Brissett and Driskell are pretty much in a dead heat right now and nobody inside the team or out can tell you who will start from game one. It is one of very few positions on the squad that doesn't have a definitive leader right now. Will Muschamp believes there could be a platoon system at quarterback if need be.
Muschamp says: "we obviously have a quarterback battle going on with Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel. Both guys are talented and qualified for the position. If you saw our spring game, you saw what I saw for 14 practices. Two guys that are very even in their competition. They're even going into fall camp. They'll get equal reps.
"I would like to name a starter before the season, but I'm not going to put a timetable on that. If we need to play both of them, that's what we're going to do. We're going to do what we need to do to win football games. Both guys have a similar skill set. So it's not like there's one offense we run with one and one with another, and there's a possibility you could see both in the game at the same time. But they're both guys that can contribute to our football team.
"Jeff and Jacoby have handled the competition very well. It's been good for our football team. Their competition has made our football team better. I'm pleased with how that has worked."
Bottom Line: I don't think there is any way they have a platoon system. Could both have a part in the game plan? Sure, but there will be one starting quarterback and they will likely make that decision about two weeks before the opener. Time will tell who it will be, but this could be the best intra-squad position battle in the SEC for 2012.
The biggest change in the offensive game planning from a year ago will be the utilization of the running back. Due to the size or lack of size of former starters Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey who have moved on due to graduation, Florida was unable to really use an inside running game in order to protect their health. That changes when the Gators now have a stable of runners all over 200 pounds and an offensive coordinator that is not going to limit practice reps to a couple of players at the position.
Mike Gillislee is the out right starter at the position and in the offseason Muschamp actually said he expects Gillislee to carry the ball between 150 and 200 times this fall. He has a real chance to be the first 1,000 yard running back at Florida since Ciatrick Fason in 2004, but he must stay healthy which has been an issue.
Mack Brown gets the slight nod at the number two spot and offensive coordinator Brent Pease has told a select few that he intends to get Brown involved in the offense this year. That remains to be seen. I wouldn't be shocked if junior Trey Burton (6-3, 227) or true freshman Matt Jones (6-3, 230) get enough snaps to be the second man out.
Muschamp says: "Mike Gillislee is a guy that I'm expecting to have a good senior season. He's a guy, because of his running style, will be more of an inside zone, two-back power lead team. He's a guy we're expecting to have a great year."
Bottom Line:It appears that it is very important that Mike Gillislee stay healthy. He probably has more overall tools than any running back at Florida in almost a decade.
If they actually are planning on using a bit of Mack Brown that can only mean good things about the sudden depth and size at the position. Burton can certainly run some plays at running back but is probably not the explosive guy you want there n every down. Jones is the dark horse here and if he returns to the form of his junior year in high school, he can be a real weapon as a freshman.
So. Hunter Joyer (5-10, 244)
Jr. Trey Burton (6-3, 227)
Hunter Joyer has a chance to be the best fullback in the conference and is only a sophomore. He actually is a weapon carrying the ball but his expertise is being the lead blocker for the guys behind him in the backfield.
Burton can be even more of a play maker at fullback because of the surprise factor that comes with that position not expected to carry the ball much.
Bottom Line:One would think that a fullback of Joyer's caliber would be a big weapon in Weis' offense a year ago but a lot of his blocking prowess was negated by all the outside running they had to do. I expect a big year from the sophomore. Joyer and Burton are very nice compliments at the position with different skill sets.
The above are your top four players at the position and Florida enters the season again without a real proven play maker at receiver. Debose is the closest thing to that, but in our opinion hasn't earned that starting nod and has to be more consistent to do so.
Hammond and Dunbar are the most reliable from a year ago and can do some things, both are supposed to be bigger and stronger than last year.
Patton had an excellent offseason and could very well be a threat in the slot position. However, Debose is the guy that has the most talent of the group and if he gets his head on straight can be a big difference maker.
The dark horse is true freshman Latroy Pittman who arrived in school early in January and came in with a chip on his shoulder after not being ranked considerably high as a high school prospect. Pittman was the best receiver of the entire spring and showed a penchant for making the big play in the limited time the public was allowed to watch practice.
Muschamp announced that junior receiver Stephen Alli had a stress fracture in his leg in the spring and should be ready to return to action in the middle of camp in August.
Bottom Line: The receivers are going to have to help the young quarterbacks. Hammond and Dunbar have enough experience to do so, and Dunbar has to show the flashes of brilliance we hear of behind the scenes when practices are closed.
A better work ethic from Debose could move him up the depth chart, giving him more catches and a break out year. You hate to put too much on a freshman, but Pittman seems mature and talented enough to accept that role. He also is physically mature for a kid in his first year of school.
The biggest roster news of the day for Florida came in the announcement that sophomore tight end A.C. Leonard will transfer and not be a part of the program any longer. It is a significant hit at a position with only one experienced player now and a team that was counting on Leonard to actually be a play maker at tight end this year.
Reed is physically talented and a lot of folks including myself forget he just played his first full season at the position after arriving at Florida as a quarterback. If he can harness his physical gifts and become a more complete tight end, he has a chance to be a great one and is already mentioned on the preseason Mackey Award list given to the nation's best college tight end.
Hines may have been the better slot at number two by himself but will play a lot of roles on offense given his skill set as a receiver and a running back. His versatility should allow him to be on the field a lot , much like Trey Burton.
Clay Burton is a bit of an unknown and hasn't done much of anything on offense in his career. He will be looking over his shoulder at the two freshmen that showed up on campus in June in Kent Taylor (6-6, 230) and Colin Thompson (6-5, 265), the #1 and #2 high school tight ends in the country according to FOX Sports NEXT.
Muschamp says: "We have Clay Burton rep in there, Omarius Hines will play a little of that position, move tight end and running back. We have the two freshmen coming in we're excited about. We moved Tevin Westbrook after spring to tight end. We have five scholarship guys at the position, which is what you need."
Botom Line:Reed will benefit greatly from his complete year at the position a year ago. SE all saw what he could do with the ball in his hand as a quarterback in 2010 and he has just had to learn to catch and run with it instead. Thompson and Taylor both have a chance to play huge roles and one will likely make it into the two-deep. Thompson has great size and will be the most legitimate blocker on the edge the Gators have at the position.
Jr. Jon Halapio (6-3, 325)
Fr. Jessamen Dunker (6-4, 313)
The offensive line returns almost three times as much experience as they had at the start of last season. The only loss along the line was Notre Dame transfer Dan Wenger who has graduated and moved on. Yet, their biggest asset will be depth if they just don't get banged up like a year ago.
If true freshman tackle Humphries lives up to his billing the Gators could start the season with four legitimate SEC starting tackles on offense. They played injured Nixon and Patchan throughout last year and by the end of the bowl game in Jacksonville, Florida had none of their slotted players at tackle on the field at that position.
Harrison and Halapio played pretty well most of the year inside and Wilson started the bowl game against Ohio State and really impressed.
More than anything the maturity and experience is big for the guys up front, and that is what this group will have.
Muschamp says: "Our offensive line is much improved from last year. We need to show you on game day. I've challenged our guys that. The receiver and tight end positions have improved. We have some guys that I think are ready to step up in their second year of starting and playing in the SEC."
Bottom Line:Nixon is up over 30 pounds from the end of last year and will be healthy to start camp after not being healthy all of last year. Harrison returns as the starter at center which hasn't happened in a few years. Halapio will be in his third year starting. Patchan and Nixon will be pushed by the very talented Green and even the rookie Humphries. All of these things really help make a successful offensive line.