GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As Florida heads into the final week of spring practice before the Orange & Blue Debut on Friday night, the Gators may be gaining some clarity at the quarterback position.
How much clarity and what that means? Well, that’s not so clear.
“We should know a lot. I think it’s starting to sort itself out, and the natural question is, ‘Well, what’s sorting itself out?’ You’ll find out,” McElwain said Monday.
Redshirt freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask have been competing at the spot this spring with veteran quarterback Luke Del Rio sidelined while recovering from a pair of shoulder procedures.
With the offense coming off another frustrating season, the position is wide open.
Asked a follow-up as to what separation he sees between the two young quarterbacks, though, McElwain wasn’t providing any more clues.
“Yeah, we’re doing good,” he said.
Franks, a 4-star recruit from Crawfordville, Fla., who flipped from an earlier commitment to LSU, was ahead of Trask, a 3-star recruit from Manvel, Texas, on the depth chart last season, and at least from the limited portions of practice open to the media Franks looks to be working more with the first team during the game-simulation “fastball” period that starts each session.
But the spring game will no doubt provide more insight than McElwain was willing to on Monday.
He hasn’t specified what format the Gators will use for that showcase, though he did make clear the playbook will be vanilla because he knows season-opening opponent Michigan will be watching the SEC Network live broadcast.
Still, it’s a valuable evaluation opportunity.
“I think it goes back to really probably the quarterbacks as far as kind of now performing in front of people. You know, television audience, all the things that go along with it, and we’ll try to treat it as much as we can from a preparation standpoint as close to game-like,” McElwain said. “… It’ll be very limited. I don’t need Michigan to see what we’re doing different because they’ll obviously be watching it. Just like anymore, all these things, we’ll be fairly vanilla, and yet in being vanilla the good part is you see how guys play without the scheme piece of it.”
That said, it may be summer until any formal decisions are made.
McElwain emphasized that the spring game is far from the finish line of the quarterback competition, no matter what happens.
“It’s another opportunity. Is it the end all? Absolutely not,” he said. “We have a body of work, plus what we do over the summer and into fall camp. There again, it’s another opportunity and that’s the way it’s got to be approached. I will say I’m excited how they’re playing. It’s been good, we’ve been able to stretch it really good.”
Florida ran through another closed scrimmage on Friday, and as he noted, McElwain was pleased with the quarterbacks’ performance in the session after mentioning some sloppiness in the previous scrimmage.
He also shared that true freshman Kadarius Toney, who has been taking snaps at quarterback as well and could be used in some specialized packages to take advantage of his speed, had “some explosive runs” with the second-team offense. At which point the defense loaded the box and forced him to throw the ball instead, McElwain added.
“(I) felt we made some real strides in some areas as far as taking care of the football, especially in the passing game,” he said Monday. “Eliminated some drops. Thought some guys came up with some explosive plays, which was good. Both quarterbacks had their moments of really moving the club, and I thought that was good to see, especially down in the red area. Thought Feleipe got better down there. Late on one throw, but was able to see it and get it off and get another touchdown pass, which was good to see.”