Friday, December 15, 2017
Colleges

Florida football staff eyes backup QB battle

GAINESVILLE — Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper said Tuesday that he'll have to start narrowing the focus in his search for a backup quarterback soon.

"We have a little bit more time," he said. "I think the biggest thing is deciding the strengths and weaknesses each guy has and decide from there. But we'll have to make decisions here pretty soon, through the week and into next week, and start trying to get more reps that way. I still think we're in a competitive situation. Let's keep battling and see what they learn because everything is so new to these guys."

Roper said true freshmen Treon Harris and Will Grier have talent, but, typical of young players, are struggling with the speed of the game and learning plays.

"I see guys that are working hard that want to be good, that right now are confused because it is a bunch on their plate, it is a different game," Roper said. "It's a brand new language. We do have a lot of routes, so it takes a little bit of time to pick up. But I see talented players."

Timing is right: Starting QB Jeff Driskel said he feels confident in the offense, adding his timing with his receivers is ahead of where he thought it would be. "It's going well," he said. "I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what we're trying to do on offense. I think having the spring with Coach Roper really helped and carrying that into the summer with the guys. I don't think we've had nearly as many busted assignments, even from the younger guys, as I'd thought we would."

FSU: Scuffle forgotten

TALLAHASSEE — RB Karlos Williams and DB Jalen Ramsey are moving on from a publicized scuffle at practice.

Ramsey was ejected from Sunday's practice by coach Jimbo Fisher after Ramsey jolted Williams, who was in pass protection, so hard that he fell backwards and landed on the legs of QB Jameis Winston.

But Ramsey and Williams, who engaged in a shoving match earlier that day, have since had a heart-to-heart talk.

"Me and Jalen have been very close since the first day he got here, have always been around each other," Williams said. "I told him from Day 1 that he's going to be a leader."

Williams, a senior, took responsibility and said the situation "could've been easily solved" if he had "taken the situation in my hands" as the veteran.

Orlando Sentinel

USF: Derby at RB

TAMPA — USF's battle for running back is heating up.

After senior Michael Pierre, the likely starter, was forced to end his playing career in the offseason after injuring his neck and spinal cord, the Bulls had a glaring hole on offense.

Though questions remain, running backs coach Telly Lockette is confident the team has an answer from among sophomore Darius Tice, redshirt freshman Sta'fon McCray and incoming four-star recruits D'Ernest Johnson and Marlon Mack.

If no one stands out during camp, however, Lockette said he's not afraid of a committee approach to start the season.

"We don't have a kid in our backfield that carried the ball more than 5 percent last year," Lockette said. "My whole room right now is young guys. … They really haven't played. … We'll just try to get some production out of those guys and go from there."

The only option USF has with college experience is Tice, who had 35 carries for 141 yards in eight games last season. Though he wants to start, Tice said it's still a tossup.

"I feel like we'll emerge throughout the games and throughout the season," Tice said. "You're going to separate yourself based off the carries and how well you're doing blocking. I feel like I can emerge. I feel like a couple other guys can emerge as well."

McFarland update: Senior TE Mike McFarland (left knee) dressed in full pads with a protective brace but was limited in practice for the second straight day.

Jeff Odom, Times correspondent

UCF: Prez not worried

ORLANDO — UCF president John Hitt echoed coach George O'Leary in shrugging off last week's Fox Sports report that O'Leary would resign after the Knights' opener. "Coach O'Leary would never quit after one game in a season," Hitt told Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. "Whoever wrote that doesn't know George O'Leary. … George will retire when he retires. … We think and hope it will be a good, long while before that happens."

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