USC Gamecocks Football

Florida Q&A: Five things to know about South Carolina’s opponent

Florida QB position uncertain, but Gamecocks will be prepared

USC football coach Will Muschamp says the Gamecocks will be prepared for all situations no matter the Florida quarterback.
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USC football coach Will Muschamp says the Gamecocks will be prepared for all situations no matter the Florida quarterback.

Matt Baker, a Florida beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times, took time this week to answer a few of our questions about the No. 19 Gators as they prepare for Saturday’s game with South Carolina.

Kickoff is noon from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. ESPN will televise.

1. Florida’s got some quarterback drama heading into this game. Between Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask, who gives the Gators the best shot to win and why?

Probably Franks. After a loss, the backup quarterback is always the most popular player on the roster, right? But Franks is more talented than Kyle Trask. That’s why he has beaten him for the starting job repeatedly, under two different coaching staffs. The touchdown pass he had against Georgia was a big-time throw. He hasn’t made those kinds of plays consistently, but he’s got the edge in experience and talent. I think he starts Saturday and every game this season (barring injury).

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2. Franks is a sophomore. Trask is a sophomore. Freshman Emory Jones was a high-profile recruit. UF’s starting QB in 2019 will be ?

Emory Jones. Unless something weird happens, he’ll probably only play against Idaho and in the bowl game to preserve his redshirt. Dan Mullen is taking it slow with him; he doesn’t want to throw him in too early, as UF probably did with Feleipe Franks last year.

But from what very little we’ve seen, Jones is a better fit for Mullen’s offense than Franks or Trask. That’s why Mullen recruited him. I don’t think Franks/Trask have done enough to prove they’re the long-term answer UF has been seeking since Tim Tebow left. Jones might be.

3. Which is more like the real Florida: The Gators that started 6-1 or the Gators that have dropped consecutive games by a combined 40 points?

What’s the old coaching line, that you’re never as good or as bad as you thought you were? Sorry to use the lame answer, but the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.

Florida beat a very good LSU team. That is a fact. It’s a thing that happened. But UF also got drubbed at home by a decent Mizzou team. That is also a thing that happened. Here’s what that tells me: When the Gators play well, they can hang with almost every team outside of the Alabama/Clemson echelon. When they play poorly, they can get beat by most decent teams. So that makes them like almost every other team in the country.

4. Recent attendance numbers have suggested some apathy with the program. Is that surprising with Dan Mullen in the fold

A little bit. Mullen has done a lot to try to fire up the fan base, dating back to the offseason. His time as an assistant under Urban Meyer means he knows the program and can tell stories of Tebow and Percy Harvin. Fans love that connection. But he has a big hill to climb. UF fans want wins and offense. They’re beaten down from the Muschamp and McElwain debacles. They’re frustrated that there’s still no long-term quarterback.

Let’s not forget, too, that this isn’t just a Florida issue. Attendance has been down nationally. Florida State reduced its capacity a few years ago, to name one other school. It’s bigger than UF, but the Gators’ on-field product has contributed to the problem.

5. After Will Muschamp was fired, Jim McElwain lasted two and a half years at Florida before his tenure came to an unceremonious end. How do Gator fans view Muschamp now?

They’re not going to build a statue of him or anything, but they view him better now after the McElwain era. Even when McElwain won the East in his first two years, fans didn’t seem to love him. He wasn’t a right fit, and that became obvious pretty quickly.

Muschamp was different. I don’t think it was personal with him — certainly not to the degree that it was with McElwain. With Muschamp, it was business. There are people at UF who still like Muschamp as a human being. He just didn’t win enough. So I think that’s how the fans view him —as a nice enough guy who didn’t win enough games or put up enough points.

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