Spring Preview: Quarterbacks

The good news is that Florida returns their starting quarterback. The bad news is that Jeff Driskel wasn't exactly all-world last year. The promising part is that Driskel has shown flashes of brilliance and ability. But, if he gets hurt, which he has missed parts of two seasons now due to injury, there are only questions behind him. Questions Florida would like to get answered this spring.

Chris Leak is the last quarterback to finish a season at Florida without missing at least part of a game due to injury. That 2006 national championship that was his last game was seven years ago which seems like quite a long time. So, the importance of not only a steady, sturdy, and healthy starter and a backup quarterback that can be counted on is something that can't be measured.

These are the things we will be looking at with the quarterback position this spring. Here are the scholarship quarterbacks we have to work with.

Jeff Driskel (JR, 6-4, 236), Tyler Murphy (JR, 6-2, 206), Skyler Mornhinweg (6-2, 208)

Driskel is no doubt the starter and he might have to lose an appendage to lose that spot. For him it is all about the mental part of the game. He has all the p0hysical tools to throw every NFL throw there is. He can run with some of the SEC's better running backs. He may lack some touch on the ball at times, but he does show touch at other times. Still, it is everything that happens before the snap and with the defense in motion that matters when we talk Jeff Driskel.

This has been his best off-season at working at that part of the game.

"Jeff's really attacked the offseason from a mental standpoint as far as film is concerned and really studying what he can do to be a better quarterback," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday about his starting quarterback "That's part of the maturation process in becoming a better player is understanding what you've got to do to be successful.

Muschamp cited a few things going against Driskel a year ago, namely the fact he was in his first year of starting at the position in the nation's best conference.

I think the game continues to slow down for you… first year as a full-time starter, first year in a scheme and system, the terminology, and now you're not splitting reps 50-50, so he's going to get all the turns and all the reps with the same people, which I think obviously will help us in some throwing game issues.

Muschamp believes things will come easier for Driskel just from being in the heat of battle.

Year two in the system… the game slows down a little bit," he said. "(You get) a better understanding of the protection, a better understanding of where the ball needs to go, where you're protected and where you're not protected. I think those are the things as much as anything it's going to help him to understand that. The passing game concepts vs. middle field and vs. split safety, where to take the ball. So all of those things, again, that's easy to talk about but when it's happening in front of 90,000 people against some of the people we play against, it's a fast, fast game."

Muschamp feels Driskel can really use the 15 practices that Florida is allowed to have this spring.

"It's huge," he said of the time on the field. "You look at the opportunity of going against live bullets, whether it's in skeleton, whether it's in team periods, all of the situational work we do, moving the field, it's a critical time to be able to get the cohesiveness he needs with the receiving core, the running backs, the protections, all of those things as we start trying to narrow down what we're going to be."

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease says a lot of the offense has to fall on Driskel's shoulders starting now.

Driskel can do a lot of things with the ball.

"We've got to be a better throwing team and that starts with him. A lot of that when we went back in the off-season, this kid is invested a lot now and up to this point of getting back and watching film. And a lot of it is based around understanding the protections a lot better and when he has to get rid of the ball and where he has to see his reads."

Pease also believes that because he will get most of the snaps this spring, it will greatly benefit him in the fall. With Driskel knowing he is the guy, Pease believes he will be less hesitant to ask questions.

"I think it'll benefit him a ton," the Gators second year coordinator said. "Something I found out going back, there's something both of them really, him and Jacoby, when they're in there competing maybe weren't as honest as always they said they were, 'Hey, I got this. I know this.' There's a little bit more after we went back and assessed and I kind of re-asked some questions and there was some, 'Coach what do you mean by that?' I think they maybe hid some things a little bit. Not mischievously but just in a learning factor of trying to know it all. Some of its going to be the volume of what they understand, the language of what they understand, the terminology is going to be so much easier to move along and not have to question that they actually understand what's being said. Now it's time for them to go out and react a lot faster."

Behind Driskel are two guys that frankly we just don't know much about. Murphy and Mornhinweg will be battling it out for that second spot. Murphy is purported to be the better athlete of the two and Mornhinweg is the son of an NFL offensive coach, so you could argue he could have more of the mental preparation as an advantage. This spring will go a long way in determining what they can do.

"We need somebody to step up at the backup quarterback position," Muschamp said. "Tyler and Skyler will have multiple opportunities throughout spring to be in those situations and step forward for us and be a dependable backup for us."

Pease seems unsure of which of the two will make that move on the depth chart this spring… or actually if they will.

"I've talked to them and those guys have to step (up)," Pease said. "They're going to get good reps and we'll see who can compete. If they can't we have a young guy coming in, Max Staver, and we'll have to assess the situation after the spring."

Murphy has patiently awaited his turn, but it is time for him to be impatient

Fightin Gators Top Stories