Will Muschamp confirmed yesterday the quarterback position is wide open in spring practice.
And the good news for Florida is that Jeff Driskel will be healthy and full-go for spring. Driskel will battle with early enrollee and top prospect Will Grier for the starting job.
Driskel broke his lower leg against Tennessee last September, but his rehab and recovery are coming along much faster than anticipated. Florida also moved spring practice back about a week, which helped Driskel get to a point where he can practice the entire spring.
And that’s huge, because Driskel’s status for spring was uncertain to doubtful. That meant he wouldn’t get acquainted to Kurt Roper’s new up-tempo offense, and he would be 15 practices behind.
If you look around the SEC next year, you’ll find a reoccurring theme: new quarterbacks. And while Driskel hasn’t lived up to his lofty expectations, he does have big-game experience and has seen live bullets in SEC games. Oh yeah, and he won 11 games in 2012. Driskel actually returns as a weathered veteran compared to other quarterbacks around the SEC.
Roper is installing an offense that fits Driskel’s abilities much better than Brent Pease’s. Florida was trying to make Driskel into AJ McCarron when his athletic ability may be better compared to someone like Nick Marshall. And we saw Gus Malzahn mold the offense around the strengths of his personnel. That’s what Florida is planning on doing.
Obviously, Driskel and the quarterbacks haven’t just been the problem.
Florida’s offense was a disaster, starting with the offensive line, injuries and void of homerun hitting personnel that all helped equate to the conference’s worst unit. New O-line coach Mike Summers should improve the offensive line play. Frankly, it can’t get any worse.
Florida returns several receivers with upside in Quinton Dunbar, Ahmad Fullwood, Demarcus Robinson and Andre Debose. The Gators also return a bevy of running backs in Kelvin Taylor, Mack Brown, Adam Lane, Valdez Showers and Matt Jones, and they added early enrollee and homerun threat Brandon Powell to the arsenal.
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But it all comes back to the quarterback position and Jeff Driskel, and new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper spoke yesterday about molding the offense to the strengths of the quarterback and personnel, via GatorSports.com.
“Our whole philosophy will be based on what the quarterback position is able to do; what the five offensive linemen are capable of doing and then who earns the right to get the football on the field,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is installing our offense.
“We’re going to find some playmakers who can produce yards and produce points with what we’re going to do offensively. I think the undertaking is like any undertaking.”
Another spring and a new offense could help Driskel turn the corner and help Florida maximize on his potential as a player, quarterback and athlete. Molding the offense around the strengths of the quarterback isn’t new and it isn’t taboo, but for the first time – finally – Florida will attempt to put Driskel in an offense that fits his strengths.
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