The quarterback position at Florida has been one big question mark pretty much since Tim Tebow was slinging the ball around in 2009. Jim McElwain and company thought they had the answer in 2015 when Will Grier stepped up and did some good things, but Grier is now playing at West Virginia.
The questions remain, but there is some optimism, we’ll tell you what we think.
The Bad Stuff
If there is a position on the field that you would love to have experience it is at quarterback. Florida does have that in Luke Del Rio, but most feel right now that Del Rio won’t be taking the first snap under center when the season begins on September 2, in Dallas against Michigan. That likely means a redshirt freshman ( Feleipe Franks or Kyle Trask) will be at the helm against a Top 25 program away from him to open up the season.
Physically, there is nothing wrong with what Franks or Trask bring to the table, but we have no idea how they will react under fire and just how much they have absorbed in their year and a half on campus.
Possible Bright Side
One thing we know is that the quarterback position will have 10-11 guys around him that know what they are doing for the first time in three years. It has been an uphill battle to get talent and experience on offense and finally the gators have that everywhere except maybe the quarterback position. I think this is a factor that people underestimate in terms of everyone being on the same page more often than they have been in recent years.
Another possible positive could be the addition of Notre Dame transfer quarterback Malik Zaire. Nothing is set in stone just yet, but a lot of people believe that Zaire will transfer in and provide a little maturity and experience to the position in the fall. There are still some things to clear up for this to happen, but it is certainly a possibility.
A third factor is Del Rio. I am under the informed opinion that Del Rio played hurt even when we thought he wasn’t before going down in the North Texas game early in the season. Now he wasn’t exactly tearing things up at that point, but I am under the impression that he is much better than he showed and that an injury free Del Rio might be a viable option. I don’t think this is the scenario that will play out, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
The Good Stuff
I am going to mention again about the experience and talent around the quarterback. The skill positions are probably at a seven year high in terms of talent at Florida. Of course they haven’t shown that with the numbers they have produced, but the quarterback and offensive line play along with all the experience they have had to grow into have played a big factor in that. The talent on offense has exponentially grown and that should help the position a great deal.
We also know that Franks and Trask have arm talent. Both can really throw the ball. Both have shown a bit of athletic ability, and while neither would be recognized as a dual threat quarterback, both can move their feet and make a little bit of a play from nothing.
We also know that the staff wants to incorporate a dual threat option at quarterback. Freshman Kadarius Toney showed up in January and was an immediate play maker when he stepped on the field this spring. If Zaire comes in, he can provide that as well. Junior Dre Massey was set to do some of that a year ago and should be in full health and ready to go this fall, he is a really good option as well.
Questions abound, but so do optimism and talent. Can the rest of the offense around the quarterback position make enough plays until the quarterback can regularly be asked to do the same? I think this is the key to the offense in 2017. We’ll know more by the end of the day on September 2.