Weis Uncertain of Starting Quarterback

Despite what has been expected all week, Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said no decision has been made about a quarterback for Saturday's showdown with LSU. Jeff Driskel has been the backup quarterback this season, but Jacoby Brissett and Tyler Murphy will get their chance at the starting position this week. Weis has designed a game plan fit for any of the three quarterbacks to run.

"I'm going objectively," Charlie Weis said after Tuesday's practice. "I'm going at it like that just because Jeff has played and the other two guys haven't played. Jeff obviously has the upper hand because he has played and the other guys haven't played meaningful football yet. The other two guys are getting reps, too."

There's a chance that two quarterbacks see action in Baton Rouge, but Weis said it was unlikely all three would get in the game. As the week of practice continues, the offensive staff will start to make decisions on who will see the field. Weis said the key is to get it figured out by Thursday, so that the one or two quarterbacks that will be involved can get the appropriate amount of reps in practice.

Weis cautioned from just assuming that Jeff Driskel would get the nod. Jacoby Brissett and Tyler Murphy have made strides during fall practices, and he wants to keep an open mind going into Florida's toughest road test of the season.

"I feel a lot better now than doing it last week in the game," Weis said about throwing an inexperienced quarterback into the game. "You devise a game plan around John, and when John goes down, you have to cut back what you're doing. Now, knowing that John is out for this week, you can devise a game plan around less experienced guys."

Driskel suffered a minor setback during the Alabama game when he sprained an ankle. Muschamp said on Monday that it wasn't an issue, and Weis hesitated to answer a question about how Driskel looked before saying it wasn't his territory to answer the question.

If Brissett or Murphy needs to step in, Weis feels confident with the game plan that is in place.

Murphy has been on campus the longest out of the three quarterbacks, but even that only streches back to last season.

"His biggest asset over the other guys is a year of experience," Weis said. "Being in a college football program for a year, be it a different offense, gives him a bit of an upper hand because he has been around more."

Brissett has plenty of talent, but he is held back by not being on campus when the offense was installed during spring practice.

"The reason Jacoby hasn't been a factor up to this point is because he came here in the summer time," Weis said. "He had to play catch up. The other guys were here in the spring when we put everything in, and I think that's the only thing that kept Jacoby from being possibly the second guy in. I don't know how it would've played out if he was here in the spring time, but he wasn't."

Whoever lines up under center for Florida on Saturday will be running a simplified version of the offense.

"The best thing for this week is that everything is being tailor made around these guys," Weis said. "You don't add morel; you cut back. You get them used to the things he's comfortable doing. You don't expose him to as much material, which gives him a lot more confidence."

The injury to John Brantley came at the worst time for the senior. He was in the midst of playing what looked to be the best game of his career. Weis didn't hesitate to say that he thinks Brantley will play again this season. That doesn't save any heartbreak for Weis after watching Brantley be forced out of a game where he threw the ball so well.

"With the exception of the interception, where he didn't ever see the guy, he threw 16 passes, completed 11 and had three dropped balls," Weis said. "He was 14-for-16 against that defense. That's what real quarterbacks look like. He was stepping up in the pocket, shuffling a little to the left, shuffling a little to the right and making the big throw down the field that everyone said he couldn't make.

"Then he steps up and hits that crossing route to Deonte that was his fourth read on the play. The one thing I liked the most is that when the (interception) happened, I said three words to him when he came off the field—"short term memory." He came back and we went on a two-minute drive and went right down the field. He never lost his cool. It was pretty easy to see he expected to play a good game."

With the simplified offense for a young quarterback this weekend, the offense needs to run the football better than it did against Alabama. Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey combined to carry the ball 14 times for eight yards. The Crimson Tide won the line of scrimmage by getting penetration often with just its defensive line and allowing the linebackers to cover the edges on the outside runs.

"Anytime you have a fairly inexperienced quarterback, you need to take the pressure off him by being able to run," Weis said. "Last week, it was a combination of things, but number one was that they won the line of scrimmage. When you lose the line of scrimmage, you usually aren't going to be very effective in the run game, whether inside or outside.

"We've got to win the line of scrimmage on Saturday. If we don't, we'll be in for a long day."

The LSU defense provides plenty of problems for Florida. The secondary is one of the best in the country, but it's the defensive line that the Gators must control to get the run game started and take some of the pressure off a young starting quarterback.

"They're faster, but they're not as big (as Alabama)," Weis said. "They're more in the 250-260 (pounds) range. They're fast. They have very good speed up front, but they're also deep up front. They play three or four guys inside and outside, but they're outside guys can slide in during nickel so they can rush. They're very formidable with those front seven or eight guys they play in the front four."

Going into one of the toughest places in the country to play with a quarterback that will make his first career start isn't an envied position for Florida to be in. Communication is already expected to be an issue with a quarterback that hasn't played in a big game this season when it was manageable. The crowd noise will only make that tougher.

However, Weis has found a positive in that. He is playing the underdog card for the team.

"It gives us the ‘us against the world mentality,'" Weis said. "What are we going to sit here and say, ‘yeah, I guess we should just not go.' We had a very good practice for a Tuesday. I was very pleased. Everyone knows that part of their responsibility with Brantley out is everyone has to pick up some of the slack. There isn't just one guy that brings it up."

Besides a running game, having a go-to wide receiver would also make things easier for the young starting quarterback on Saturday. Weis is hoping Andre Debose can develop into that.

He had a great week of practice before the Alabama game, and that fueled the coaches' trust in drawing up a 65-yard touchdown pass from Brantley to Debose to open the game.

"The arrow has been pointing up on Andre for about a month," Weis said. "He had a slow start and didn't have a great training camp. He has tons of ability and the ability to be a front line, top line wide receiver, but he's got to show you evidence of that.

"You don't go by reputation. That's the good thing Will has done since he has been here. People don't play off reputation. Some people flat line, some go down, but for him, the arrow has been pointing up."

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