Perhaps making bold statements about Florida football following the Orange and Blue game is unfair. It is, after all, a Spring Game, and we are reminded annually why they aren’t actually any fun to watch.
But the one thing that most Gator fans wanted to see was QB play that at least resembled something of competence. And while some factors out of Graham Mertz and Jack Miller’s control led to a subpar showing, neither guy looked like they were ready to take the reigns as the starter for 2023.
Florida Football: QB1?
Playing with the starters, aka the Orange Team, Mertz was 10-16 for 143 yards and one touchdown. On the surface, that isn’t the worst stat line in the world for one-half of football, but then we are reminded a lot of that came from a last-second heave to Ricky Pearsall, followed by Napier adding time to the clock.
Mertz never seemed comfortable running the offense. Part of that could have been due to the lackluster offensive line that was in front of him. But if part of the defense of Mertz from Wisconsin is that his poor play was due to a poor offensive line, he didn’t showcase anything that would indicate he knows what to do when to line breaks down.
He seemed panicky inside the pocket in a game where he couldn’t actually get hit.
He made some okay throws, but he wasn’t hitting receivers in stride, and when he tried to go long, he was underthrowing guys.
He also was clapping way too much pre-snap.
Mertz ended 8-13 for 101 yards working with the Blue Team.
But if Jack Miller is supposed to be challenging Mertz for the QB1 slot and the announcers on air commented that Miller really believes he has a chance to be the guy, he didn’t do much to instill confidence.
He was 5-11 in the first half for 49 yards with the Blue Team and only 5-9 for 95 yards working with the Orange Team. He was a little more poised to run with the ball and showed some promise there, but his arm isn’t accurate enough.
While he seemed a little more poised in the pocket than Mertz, he underthrew receivers and looked very similar to how he looked in last year’s Spring Game when he also had a poor showing.
One of the big quotes from Billy Napier after the game was about adding another QB. Florida only has three scholarship QBs on the roster, and he was asked about adding another.
He said Florida football does plan to add another player. He should be noted though this isn’t new information. He said the same thing back in February, even after Mertz had transferred in.
So it is possible that Florida’s starting QB wasn’t on the field last night. Grayson McCall could magically fix his academic issues. Spencer Sanders might decide he doesn’t want to be at Ole Miss.
Or it’s possible that Florida has much work to do and better hope that either Mertz or Miller gets it together.
Because there is only so much window dressing a team can do before it has to open its doors for everyone to see. Last night’s preview didn’t go well for the QBs. They have four and a half months to prepare for the real thing.