GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida will likely have a first-time starter at quarterback in the season opener for the third consecutive year under coach Jim McElwain.
Regardless of who wins the QB race, both of them would be taking their first career snap against Michigan on Sept. 3. However, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier doesn’t believe their inexperience and youth will hold back his unit.
“No,” he said bluntly Tuesday. “Why should it? Last time I checked, greatness wasn’t defined by age or experience.”
Franks and Trask are the first quarterbacks McElwain and Nussmeier evaluated, recruited and handpicked as prep prospects to run their offensive system at Florida. Nussmeier is confident that both players can get the job done.
“You talk about guys that have the right characteristics from the physical standpoint and the mental side of things, the way they conduct themselves, the type of people they are,” Nussmeier said. “That’s important. You look at the guys that play the position, you gotta take a lot on your plate. Not only just Xs and Os and understanding reads and progressions.
“There’s a lot that goes into this thing on a day-to-day basis dealing with what you get from the outside world as far as the expectations and those type of things. When we met with these kids and had them on campus, I had a chance to really sit down and evaluate them as players, you find out that we really liked what we had from a complete package.”
This is also the third year in a row that Florida has a quarterback battle. Will Grier and Treon Harris competed for the starting job in 2015. Then came transfers Austin Appleby and Luke Del Rio last season.
Nussmeier doesn’t have concerns about the competition between Franks and Trask becoming nasty or dividing the team.
“The No. 1 thing is the example that they got from the two guys that were ahead of them last year in Austin and Luke,” Nussmeier said. “I can’t say enough about what those guys did as veteran players. It’s one thing to come from a coach, but when you can actually have that leadership in a room that shows young players how to prepare and they get to see, ‘Wow, this guy is in here doing extra and coach isn’t just lying when he says you need to do extra to be able to perform at a high level.’
“With the 20-hour rule, we’re not able to spend as much time as we would like and players have to do it on their own. That validates what you’re trying to instill in young players. I think those two older guys, Luke and Austin, did one tremendous job. It showed Kyle and Feleipe, as they watched those two compete, that you can compete the right way and help each other get better everyday.”