Fall Sports · Football

Opinion: Florida must start a freshman QB this weekend 

On Saturday the Florida Gators were embarrassed while playing in Fayetteville against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The final score was 31-10, but no Gators fan believes the game was even that close. 

Florida lost a number of players on both defense and offense including starting quarterback Luke Del Rio.  The loss of Del Rio gives opportunity to the quarterbacks behind him on the depth chart. Florida has graduate transfer Austin Appleby and two young true freshmen, who were thought to be redshirting prior to the struggles of Del Rio. 

Appleby is a serviceable back up quarterback in the SEC. But his biggest minus is that he is a senior. He will not be on this roster next season. 

Florida needs to start a freshman quarterback this weekend against South Carolina and the reasons are simple. 

Florida plays their final home game against South Carolina in what will be a spirited game with former Gators coach Will Muschamp on the opposite sideline for the first time. South Carolina has gone on a little bit of a roll since inserting freshman Jake Bentley in at QB. But they still are not a great team, and Florida should win easily. 

I am not debating which freshman should start. I haven’t seen the practices. Latest rumors are that Feleipe Franks has passed Kyle Trask on the depth chart. Florida has to allow both freshman QBs to practice and award the starting role to whomever is the best. 

What makes the most sense about starting a freshman to end the season, is the leg up it provides for Spring camp and Fall camp. Florida doesn’t start next season with Idaho or UMass. Florida will open next year with Michigan. Michigan, the team thay is currently ranked number two or three in all the polls and is a favorite to win the National Championship. 

If Florida gets their QB now and gives him real experience against SEC defenses, the sky is the limit for next year. 

Let’s face it: Florida isn’t winning anything this year. It is just as likely that Florida finishes 6-6 as it is that the Gators win the SEC Championsip. So, let Nussmeier and McElwain groom their choice starting now. 

The future is now, McElwain has to acknowledge this.  Look at what freshmen QBs have done around the SEC. Jacob Eason, Jake Bentley, Brandon McIllwain, and Jalen Hurts have all enjoyed success and will be well ahead of the Florida quarterback come next season. 

Florida’s defense will be taking a big step back next year with so many players leaving, therefore it’s going to be more important than ever that the offense helps lead the Gators to victory. The best way to ensure that is to give the keys to one of those freshmen early. Let the growing pains begin now. 

I know it’s not optimal to have a true freshman go into Death Valley and into Doak, that’s why it has to be done now. Let the kid take snaps in front of his home crowd. Give Trask or Franks the opportunity to hear the crowd cheer for him.

After the debacle of Treon Harris at quarterback, and the play of Del Rio the last few weeks, what do you have to lose?  The answer is easy… nothing. But what could be gained by giving one of these guys the start is incredible and could be the start of a great QB run at the University of Florida. 

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