Feleipe Franks, last year’s starter.
“I think just his comfort being on the field,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said Wednesday. “You look at him. Kyle (Trask) has a good understanding of the game as well. But you can see with Feleipe his experience, having been out there and playing and being in the huddle and being in there with pass rushers and having played a little bit more college football. You can see that with him in his comfort out there on the field.”
Overall, the quarterbacks seem to be off to a solid if not spectacular start this spring. They’re learning a new offense and going through the installation process, so there is a learning curve for everybody.
Mullen says he’s got some talent to work with.
“I like the work ethic they have,” he said. “They have some arm talent. Watching those guys throw the ball, they definitely have some arm talent and ability to make a lot of different throws, which is fun to coach. You can put some more things in. You can do things, you can do it around their ability to throw the ball.
“Accuracy, though, is the most important thing. I’d rather take a very, very accurate quarterback over a guy that throws it 80, 70-80 yards and just explaining that to them and understanding that.”
Mullen and the offensive coaches will continue to install more of the offense as the spring progresses. They haven’t put in a whole lot yet, but what they have has been handled well by the quarterbacks, Mullen said.
“I’ve been pleased with how they’ve picked things up within the offense,” Mullen said. “It’s going to take a lot of reps before they get comfortable. But I haven’t seen the confused looks out of any of them yet. But it’s through three days.
“We’ve got another installation tomorrow. Eventually what you want to see is when it catches up to them and they eventually give you the deer-in-the-headlight look where kind of, ‘OK, my brain is now like maxed with all the stuff you’re throwing at me.’ ”
So far, it appears true freshman quarterback Emory Jones is keeping up with the more experienced quarterbacks. He’s the one true dual-threat QB in the group, and obviously the most comfortable when the situation calls for him to run the ball.
Jones also showed some arm strength and accuracy in last Saturday’s open practice.
“He’s a high school kid coming in cool and collected a little bit, not panicking,” co-offensive coordinator John Hevesy said. “You see him in there trying to make his reads, trying to do things. Everything is a little slower than it is for the two older guys that have been around for at least college football. But to me, just impressed with how he’s handled his mannerisms in the huddle. On the line of scrimmage, he’s done a very good job.”
Perhaps the forgotten player in the quarterback race is Kyle Trask, who emerged as a contender for the starting role last spring, but injured his knee early in the 2017 season and wasn’t heard from again.
The redshirt sophomore is back, zipping the ball around the practice field. He’s also shown he can make some things happen with his legs.
“He’s got a live arm,” Mullen said. “Throws the ball really well. He’s got a lot of talent. Watching him, I think he’s bought in to what we want to do.
“I tell (the quarterbacks) that running aspect, I just want you to be a willing runner. If the defense gives you the opportunity to run, go run and go do it. He’s shown a decent bit of athleticism to be able to run the ball as well.”