Looking ahead to Florida’s 2018 QB picture as fans ready for top prospect Matt Corral’s arrival
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It’s hard to levy any final verdicts on this Florida football season until the Gators get their shot at Georgia this week.
Sure, the Bulldogs are two-touchdown favorites and look like a legitimate national title contender while Florida figures to be fighting for bowl eligibility down the stretch.
But rivalry games can be unpredictable, and the Gators have certainly had Georgia’s number with wins in 21 of the last 27 meetings.
Nonetheless, some fans are simply ready to turn the page on this season and look to the future.
Two readers in particular contributed in that way to the latest Gators Mailbag Question of the Day.
Cody E. asks … “Does Corral start next year?
Andrew I. asks … “Mac has been riding Franks. Do you think he’ll favor him over Corral?”
Here’s the thing. While Florida fans should be unilaterally excited for top quarterback prospect Matt Corral’s arrival as an early enrollee this winter, we just don’t know how ready he’s going to be to compete for the job until he gets here.
And really, we won’t have a true sense until he goes through spring practice, competes in intrasquad scrimmages, plays in the spring game, etc.
But I do think the path is certainly wide open for him to walk in and potentially claim the job if he can prove himself quickly. At this point, he certainly looks like the Gators’ best hope for finding a program-changing QB to finally lift this molasses offense.
As Andrew notes, coach Jim McElwain has seemed stubbornly set on sticking with redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks despite any tangible game-to-game progress. But I don’t think that loyalty carries over beyond this season. I think it’s more him not wanting to give up on his guy in favor of a graduate transfer in Malik Zaire, who won’t be here next year.
I think he does not see any clear separation between Franks and Zaire, and therefore is placing the value on giving experience to the guy who might benefit the program in the future, even if it’s at the cost of the present.
But, ultimately, Franks has to do something with that experience.
He seemingly has a prime audition the rest of the way to prove himself, to take the steps he’s yet to reach, to give the coaches some reason to believe he’s fixing his flaws and can be a more productive passer in 2018.
If that doesn’t happen, I think the position is as wide open next season as it was this past offseason, spring and preseason.
Not being permitted to watch practice, it’s hard to know how freshman Jake Allen has progressed, but fair or not, he doesn’t boast the same kind of recruiting hype and profile as Corral. It’s unclear whether veteran Luke Del Rio will try one more comeback to potentially be a place-holder at the position.
But it’s easy to buy into the recruiting rankings that rate Corral as the No. 3 pro-style QB prospect in the country, the gaudy high school stats, the outgoing personality, etc., and believe that he simply brings more upside to the position than the other choices.
Time will tell, but I think he will have every opportunity to prove that very point to the coaches through the winter, spring and summer.
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