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.”