McElwain

UF head coach Jim McElwain talks to his players after Florida's spring game on April 7, 2017, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Charles Hatcher / Alligator Staff

Florida coach Jim McElwain is a man with a plan — and that’s all he’s willing to say.

With under a week until the Gators’ season opener in AT&T Stadium, McElwain finally changed his answer to the oft-asked question of who will be the starting quarterback. In weeks’ past, Florida’s third-year coach has said that the competition is still playing out.

That he didn’t know which of the top three contenders — Feleipe Franks, Luke Del Rio and Malik Zaire — would play Saturday against Michigan, and that he didn’t even know if it would be one guy or a combination of the three.

On Monday, he answered differently for the first time.

“The quarterback situation, we have a plan,” McElwain said. “I’m not going to tell you what it is, so there’s no reason to ask.”

That’s probably the closest thing to an answer Florida fans will get until Saturday. And it’s the answer many expected. McElwain doesn’t have a real incentive to announce his decision, especially when Michigan has been just as ambiguous about its game plan. Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh hasn’t even released his team’s roster, let alone who he plans to start at quarterback.

“I have not heard Florida announce who their starting quarterback will be,” Harbaugh said Monday. “We’d love to have that information. So we’re not announcing our starting quarterback.”

McElwain’s spoken about playing mind games and bluffing in the past weeks. So it looks like he’s trying to use the element of surprise to his advantage.

He said the Wolverines will have to prepare for both a running quarterback — a la Zaire — and a pocket passer. And that’s exactly what McElwain wants: for Michigan’s defense to have to split their QB preparations three ways.

McElwain also didn’t make clear whether he’s informed his players of his decision.

“They always know we have a plan,” he said. “There's a reason we do whatever we do in practice ... so they experience those type of situations so that when they come up, they're prepared.”

Receiver Josh Hammond, who will likely play a bigger role Saturday with the absence of last year’s leading pass catcher, Antonio Callaway, said McElwain hasn’t told him about the decision and insisted he isn’t curious.

“I think all the quarterbacks are ready,” Hammond said. “So whatever the plan is, I’m pretty sure we’ll be fine.”

Practices aren’t open to reporters this week, so it’s likely McElwain has decided on his starter and doesn’t want to take any chances of the news leaking before 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

“We’ll leave that for them to guess,” he said.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattB_727, or contact him at [email protected].

Matt Brannon the Alligator sports editor and has been working at the Alligator since fall of 2015. He also covers Gators football and is in his senior year at UF as a journalism major.