Mullen expects second scrimmage will determine UF’s starting QB

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Florida quarterbacks warm up before practice last Saturday at Maguire Field on campus. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun]

Florida coach Dan Mullen appears closer to knowing who his starting quarterback is going to be in the aftermath of the Gators’ first preseason scrimmage Monday night in The Swamp.

By the end of the next scrimmage, which is Sunday, he may know for sure. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anyone else is going to know, Mullen said Wednesday.

“I don’t have an answer for your question if you’re questioning who’s going to be the guy,” Mullen said. “But, I’d like to have an answer after the next scrimmage. I don’t know if I’ll share it with everybody. I’d like for me to have an answer.”

Sunday’s scrimmage will be the team’s second.

Two days after the first scrimmage, Mullen offered an assessment of where the quarterbacks are at two weeks into preseason camp.

“They’re coming along,” he said. “One, they’ve got to show the confidence. That’s job one for all of them. They’re still learning what to do out there on the field.

“When it does come to you, you need to go make the plays and make decisions. They’re coming along. It’s understanding how to play the game, too.”

Last Saturday’s practice, which was open to the media, may have offered a glimpse into where the quarterbacks stand in terms of their progress, and how far they still have to go.

During seven-on-seven drills against the defensive backs and linebackers, all three quarterbacks — Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Emory Jones — completed a high percentage of passes and had numerous touchdown passes, mostly on deep throws.

But when the Gators went to 11-on-11 later in practice, all three quarterbacks struggled to complete passes and consistently move the offense.

There are reports that the quarterbacks had similar struggles at times in Monday’s scrimmage.

“ A lot of it is just today’s world at quarterback with young guys,” Mullen said. “When we go to seven-on-seven now, they can light it up. Everybody goes to seven-on-seven camps all summer and seven-on-seven this and seven-on-seven that.

“Then all of a sudden you put pass rush, you put some more guys in some blitzes, you’re hot, you have to do some other things. Different story.

“It’s a different deal. I think that transition and learning, they’re still processing it and coming along.”

Franks, who started eight games last season as a redshirt freshman, continues to take the first snaps with the No. 1 offense. But he shares reps with the other two quarterbacks over the course of each practice.

The quarterbacks likely will follow the same pattern in Sunday’s second scrimmage.

As for the performance of the overall team in Monday’s first scrimmage, Mullen said it was just “OK.”

“We have to continually get mentally tougher in every aspect of the game,” he said. “I think we have some talent on the team. When things go well, our guys do well. We’ve got to learn that mental toughness of how to handle and overcome adversity.

“I think offensively we need to get more confidence. Just in the body language and demeanor and every aspect of things.”

Over the first two weeks of camp, the coaches have installed a lot on both sides of the ball, and players are learning as they go, Mullen said.

“We got a bunch of reps in in the scrimmage,” he said. “So, they’re kind of processing a lot. That gets to the mental toughness.

“We talk about effort at practice. The younger guys, they go, ‘Great effort, coach did you see how hard I went on that play?’ ‘Yeah, but you did the wrong thing. So, I love your physical effort, but I hate your mental effort on that play.’ It’s that combination of both we have to get better at.”

63 COMMENTS

  1. Ahhhhh…… yes! Everything seems like it’s right where it ought to be right now. I feel comfort just in reading these feedbacks from a sane, balanced and articulate coach who does things like a normal coach. I feel good about this season and this team and these coaches.

  2. I am hoping Franks is able to get his decision making where it needs to be so we can have a better offense. All three being equal is not an encouraging sign. But I gotta’ hope that if all are equal, Jones would get the nod.

    • David – I believe the exact same way you do. If Franks doesn’t look way better than the other two, than Jones should be the starter. If the spot light is too much for Jones right now, then the QB situation will be more difficult. I have to trust in Coach Mullen and wait to watch the games like everyone else. GO GATORS!!!

    • Jonzee. The second game vs. Kentucky will tell everyone how this season will likely go concerning the position of QB. One player will take command, hopefully, of the team in that game in The Swamp and show potential in the offense. All the QBs will play and not be challenges much in the first game.

        • I don’t think there’s any question…..or at least only very minor questions…..that the Gator defense will stifle Kentucky, but I think the open question depends on what type of SEC defense Kentucky will bring against our OL in the trenches. If they win that battle with an “average” defense, and routinely pressure our QB(s) and contain our excellent running backs, I agree…..that will probably be the barometer for the season.

          I am hoping that the line will hold, the running backs will find holes, and the WR’s will get open with our QB(s) standing tall in the pocket and scrambling only when needed. THAT is the barometer I would like to see!

          • 6 the offense should have some legs this year even if they are just fining them. If our defense does its job the offense doesn’t have to be great or real good for that matter. They just need to be better than last year. Good basics. Skilled guys not making mistakes, OL not missing assignments. Didn’t say that this will yield high scoring (it could). There were so many missed opportunities last year that if the players had used the basics in execution the number of mistakes wouldn’t have happened. case in point LSU, T A&M, SC. Those games may have been won on fitness alone which seems (must see on field) to be vastly improved. I expect our DL to be gelling when we get Kentucky. I also expect them to through some things at our D to try to rattle them. But I don’t think they will cave. With Mullen’s offense being a lot more dynamic than the dive play. I think that will take some pressure off the OL which will also prevent defenses from stacking the box and being a show of force in the middle. Divide and conquer strategy.

          • You’re onto something there, 65. And thanks to GI and now Glen Kemp, I’m going to most likely be yelling at the TV this year, what is becoming a popular refrain, “JUST DO IT!”.

            That’ll sure beat the tapestry of profanity I was screaming at it last year!

  3. It’s kind of concerning that they struggle in 11 on 11 drills because I am pretty sure the other team is going to play 11 guys (except for Kentucky, sometimes they only play 10 like in last years game). But they still have two more weeks to get things right. Got to have faith. I am also kind of concerned about the depth at corner. Mullen said in his press conference they moved the freshman RB Iverson Clement to corner to get some reps due to some guys being banged up. Also said Quincy Lenton is out for the year with a torn achilles and he was in line to start at safety. Always going to have some injuries to contend with though so other guys are going to have to step up. I think Amari Burney the freshman will be a starting safety sooner than planned.

  4. Rob1962. Lenton was not in line to start at center. He was buried on the depth chart at safety and likely was only going to play on special teams this year. But he has been hurt every year he has been on scholarship at Florida. And Clement was moved to safety, not corner, only for practice while Taylor and Davis are on the mend from “not serious” ailments. Mullen clearly stated that Clement “is a running back” and is only back there now to help out in practice as an extra body. Losing Lenton is not a big deal, although he could have helped on special teams.

  5. What is seemingly apparent is that Florida is getting better on offense, but there are depth issues on that side of the ball on the offensive line. That is not a good thing and could spell trouble as the season wears on. Florida cannot have injuries on the OL this year.

  6. Well last year clueless Coach Mac had us pumped up on the strength and improvement of his offensive line prior to playing Michigan. Then the game was played and we were let down and surprised how he misjudged the team. Current players have spoken out since then confirming how unprepared they were because of weak off season conditioning. At least Mullen won’t give us false hope about this team.

  7. Reading the tea leaves, it sounds like it’s gonna be Franks. Ugh. Was really hoping to see Trask get a shot, but not sounding like it. Franks continues to be the first guy out to run the 1st team offense. To me, that basically is the starter. And Mullen seems to be emphasizing confidence, which is one thing Franks has plenty of, and Trask not enough. Too bad. Maybe I need to start hoping for Emory. Go Gators!

    • Or neither. Let’s try hoping that Coach Mullen makes the right decision, whoever it ends up being. We haven’t had a coach do that in quite a while. And the decision should not just be for the immediate future, but for the longer term. In other words, which QB has the best long term upside and give the Gators 2-3 years of leadership and productivity.

    • How about we actually start supporting Franks and wishing for the best. I mean the guy has clearly gone above and beyond this offseason to improve. According to pretty much everyone on the team, he’s a complete film rat now, which proves he’s become a student of the game and trying to better himself mentally. He’s also become a team leader and a guy every player loves and supports. I mean Trask and Jones had to be berated by Savage for being some of the last guys out of the locker room and told them they were going to have to deal with him if he doesn’t see them first out every time. You really think that’s the mentality of a leader? Besides doing everything he can to get better mentally, he’s put on about 15 lbs of muscle and is now playing at the same weight Tebow was. There’s quite a few videos of him on twitter trucking guys in practice. He’s going to be a handful in the running game. We all need to just erase last year from our minds and chalk it up to many reasons why he didn’t succeed as far as coaching is concerned and start supporting him. We better hope the guy with the most experience has the most success, cause the last thing we want is another first year starting QB making first year starting QB mistakes, especially one who hasn’t played significant snaps since middle school. If Trask was the superstar everyone is making him out to be, you can bet for damn sure it wouldn’t have taken this long to start.

      • Joe I agree already said earlier the whole team gets a pass for the last several years. We have some real talent here that has been squandered by incompetent past coaches. Franks may not be a future Brady but we expected him to carry us on his shoulders when he didn’t have sufficient coaching. This to me applies to the whole team. No so much a rebuild as retraining (actual coaching). I think with Mullens staff we’ll be competing this year. Alabama level probably not but I don’t think we’d get blown out because of talent and conditioning. Depth is were there may be issues.

      • Kentucky will be the first hard game true indeed, but after the scripted plays in the first game is over I will be able to if Frank’s progressed. As far as whole, Kentucky will give you and idea of where we are, but they can get better as the season goes on if qb play is better than last year

    • I am still hoping, I don’t think Mullens wants to tip is hat to who will be starting VS KY. Who cares who starts against Charleston So, let Frank’s syart, bring in Traskthen Emory and whoever else assuming we are ahead by enough. And I would wait until the very last minute to announce my starter for KY. Please let it be Trask.

  8. Florida will certainly have a better offense than the last several years… I have watched most of the fall practices and in my opinion, both Franks and Trask are by far the better QB’s at this point…but, the key to being a good QB is his ability to make 3rd downs on a consistent basis…that;s the money down…Now, if you are going to pick a QB on his physical appearance, athletic ability and arm strength, without doubt, Franks would be the first pick every time… and Franks sure shows off his arm strength during practice…He’ll make one or two great throws down field and then throws an interception or gets sacked during process….the kid throws a great long ball, but still struggles trying to move the ball on third down situations, it seems like it’s all or nothing with him… His leadership roll and confidence has greatly improved but his lack of consistency to move the ball downfield in increments is a bit of concern to me…I’m not sure he would be my starter because he holds the ball too long and is hesitant trying to find a receiver… he needs more than 3 seconds to get rid of the ball…this is really quite noticeable in the red zone where the field is shorter… believe me, he is much better than last year… but, he still tries to throw the ball in real tight spaces when the RW is doubled or even triple covered…in my opinion, Trask is a concern as well, my question is can he stay healthy for a full season…he has been playing the last 4-5 practices with two taped fingers on his throwing hand…you can tell it has effected his accuracy to some degree…Trask is by far the most accurate passer of the group…and has a better understanding of the game and the game management …he throws less interceptions than the other two QB’s and doesn’t seem to get sacked… one reason is because he doesn’t hold on to the ball as much as Franks, he has a very quick release and although, he too, has great arm strength he doesn’t exhibit it as much in practice as Franks, but Trask can make all the necessary throws all over the field to be successful … I don’t think Trask exhibits the leadership role as Franks does…both show some degree of confidence … Trask does seems to be able to move the ball down field on a more consistently and makes more 3rd downs than the other two…Franks throws more long passes for TD’s than Trask, but Trask seems to be a better fit for the red zone. I think he a great short yardage runner, kind of like Tebow, but, I am in no way comparing him to Tebow, but, he does runs really hard … Guy’s don’t be surprised if Trask is the starter by the second or third game of the season…I do think Mullen will give Franks the opportunity to start in the first game since he started 8 games last year…but, he is still making the same mistakes, although, not as many…He is still having trouble reading defenses and doing dumb things on 3rd downs…All that said, Trask would be my starter, because he is more consistent on 3rd downs, we will have to see how he reacts in a real game ….

  9. I agree Cody I Like Trask good arm, quick release, more accurate, and a willing runner which is what CDM is asking for. My first choice is Trask and everyone heard it from me he will be a STAR…. He reads progressions, and doesn’t hold onto the ball long. Don’t forget what his High School Coach said “I just hope I won’t be the guy, who sat and never started Trask.” That speaks volumes to me he can be the Guy…..

  10. Thank Coach McStupid for running off Will Grier, although Grier did do something dumb. Mac sent him right to West Virginia where is a 2-year starter. Mac would not guarantee him the QB job after the 1 year ended. West Va. waited one year and another 6 months to get their guy, who is now rated a first team All-American by many analysts. Thanks Mac. Grier is now at West Virginia, Mac’s trying to find a job as assistant line coach with an Iowa high school team and Franks and Trask are stumbling through their JV tryouts with predictable results.; Hey Mac: Anything else you left and didn’t tell the Gators about? Will we read it in the Sunday papers about NCAA violations, recruiting issues, team chemistry collapsing, too may studs and not enough players. Don’t know what it will be but it’s coming. Thanks for nothing.

    • Grier was a selfish loser who put himself before the team. His stupid decision cost the program 2 seasons whether he would’ve stayed or not. Mac and Nuss would’ve ruined him anyway and there’s no doubt he wouldn’t be putting up the numbers he is right now at WVU. That offense is perfect for him, hell that offense is perfect for any half decent Qb, as every one of them that’s gone through that program has put up huge numbers and not one of them has had any kind’ve success at the next level. Hell most of them get moved to WR. It’s easy to sit here and throw stones now, but at the time Mac couldn’t handcuff the program for 2 years to cater to a guy who had potential and put himself before the program.

    • Yep, will never understand that one. Grier single handedly carried the offense that half of the season. Should have fired Mac for that one alone. Biggest player move mistake ever. Second worst, imho, being Muschamp’s getting rid of Janoris Jenkins, one of the best cornerbacks in Gator history, all because of a small amount of pot. Compared to what Meyer allowed? And all the second chances given to Calloway?

    • Does anyone know really the real reason Grier transferred? If it was Mac not giving a guaranty for him to automatically become the starter after a year layoff, so be it. Most coaches would have done the same thing. Think how the back-up qb’s would have felt. All would have transferred and few high school qb’s would even consider UF. By the way, wasn’t Mac hired rather late during the recruiting cycle and still brought in a decent class with two 5 stars in Jefferson and Ivy? Would someone explain to me how Mac “ran him off”.

    • DFF BBQ sauce I remember another incoherent interview with him on his BBQ sauce.
      Recapping his claim to fame or infamy.
      Shark love
      BBQ sauce
      Spiraling the talk to obscurity
      I’m still proud to be a Gator fan in spite of his efforts to turn my hair gray, make me spew obscenities at the tv, pull my hair out, doing way more yard work than I should be as anger management. The list is longer but too hard to type on phone. In all kinds of weather we all sick together. Go Gators!

          • And yet the 2 teams that had far more talent and were picked to win it didn’t, go figure. Mac’s a loser of a coach, but you have to give credit where credit is due. Muschamp couldn’t even come close to the SEC championship game with his own players and the East was just as weak. I’m tired of Gator fans discrediting their own team by claiming the East was weak when 6 other teams, 2 of which were more talented, couldn’t win it. Not a single sports publication or writer picked the Gators to win it either season.

          • To clarify…I was making fun of Coach Mac because that’s what he always said, like we should be happy as Gator fans with the talent we have in the state of Florida with getting to the SEC championship game and being uncompetitive and getting destroyed by Bama. What was impressive is that we made to their despite Coach Mac. Watching each game each week it was clear that we weren’t very good even though we squeaked out some wins against average teams.

          • Joe, I really don’t want to bash Coach Mac. I do bash him and I know I shouldn’t. But, I don’t see how anyone can defend the coaching job he did, even the first two seasons. I’m arguing that he did very little to get UF to the SEC Championship game. He inherited good players, actually great players on defense. But the offense was awful. In fairness, he also inherited those players but his coaching and scheming did NOTHING to make them better or effective. If you remember the FSU and Bama games, the defense got a bad rap for the end result but the bottom line was they played amazing the first 2 1/2 quarters and then wore out from being on the field the entire game. The offense was beyond awful. That is on Coach Mac.

  11. I’m not sure the Charleston Southern game will not tell us much about the QB situation or the overall team ability. The following week against Kentucky, the story line will be 30 straight losses to Florida (or whatever it is), including that dramatic overtime win in the Swamp. KY is supposedly much improved on Off and Def. They will definitely show up to play. Do not expect the Cats to roll-over–Unless Florida suddenly becomes the 2006 or 2008 Gators.

    • I think that is the unspoken concern, Cattrick — so thanks for saying it. Kentucky coming the second weekend is supposed to be a barometer for the rest of the season, and I’m in that crowd too more or less. That said, I can’t help but think that we may not really have all the kinks worked out — or the rust knocked off — by the second game no matter who it is (much less an SEC opponent). This is definitely one year I wish we had two cupcakes in a row before we got on with it, and that’s by no means meant to be a knock on Dan Mullen and staff.

  12. I’ve been away, North to Alaska and all, and now find all your comments fascinating. As for coaches, every program has made poor hires. It happens. What matters is finding the right guy to fix the problem. Had
    Muschamp not been so stubborn about his offense he’d still be our coach. McElwain was a miss.

    Regarding quarterbacks, why would any of us fear Dan Mullen’s QBs will only be as good, or bad, as what we’ve endured these past several years. It’s been so bad that lots of Gator fans still grieve over the loss of the cavalier Will Grier and his five quarters of glory.

    We’re starving for exciting, imaginative offense and a swagger we all can share. Whether it’s Franjs it Trask, Jones or so embody else by next season, the QB is going to find a horde of talent at wide receiver, tight end and running back. The tough, abrasive Hevesy will develop at least a decent SEC offensive line. It’s about to become much fun again to be a Florida Gator.