Jordan McPherson/SEC Country
Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier talks with quarterback Malik Zaire during practice.

WATCH: Florida QBs throw at practice Thursday as competition continues

Ryan Young

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida quarterback competition continues to play out behind the scenes, with no teammates willing to divulge any edge that may exist.

Graduate transfer Malik Zaire worked with the first-team offense in the opening “fastball” period Thursday, marking the second straight practice open to the media that he started with the 1s.

A handoff, a short completion to tight end DeAndre Goolsby on a rollout to his left and a loss of yards as the offensive line caved and the series was over.

Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks then ran the second-team offense through a similarly uneventful fastball period.

Beyond that, the portion of practice open to media was limited to simple throwing drills as usual (see video below).

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In the meanwhile, the rest of the Gators continue to field questions about their perspective on the quarterback battle between Zaire, Franks and 2016 starter Luke Del Rio.

“I think they have like a true competition back there. All those guys are competing to the best of their ability,” safety Nick Washington said. “They’re all making plays. They’re all putting balls where they need to be at, making it tough for us DBs to make plays on the ball. But they all kind of bring something different to the table, which makes them all unique.

“Luke is making the smart reads, really smart checks, doesn’t turn the ball over much. He knows who he wants to throw to and he kind of scans the defense before the play, pre-snap awareness. Malik, he’s ready to take off whenever, he extends plays. Scramble drill, he extends plays really well. And Feleipe as well, Feleipe extends plays. He’s looking to throw the long ball. He’s also making smart checks. Like I said, they’re all doing well and they all bring something different to the table.”

Fellow safety Jeawon Taylor, also speaking before practice Thursday, was equally tight-lipped about who might have an edge in the competition.

“Whoever wins the job deserves it. They’re great quarterbacks. We’ll win regardless whoever wins (the starting job),” he said. “All of them have great leadership. They’re pushing the offense to a whole other level.”

Behind the scenes, that is.

Here are other notes and observations from practice Thursday:

  • Left tackle Martez Ivey, who missed practice Monday (the most recent practice open to the media) with unspecified swelling, was back in with the first-team offensive line during the fastball period Thursday. With that, the unit was back to normal with Brett Heggie at left guard, T.J. McCoy at center, Fred Johnson at right guard and Jawaan Taylor at right tackle.
  • Freshman Marco Wilson, the younger brother of former Gators cornerback Quincy Wilson, continues to get work with the first-team defense, particularly at nickel. “He kind of reminds me of his brother a little bit,” Washington said. “He’s kind of physical on the line of scrimmage and he’s really knowledgeable. He knows what to do. He’s in the right place at the right time.”
  • Freshman C.J. Henderson worked with the 1s at cornerback along with senior Duke Dawson, with Wilson and Dawson appearing to alternate roles. Henderson, ranked No. 15 cornerback in the 2017 class by the 247Sports composite, lined up against star receiver Antonio Callaway, though he wasn’t targeted. Freshman Brian Edwards and senior Joseph Putu were the second-team corners.
  • Chauncey Gardner Jr. continues to line up at safety in the fastball periods, along with Washington.