The uncertainty surrounding the Florida football team’s quarterback situation is almost as murky as Jim McElwain’s prospects of ever landing another head coaching job.
While fans hoped a leader in the quarterback race would reveal himself during the Gators’ Orange and Blue Game on Saturday, there still isn’t clear-cut favorite for the starting position come September.
The Florida football team filled Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with fun on Saturday afternoon.
The three likely candidates — Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Emory Jones — each had their shining moment but also had some plays they wished they could have back. Here’s a look at how each one did in the spring game.
While Franks failed to throw a legitimate touchdown on Saturday — he threw a 60-yard bomb to former Gator Travis McGriff late in the second quarter — he did run for two.
The first was on a 60-yard dash where he broke through the grasp of the Blue team’s defenders at the line of scrimmage. The second came at the goal line, where Franks faked a hand-off to running back Lamical Perine and ran it in himself.
Aside from his production on the ground, Franks had the highest completion rate of the three quarterbacks. He finished the game connecting on 8-of-12 passes for 117 yards.
But as good as his numbers were, when Franks did miss a pass, it was usually due to poor judgement.
On one play, receiver Van Jefferson was wide open on the right side of the field. Franks noticed him a bit too late but threw the ball anyway. By that time, defensive back Donovan Stiner had caught up to Jefferson and broke the pass up.
Franks is the only quarterback on the roster to have appeared in a college game before and has been using that experience to help further his play.
“I think that's one of the things that has made it easier for me this spring is just being more comfortable,” Franks said. “Just being comfortable in the pocket.”
Trask’s throwing ability was on full display on Saturday.
Midway through the second quarter at the 26-yard line, the redshirt sophomore threw a 19-yard bullet to wide receiver Rick Wells that resembled a dart finding a bullseye. That pass set up a 7-yard touchdown run by Jordan Scarlett the next play.
Throws like that came often for Trask, who ended the day with the most completions of any quarterback. He went 12 for 24 on the day and threw for a team-high 178 yards. He also didn’t throw a legitimate touchdown — same situation as Franks.
While his throws looked the best of the three quarterbacks due to the zip he had as he released the ball, his inexperience showed on Saturday. He overthrew receivers at times and almost threw a handful of interceptions.
Despite his struggles with accuracy, Trask believes his performance could be enough to earn him the starting role.
“I feel like I showed a lot more maturity at the quarterback position with my hard work and determination to get better,” Trask said.
Toward the end of the first half, fans got their first look at Jones, one of the biggest recruits in the Gators’ 2018 freshman class.
The performance that ensued was the textbook definition of inconsistent.
Jones had his moments, like a 58-yard touchdown pass to tight end R.J. Raymond in the second quarter and a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kemore Gamble in the third quarter.
He also had some plays that showed just how much he needs to learn. Jones threw the only interception of the game, a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and fell into the hands of walk-on linebacker Jahim Lawrence.
At the end of the day, Jones had the most passing touchdowns of any quarterback that played. His throwing, though, wasn’t as strong. He finished going 3-of-7 for 93 yards.
Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake or contact him at [email protected].