Florida Gators' QB battle far from over after two scrimmages

On3 imageby:Zach Abolverdi04/07/23

ZachAbolverdi

GAINESVILLE, Fla — At the conclusion of spring ball last year, the Florida Gators entered the offseason with an established starter at the quarterback position in Anthony Richardson. It doesn’t appear that will be the case in 2023.

Through the 12 practices and two scrimmages this spring, Graham Mertz and Jack Miller III are neck and neck in the QB race. Both signal callers have had their moments in camp (good and bad), but the competition is still ongoing.

Following the scrimmage Thursday, Florida coach Billy Napier declined to discuss whether one of the quarterbacks has distanced himself at all.

“I don’t necessarily know that we’re ready to define that in public, if that makes sense,” Napier said. “We don’t play a game anytime soon, right?”

Not for almost five months. The Orange & Blue Game takes place Thursday and both quarterbacks are expected take reps with the first-team offense, unlike last year when Richardson played exclusively with the starters.

Regardless of who has the better performance next week, the competition between Mertz and Miller is shaping up to continue through the summer, into fall training camp and up until the season opener at Utah on Aug. 31.

Napier dismissed the need for his players to have a defined starting quarterback to rally around in the offseason.

“Nah, I think they’re rallying around both guys because both guys have proven day in and day out that they can be effective, right? So, we’ve got a long ways to go before we play and a lot of reps. I mean, training camp is essentially two spring practices to some degree and we’re going to have, 18 OTAs this summer. A lot of throwing and catching, a lot of meetings. A lot of competition left here,” Napier said.

“I think one thing that competition has done for both players is make them be on top of their game. So, I like that variable. We’re gonna try to keep that variable where it’s at.” 

Napier assesses the Florida Gators QBs

Napier offered his assessment on all three quarterbacks following the team’s second scrimmage, including redshirt freshman Max Brown.

On Graham Mertz:

“Graham Mertz has been impressive to watch. Just his maturity, his ability to learn a new system in a very quick manner. He did two-a-days basically since the day he got here. He’s been grinding away behind the scenes and he’s hit the ground running. I mean, he operates like a guy who’s been around here. So, the most important thing here is that he has forced the other players to rise to the occasion.”

On Jack Miller III:

“Jack Miller has really made drastic improvement. I mean, I hadn’t watched Jack. He was out for basically the entire season and then we throw him to the wolves in the bowl game. But he has really impressed me with his response to the competition.”

On Max Brown:

“And then Max obviously is a young player who flashes and does a lot of things well, and is still learning and can be more consistent.”

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