Ask a Florida or LSU fan to describe the offensive struggles for their beloved team in recent seasons, and their first words are likely to be about the level of quarterback play at their respective schools.
Former Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier isn’t necessarily buying into that narrative. During a recent interview with ESPN 104.5-FM in Baton Rouge, the Head Ball Coach cautioned against placing too much blame on the quarterbacks who have put out less-than-impressive stat lines in Baton Rouge and Gainesville during the last few years.
“Oh, I don’t exactly know all that’s happening out there,” Spurrier said in response to a question about quarterback struggles at LSU in recent seasons. “Florida has said the same thing for three years here. It seems like when then offense isn’t very good, they blame it on the quarterback. I used to always think maybe the quarterback is as good as the guys around him, and whoever is coaching him, and the ball plays and this that and the other. It all goes together.”
Spurrier went on to back up his comments on the quarterback really not being the focal point for the overall success or failure of a college offense by going back in time and referencing his success at Duke prior to his runs at Florida and South Carolina.
“I think that was the big reason our teams had a lot of success, especially up at Duke University,” Spurrier said of focusing on the complete offensive package. “We led the conference every year in offense during the three years I was there, and we had actually four different quarterbacks who played. We had a starter in 1987, a different one in 1988 and actually two played in the 1989 year that we won the ACC.
“When you’ve got good players all around, you’ve got a good system and these guys are well-coached and practice extremely well, then you’ll have success on the field. Everybody is different. Coaching is different. A lot of people think the players decide the game, but really the plan and the way they are coached on the practice field is extremely important.”
Spurrier went to the “coaching” and “game plan” well a couple of times there. And while he stayed away from getting specific, one has to wonder if the Head Ball Coach was taking a low-key dig at the production of coaching staffs directed by Jim McElwain, Les Miles and Ed Orgeron.
LSU averaged 203.5 yards passing per game in 2017, which was a noticeable improvement from the 190.1 mark posted in 2016. Florida, meanwhile, slid from 215.8 yards passing in 2016 to 175.9 during McElwain’s final season.
It’s also probably a good time to point out a couple of facts on Spurrier. One, he was a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback himself. And two, he was never shy about swapping out quarterbacks within his offensive system. At one point he was rotating former Gators quarterbacks Doug Johnson and Jesse Palmer on a play-by-play basis.
That said, Spurrier’s thoughts are worth considering the next time you want to hurl insults in the direction of Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask or Myles Brennan this fall.