Competition Brewing: Who Will Be Florida’s Backup Quarterback?
The Florida football team is in their final days of preseason training camp and with the season opener against Idaho just 10 days away, the Gators still have some very crucial decisions to be made. One of the most critical decisions is finding a back-up to starting quarterback Jeff Driskel – who was rated the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the country out of high school.
Behind Driskel, true freshmen and early enrollees Will Grier and Treon Harris who have been sharing reps with the second team offense are both in competition and vying for the position. The coaching staff is still in the process of evaluating the players and finalizing the depth chart but head coach Will Muschamp said although both are incredibly talented, at this point in fall camp there is no separation between the two. The fourth-year head coach said he’s hoping his players will sort out the majority of his unknowns on the practice field and win the No. 2 spot.
“Right now, really no separation at quarterback behind Jeff,” he said following practice. “We’ll continue to work throughout the week. We don’t have a definite timetable on that right now. Just after watching the film on Saturday there was some good and bad. We’ll continue to work through that.”
“I think that there’s been a lot of positives, but I feel like sometimes we take two steps forward and one step back,” he added. “As far as getting rid of the football, we’ve tried to narrow down the package with all of those guys, not do as much as we’re doing with Jeff.”
It’s no secret that all eyes are on first-year Offensive Coordinator Kurt Roper’s new up-tempo shot-gun spread offense, so there’s a lot of pressure to make the best decision for the 2014 season. Roper met with media on Tuesday and said both Grier and Harris are being closely evaluated on the practice field in order to determine who is the best fit for the back-up role.
“It’s fun to watch,” Roper said. “I think those two guys are talented individuals, I think they’re good people, so they understand how to compete and still be a good teammate. And that’s not easy to do, but I enjoy being around them. Obviously it’s getting close to decision time, but it’s a fluid thing because you never know what can happen. So we have to start focusing in on who is going to spend the time getting the two reps as much as possible.”
Roper added that this is one of the most critical decisions the coaches will make because the Gators need to have their very best quarterback on the field in the event Driskel gets injured, especially considering the season-ending injury he suffered just last fall.
“Well, I think the first thought process is if Jeff goes down, you’ve got to be prepared to go win that game when it happens,” he added. “That’s really where the decision starts and why it never stops and can always be fluid.”
Florida should be releasing a depth chart for the 2014 season within the coming days, until then – the position battles are still well underway.
Here’s a closer look at Florida’s fall training camp, courtesy of GatorVision:
The Gators will unveil their new offense at Florida’s season opener against Idaho Saturday, August 30th at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.