This is not a brand new concept, particularly at the University of Florida where Steve Spurrier alternated Doug Johnson and Noah Brindise nearly every play when the Gators upset Florida State, 32-29, in 1997, preventing the Seminoles from playing for the national championship. The two-quarterback system might not seem ideal in most quarters, but you go with what works in college football. Two quarterbacks worked just fine for Kurt Roper at Duke and no matter how much you hear that Jeff Driskel is THE man from the Florida coaching staff, odds are the Gators will be playing two this fall. That doesn’t mean quarterbacks will split time, but there is a real chance that a second quarterback will get some meaningful snaps in nearly every game.
Take a look at the last three seasons at Duke. In 2011, Sean Renfree (now playing in the NFL) threw for 2,882 yards but freshman Anthony Boone was on the field enough to throw for 307 yards and rush for another 129 and four touchdowns. Renfree was a true pocket passer and Boone was the change-up guy but the system worked. In 2012, Renfree threw for 3,113 yards but Boone attempted 94 passes, threw for 531 yards and ran for another 82. Last season, Boone split the time with Brandon Cornette. Boone threw for 2,260 yards and ran for 214 while Cornette threw for 1,212 and ran for 337. Between the two of them, they accounted for 26 passing touchdowns and 16 rushing (14 by Cornette).
Given Driskel’s injury history – he’s coming off a season-ending broken leg in 2013 and missed games with injuries in both 2011 and 2012 – and Roper’s appreciation for a change of pace quarterback, it seems inevitable that the Gators will go with some sort of two quarterback system. Based on the past, you can’t trust Driskel to make it through the season without going down with some injury so it’s very likely that Roper will start working in the backup from game one. The only question is which of the three backups will see the field?
There is Skyler Mornhinweg, who got a couple of starts at the end of last season and looked good in the spring; freshman Will Grier who was a mix of good and bad moments in the spring; and freshman Treon Harris, who some folks in Miami say will be the most prepared freshman quarterback in the nation. Mornhinweg has a good arm and experience but he is the least mobile of the three and Roper wants dual threat quarterbacks. Grier is skinny and has continually stated he would really like to redshirt and use the year to add weight and get stronger. Harris is smallish (5-11, 178) but he won back-to-back state championships as the starter for Miami’s Booker T. Washington and he is seriously elusive in the open field.
Don’t expect any of the backups to challenge Driskel for a starting job. Unless Driskel gets hurt or plays atrociously, he will start, but Roper’s history at Duke tells us he will play a second quarterback and have someone ready to go at all times.
Nothing has changed over the years they’ve held SEC Media Days in Birmingham. When Steve Spurrier takes the podium the room is packed because you never know what the old ball coach is going to say. Here are some snippets from Tuesday.
About Nick Saban at Alabama: “I think they’ve had five number one recruiting classes out of the last six years which has got to make him the greatest recruiter in the history of college football. Arguably, they’ve got the greatest collection of football players ever assembled for a college team if the recruiting services are correct and they’re pretty much correct.”
How he chose to coach at South Carolina: “Some people ask, ‘How did you end up there.’ I said, I was available and they were the only ones who offered me a job the end of 2004. I wanted to coach again. I wanted to go out a winner, not a loser. Fortunately, South Carolina was really the best opportunity I could ever ask for. It was a school, you could probably describe their football tradition as mediocre. They had a losing record, way under .500 in SEC games. Nowhere to go but up.”
The commitment of quarterback Dylan Thompson: “Well, he wasn’t a highly recruited guy so he didn’t get into all that bullcrap that most of them get. He came to our summer camp one day and I saw him running around and throwing and I asked him, ‘If I offered you a scholarship, would you commit now or go tell everybody you got an offer and try to go somewhere else?’ And he said, ‘Coach, if you’re offering me a scholarship I’m committing right now.’ I said, ‘Well, you got an offer.’”
The first three years coaching at Florida: “The difference, when I got to Florida in 1990, the team was already there. There was no recruiting to be done for about two years. So the first two years we finished first in the SEC, won it. Weren’t eligible the first year but the team was there. They were ready to play, offense, defense. We found Shane Matthews, the quarterback. The third year we short of had a bunch of young guys that hadn’t played much before. That was one of the most fun years I’ve had in coaching, ’92. We finished 9-4 I think overall. Alabama beat us in the championship game in that close one here in Birmingham, but those guys really achieved a lot for a couple of true freshmen playing offensive tackle for us, really a bunch of young guys that year. They went on and won a bunch after that, also.”
The NCAA is investigating Oklahoma State’s football program but this is a case that could turn out to be a real stain on the integrity of Sports Illustrated. Last year, Sports Illustrated did a five-part series about NCAA rules breaking in the Oklahoma State program, none of which involved current players or coaches. ESPN has since reported numerous inaccuracies in the SI report that implicated former coach Les Miles and former players, all of whom have denied the allegations. Additionally, John Talley, named by SI as an out of control booster, has filed suit against the magazine claiming its allegations were “false, lacked factual basis and were printed and published with actual malice.” To its credit, Oklahoma State hired former NCAA official Charles Smrt to conduct an internal investigation to do an extensive internal report. If the internal report and the ongoing NCAA investigation turn up evidence of wrong doing, it will be a huge black eye for Sport Illustrated, a magazine that is a mere shell of what it used to be.
Emmanuel Mudiay, arguably the best point guard among incoming freshmen for the next college basketball season, announced that he will forego college basketball at SMU to go play in Europe. He was projected to be a lottery pick – perhaps even the first pick – in the 2015 NBA Draft. Mudiay is trying very hard to sell this as if he came to the conclusion that he will be better prepared for the NBA by going to Europe. In reality, there is every chance the NCAA was never going to let him play a game because there are all sorts of whispers that Mudiay and his handlers are as dirty as it gets.
Anyone who actually believes that LeBron James returned to Cleveland because he loves northeast Ohio so much needs to read the ESPN story by Brian Windhorst, “LeBron’s Money Move” which makes a fairly strong case that LeBron was driven totally by money ... If they gave out an award for worst general manager of the month it would go to Houston’s Daryl Morey, who traded Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin and then didn’t match the Dallas offer for Chandler Parsons. All that for Trevor Ariza. Rockets head coach Kevin McHale needs to find a new team with a new general manager ... David Price says he really and truly wants to stay with the Tampa Bay Rays. Do you actually believe that? ... The Saints made Jimmy Graham the highest paid tight end in the NFL. He’ll make $21 million the next two years. Not bad for a guy who played basketball at Miami ... Dwayne Wade signed with Miami for two years and $34.1 million ... Former Gator Mike Mille signed with the Cadavers to play alongside old buddy LeBron. No shock there ... With Auburn’s Nick Marshall facing punishment for a marijuana citation, don’t be shocked if the SEC media votes Dak Prescott of Mississippi State as its preseason All-SEC quarterback. And, if you’re looking for a team that could shock the world in the SEC West, look no further than Mississippi State. Prescott is good enough to be the difference-maker.
Every year, sometime around the All-Star break, Pete Rose does his best to convince people that he belongs in baseball’s Hall of Fame. There is no doubt his 4,256 hits mean he should be there, but does he deserve the Hall of Fame after gambling on the game while serving as the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, then lying about it to investigators and the commissioner of baseball? Rose’s latest pitch is that he never used performance enhancing drugs and did nothing to alter the statistics of baseball the way guys like Bobby Bonds or Sammy Sosa did. Although Rose is correct in that statement, it’s doubtful anyone is going to be swayed. At some point I think he will make the Hall of Fame, just not while he’s alive to enjoy the moment.
Do you think Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame or should he be forever banned?
The music for today comes from the California band Young the Giant, which was introduced to me by board member drbipolar. Today’s song is “It’s About Time” from their 2014 album “Mind Over Matter,” which was released last October and made it all the way to #2 on the Billboard rock albums chart.