GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida offensive lineman Fred Johnson said that at the start of camp he had an expectation for how the Gators’ quarterback competition would go.
But now, less than two weeks from the season opener against Michigan, he’s not so sure.
“I’m very curious. I’m not going to lie to you, I have no idea who’s going to be the guy. But when a guy is chosen, I want to see if it’s kind of the thoughts that I had beforehand,” he said after practice Tuesday.
“I had an idea in mind, but now I don’t know because everybody’s playing well and doing what they’ve got to do. So I just want to see. … It’s closer than what I expected.”
That seems to be the takeaway this preseason as redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks, graduate transfer newcomer Malik Zaire and 2016 starter Luke Del Rio continue to compete for the starting job.
The last time coach Jim McElwain met with reporters, last Friday, he said it was “tough to say” if there was a leader in the competition.
He was also asked about the advantage of not making an announcement until later to keep Michigan’s coaching staff guessing as well. He mostly dismissed that element, and while it may well be a part of the delayed decision, it’s clearly not the only reason.
“All three of them have been doing a hell of a job,” offensive lineman Tyler Jordan said Tuesday. “They’ve all stepped up to the challenges the coaches have given them, kind of in the change-of-pace situations at practice. But they’ve all been doing well. I’d be happy with any of them out there.”
Del Rio worked with the first-team offense in the opening “fastball” period Tuesday, but it wasn’t a 1s vs. 1s situation as the coaches mixed the units up and had the second-team defense going against the top offense.
Zaire worked with the second-team offense going against the first-team defense and had a highlight play when he faked a pitch to Mark Thompson, rolled to his left and threw a sideline pass to Dre Massey in between defensive backs Chauncey Gardner Jr. and Shawn Davis.
Again, though, the quarterbacks have continued to rotate through the first team so that arrangement at the start of practice Tuesday was not a statement on Franks or any of the QBs for that matter.
Wide receiver Freddie Swain was also asked for his take on the QBs after practice.
“I ain’t got one clue,” he said.
(Here’s video of the quarterbacks and wide receivers during individual drills, with Del Rio, Kyle Trask and Jake Allen on the near side of the field and Franks and Zaire on the far side.)
Other observations from practice Tuesday:
- Cornerback C.J. McWilliams (hamstring) was again stretching on his own off to the side before practice.
- The secondary for the first-team defense during the fastball drill remained the same with Duke Dawson and Joseph Putu at cornerback, Gardner and Davis at safety and Marco Wilson as the nickel.
- In the three-linebacker alignment, Vosean Joseph, David Reese and Jeremiah Moon were the first-teamers. Kylan Johnson has been slowed this preseason by a hamstring injury.
- Freshmen C.J. Henderson and Brian Edwards were the corners on the second-team defense with sophomore Jeawon Taylor and freshman Donovan Stiner at safety. Senior Cristian Garcia and redshirt sophomore Rayshad Jackson were at linebacker, and Antonneous Clayton and Zachary Carter were at defensive end.