Randy Shannon isn’t concerned with the past.
He knows he can’t undo Florida’s 3-4 start to the regular season. He knows he can’t erase its current three-game losing streak. He knows a trip to the SEC Championship Game is no longer on the table.
“I’ve just got to move forward,” Shannon said. “I can’t change any of those things right now.”
Promoted from defensive coordinator to interim head coach on Sunday in the wake of Jim McElwain getting fired by the University Athletic Association, Shannon is now tasked with making adjustments to a UF football team that has been vastly underwhelming.
Florida ranks 109th in scoring offense and 66th in scoring defense this season out of 130 FBS schools. For Shannon to help the Gators improve on both sides of the ball, he knows modifications need to be made, and that begins with a shakeup under center.
Shannon told reporters on Monday that he has reopened the competition at quarterback between redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks and graduate transfer Malik Zaire.
Franks has started six games this season and has completed 60 percent of his passes for 830 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions, while Zaire has made two appearances off the bench and has completed 52.2 percent of his passes for 142 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Although the offense has struggled to produce under Franks this fall, McElwain appeared unwilling to give Zaire an opportunity to play, shooting down questions on a weekly basis over whether he was considering making a change at the position.
But with Shannon now in charge, he said the team’s starter this Saturday against Missouri will be determined at this week’s practices, and said he’s looking for a player who will bring “energy” to the huddle.
“I think the more competitive guys are, you bring the best out of them,” he said. “When you can make guys compete in practice, you’re really going to find out what you’re going to get in the game.”
Shannon also said that he’ll be heavily involved with the offense as whole and said that he’ll meet with it every day to discuss a plan for that particular week’s game.
“When you have a defensive coach seeing things from how to attack you, you can learn a lot from that,” he said. “Whenever I go visit people, I go visit offensive guys. I don’t visit defensive guys. I visit offensive guys because you want to learn what they’re doing and not what you’re trying to get better at.”
Aside from Shannon having more control over the Gators’ offense, his promotion to interim head coach has also changed the alignment of the rest of UF’s staff.
Former defensive line coach Chris Rumph will now serve as the team’s defensive coordinator, while defensive quality control assistant Robb Akey has taken Rumph’s place coaching the defensive line.
“I got to be a part of the whole defense and offense and special teams,” Shannon said. “So promoting Chris Rumph, a guy who’s done it, that’s prepared for it, he’s ready to do a great job.”
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Florida associate coach Randy Shannon speaks to the media during the university's NCAA college football media day in Gainesville, Fla. on Aug. 5, 2016. Shannon is shaking things up as Florida's interim coach. The former Miami head coach replaced Jim McElwain and needed less than a day to make changes. Shannon opened up the quarterback job. He promoted Chris Rumph to defensive coordinator. And he elevated former Idaho head coach Robb Akey to defensive line coach. He also tweaked parts of practice and put an increased emphasis on special teams. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin, File)