Since Tim Tebow took his final snap for the Gators in the Sugar Bowl to cap a 13-1 season in 2009, the Gators have used eight different quarterbacks in five seasons. The musical chairs behind center must end for Florida to compete regularly for SEC titles. McElwain’s background as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach has produced results during his career. First, he must find out if Grier or Harris is the team’s starting quarterback in 2015.
WHO WILL FILL THE VOID LEFT BY DANTE FOWLER JR.’S DEPARTURE?
It’s never an easy task to replace a player selected third overall in the NFL Draft. However, the Gators have a strong mix of veterans and young players on the defensive line to have a solid unit without Fowler harassing opposing quarterbacks. That group includes Jonathan Bullard, Alex McCalister, Bryan Cox Jr., Joey Ivie and Caleb Brantley. Taven Bryan and newcomer Cece Jefferson could also factor into the equation.
DOES THE OFFENSIVE LINE HAVE ENOUGH BODIES FOR A LIVE SCRIMMAGE?
McElwain has joked he might have to play on the offensive line based on the depth chart in the spring. Fortunately for him, a batch of newcomers arrived over the summer to boost the group’s numbers. Freshman Martez Ivey is a player everyone is talking about as a potential star, and graduate transfer Mason Halter is a much-needed addition who provides some experience after starting the last three seasons at Fordham. Also, fifth-year senior Trip Thurman, who has 12 career starts, is ready after missing spring camp due to a chronic shoulder injury. Who knows what the starting lineup and rotation will look like by the season opener, but at least the 53-year-old McElwain or any pizza delivery guys won’t have to take the field.
WHAT IMPACT WILL JAKE MCGEE HAVE ON THE OFFENSE?
McGee was touted as an important addition last season in former offensive coordinator Kurt Roper’s no-huddle offense. McGee was a dangerous threat at Virginia and opted to transfer to Florida for graduate school and a final season of college football. Well, he played all of nine snaps before suffering a broken leg that ended his season. McGee was granted a medical hardship and sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA and is fully recovered. A talented tight end as a safety valve underneath is usually a good thing to have for an inexperienced quarterback. In McGee’s case, he has the speed and athleticism to stretch the field too. If Florida’s offense improves significantly, look for McGee to have some nice numbers at the end of the season.
WHO IS GOING TO STEP UP AT LINEBACKER UNTIL ANTONIO MORRISON IS READY?
McElwain recently stated that Morrison, injured the the Birmingham Bowl, is not fully recovered from offseason surgery and won’t be ready at the start of camp. That leaves Jarrad Davis, Alex Anzalone, Jeremi Powell and Daniel McMillian as the team’s most experienced linebackers with the loss of starters Neiron Ball and Michael Taylor from a season ago. Matt Rolin, who has missed the past two seasons due to injury, also returns. Linebackers coach Randy Shannon is very good at what he does, so this group has a proven teacher. He hopes he has some quick learners.