GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida-South Carolina game will be a big one for Gators coach Jim McElwain and his staff.
Not only is the SEC East on the line, but it’s the biggest recruiting weekend of the season and a chance to make an impression on the prospects in attendance.
Here are the top five questions from this week:
How big of an issue is it for offensive commits to see how poorly the offense is performing? Specifically the WRs and QBs.
This may sound surprising, but those limitations actually appeal to most offensive recruits. They see it as an opportunity to play right away at a big-time program, and Florida has done enough good things under McElwain to show them the offense can be productive.
In 2015, Antonio Callaway set the school record for most receiving yards by a true freshman and Kelvin Taylor had a 1,000-yard season. This year, Florida has had a couple of 500-yard performances against SEC opponents and scored more than 40 points in both games.
There have still been more negatives than positives, but McElwain can sell the highlights to recruits. That success gives them confidence in the offensive system, but the struggles indicate that there’s still a lack of talent on the roster.
Does the lack of a productive QB for a second year hurt us recruiting other positions?
These guys are football players. They’re smart enough to understand the game and recognize a bad offensive situation when they see it. McElwain isn’t one to make excuses, but he was dealt a bad hand at quarterback and that has held back the offensive production and progression.
He had a capable starter in Will Grier and then lost him because of a rare suspension. Since Grier’s exit and eventual transfer, McElwain has been stuck at quarterback with a player unfit for his scheme, a former walk-on and a graduate transfer who couldn’t start at Purdue.
But Florida landed two promising passers last year in Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks, an Elite 11 finalist who could play during the final stretch of this season. The Gators also have 4-star quarterback committed in Jake Allen, so there is reason for optimism in the future.
Do you think we could potentially provide a huge spark to recruiting if Franks finished season?
(From @UFTroll_, @jonasty814)
A spark would only come if Franks has success, which could be difficult considering the defenses in the coming weeks. But should he show flashes at quarterback, that will certainly bode well for recruiting.
The Gators have been able to land dynamic offensive players such as Antonio Callaway, Tyrie Cleveland and Jordan Scarlett without a prolific passing game. Imagine what they could do with an attractive QB.
At this time, Franks appears to be the future of the position and the sooner you can show that to recruits the better. You also don’t want to play him too early and have it backfire, but coaches and players are confident Franks is ready.
Do you think we look for a JUCO QB? Specifically Stidham
(From @mikenowak32, @Tee_Hound5)
McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier could certainly go that route this offseason, and they’ve already targeted one player. Former Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett was contacted by Florida shortly after transferring from the Crimson Tide in late September.
Nussmeier recruited Barnett heavily when he was the OC at Michigan in 2014 and that relationship could help the Gators get in the mix. Barnett will reportedly take an official visit to Oregon this weekend.
Another option for UF is former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham. The former 5-star recruit worked with Nussmeier at an Alabama summer camp in 2013 and then received an offer from him when he took the job at Michigan.
What’s the status of Artur Sitkowski? Is he still favoring Florida?
The Gators are still in the driver’s seat for Sitkowski, the nation’s No. 4 pro-style quarterback for the Class of 2018. He named UF his No. 1 school in late September, just two months removed from his visit to the school.
He competed in Florida’s Next Level QB Camp and Friday Night Lights, and his two-day trip to Gainesville gave the Gators an early edge over Michigan, Miami, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
Sitkowski, who also holds offers from Ohio State and Ole Miss, is scheduled to make a commitment on June 1. He plans to visit UF again before his decision date.