It’s not unheard of for colleges to play two quarterbacks on occasion. We recently saw it at Ohio State with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones both getting snaps after their national championship season. Especially in the collegiate game, it’s a gameplan that is enacted much more than the pros as different quarterbacks can provide defenses with different looks. Sometimes that means two quarterbacks that can bring different strengths to a passing game or using one quarterback who’s more effective on the ground and one more effective in the air.
No school has quite the history of this as Florida does. Steve Spurrier used the strategy in the 1997 season with Doug Johnson and Noah Brindise and Urban Meyer employed Chris Leak and Tim Tebow on the way to a national championship in 2006.
But now head coach Jim McElwain is kicking it up to another notch. It’s just a handful of days before the team’s season opener against Michigan and McElwain says he may not play just two quarterbacks, but three quarterbacks!
Via the AP:
Florida coach Jim McElwain hasn’t settled on a starting quarterback. He hasn’t even pared down the three-man competition.
McElwain said Wednesday that fourth-year junior Luke Del Rio, redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks and graduate transfer Malik Zaire will play this season, maybe even in next week’s season opener against No. 11 Michigan.
“You’re going to see a bunch of them in there playing,” McElwain said. “The three guys have done a really good job. I think there’s some things that they all bring to the table that are really good. Now the key to us is putting them in those positions, you know, that play to their strengths.
“Will all play? I don’t know yet. Will a couple of them play? I don’t know yet. I know we will have somebody at the position.”
The old saying goes, “If you have two quarterbacks you really have none.” And while that isn’t universally true as we’ve seen in the past… maybe it does apply to using three different quarterbacks. It’s something I really can’t recall seeing in college football before. Even when OSU returned all of Jones, Barrett, and Braxton Miller the latter moved to wide receiver. At least it’s comforting to know that the head coach will dictate that somebody go out there and take snaps.
Del Rio, Franks, and Zaire all approach this season with vastly different levels of experience. Del Rio threw 8 TDs and 8 INTs for the Gators last season and was probably going to get benched before an injury ended his season prematurely. Zaire showed flashes of brilliance during his career with Notre Dame but also languished behind DeShone Kizer for much of last season. And Franks may be the future for the Gators but he hasn’t yet thrown a collegiate pass.
Playing three quarterbacks doesn’t seem like a recipe for success, especially against a powerful defense like Michigan. When you add on top of that the fact that the Gators have suspended seven players for the game and it’s all looking a bit crazy down in the swamp. At least there’s no naked doppelgänger shark picture kerfuffles this time.