Well folks, that didn’t work.
After weeks of speculation and clamoring from fans for Florida to make a change at the quarterback position, not much looked different for the Gators’ offense on Saturday afternoon against Missouri.
Malik Zaire made his first start of the year in place of the struggling Feleipe Franks, completing 13 of 19 passes for 158 yards, but UF still only managed to muster 16 points against a Tigers team that’s allowed an average of 35.8 points per game.
Nothing improved for Florida despite the switch under center. It still had problems getting into the end zone. It still had problems sustaining drives. It still had problems limiting its penalties.
The bottom line: It was still the same.
And given the fact that Florida is now 3-5 — its worst record through eight games since 1979 — there is absolutely no reason to give Zaire another opportunity to start this fall.
There’s nothing to be gained from it.
The Gators are well out of the College Football Playoff race, were eliminated from SEC title contention last week and appear less and less likely to receive a bowl invitation in the wake of their current four-game losing streak.
The only thing UF has left to look forward to is its future, one that Zaire won’t be a part of with 2017 serving as his final year of college eligibility.
While the graduate transfer has shown flashes of the dynamic playmaking abilities he put on display at Notre Dame, every snap he takes from now until the end of the season is one less opportunity for Franks, a redshirt freshman, to gain experience.
There’s no guarantee Franks will be Florida’s starter next year, especially with four-star quarterback Matt Corral expected to join the fray, but his continued development as a viable option for the Gators under center is still important nonetheless.
Playing Zaire in UF’s final three games this fall will only get in the way of Franks growth. If I’m Randy Shannon, I don’t have a choice.
Malik Zaire shouldn’t see another second on the field for the rest of his career as a Florida Gator.
Dylan Dixon is the Alligator’s assistant sports editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Malik Zaire made his first start of the year in place of Feleipe Franks, completing 13 of 19 passes for 158 yards in Saturday's 45-16 loss to Missouri in Columbia.