Hope springs eternal, or something like that, for Florida football as the Gators prepare for their annual Spring Game, officially known as the Blue and Orange Game, this Thursday.
Like all glorified practices, we won’t be able to gather much in schemes or whether Austin Armstrong will have a defense that holds up better than Patrick Toney’s. Still, we can evaluate individual performances and determine who might be ready for the 2023 season.
With that in mind, here are five players for Florida that need a good showing this Thursday.
Florida football: Graham Mertz
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. It may seem unfair to claim the sky is falling if Mertz doesn’t have a great outing on Thursday, given its only practice, but this will be the first true impression Mertz gets to make on Gator Nation.
After a rather pedestrian career at Wisconsin, Mertz is out to prove that his stint at Madison was hampered more by personnel and play calling rather than him not being very good at football.
And given that Spring games are designed to make the QB look good, it puts the onus on Mertz to at least showcase that he can hit open receivers consistently. Go back to last year’s Blue and Orange game and part of the concern about what would happen if Anthony Richardson got hurt was derived from the fact that Jack Miller had an awful Spring Game.
Miller is still here and could help his cause. Max Brown has been getting some love too. But make no mistake that the starting QB position is Mertz’s to lose.