Florida Gators Preview: Quarterbacks
Last season, the Florida quarterback situation was muddled at best. Under new head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, senior John Brantley was pegged as the man who would fit their pro style system.
However, an ankle injury suffered in the fifth game of the season forced Brantley to miss the next two games and be significantly hampered the rest of the way. True freshmen Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel both got seasoning as a result, but each enter 2012 with significant question marks while embroiled in a QB battle.
Brantley ended a disappointing career at Florida that was doomed to failure from the start playing in Urban Meyers spread offense. In his two years as starting quarterback, Florida finished tenth and ninth in total offense in the Southeastern Conference. Now, new offensive coordinator Brent Pease from Boise State will be tasked with making sure the same future does not wait whichever signal caller wins the job in 2012.
Brissett got the most work between the two freshmen after the injury to Brantley and became just the fifth first year player to start under center for the Gators. He was thrown to the fire in his two starts, squaring off against number one LSU and 24th ranked Auburn in consecutive weeks.
Overall, he saw action in five games, going 18-39 for 206 yards, completing just 46.2 percent of his passes while throwing for two touchdowns against four interceptions. His two scoring throws were also likely his season highlights. Brissett tossed a 65-yard bomb to Andrew Dubose in the LSU game and accounted for Floridas only score with a six-yard flip to Quinton Dunbar in the regular season finale against FSU.
While Brissett was a highly regarded four-star prospect coming out of high school, Driskel was the number one rated quarterback in the nation. That translated into little in his first season.
Driskel actually saw early action, spelling Brantley in four of the Gators first five games, including as his injury replacement in the Alabama game. He would only see action in one more game though after his appearance against the Crimson Tide.
Driskel finished the 2011 campaign 16-34 for 148 yards, completing 47.1 percent of his passes while throwing for zero touchdowns against two interceptions.
Both Brissett and Driskel struggled on throws beyond ten yards, going 10-for-32 with one touchdown and five interceptions combined, according to ESPN's Stats & Information. Feeling the pressure after his unit finished 105th in the nation in total offense, Weis moved on to the head coaching job at Kansas.
Now Pease steps in with his motion scheme system to see if the Gators have a legitimate starter going forward. Each quarterback has scoured over tape of their offensive coordinators most successful pupil, Kellen Moore, to learn his offense.
So far, it has been a neck and neck battle between the two throughout spring practice and into the fall. While Muschamp was expected to name a starter by now, he may not do so until Sunday before the September 1st opener against Bowling Green.
In fact, despite the second year head coachs initial wishes, Florida may be force to extend the competition into the regular season. Going with a two quarterback system is not something neither Muschamp nor Pease prefers, but each have remarked in recent days that it is not out of the question.
Freshman Skyler Mornhinweg and redshirt sophomore Tyler Murphy are also quarterbacks under scholarship, but neither is expected to factor in in 2012. If anything, Mornhinweg could be the future answer if Brissett and Driskel falter this season.