UF football

Florida Gators QB Skyler Mornhinweg ready for bigger role

 
 
University of Florida quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg looks for a receiver during the second half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. on Nov. 16, 2013. South Carolina won 19-14.
University of Florida quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg looks for a receiver during the second half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. on Nov. 16, 2013. South Carolina won 19-14.
Richard Shiro / AP

Miami Herald Writer

Redshirt freshman quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg is ready for a bigger role, and with no future first-round NFL draft pick on the scouting report this week, his opportunity might be coming.

Although Florida’s creatively conservative game plan nearly resulted in a monumental upset of No. 12 South Carolina, the Gamecocks eventually sniffed out UF’s unbalanced attack.

Weary of exposing Mornhinweg in his first-career start, Florida’s staff consciously protected the freshman, attempting just 13 passes to 41 runs.

It was the Jadeveon Clowney Corollary.

But Georgia Southern, Saturday’s opponent, has no Clowney, and Mornhinweg — in line to make his second career start as Tyler Murphy remains doubtful with a shoulder injury — anticipates more on his plate.

So does coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

“I think he can handle more,” Muschamp said. “I think a lot of our plan was based on their front and Clowney and those guys, being able to protect for his first start and a lot of those situations. When you move past that, he’ll be able to do more.”

Added Pease: “Understand that last week was really based around No. 7 on their team. That guy’s the best player in the nation. He can change the game, cause a fumble, pick the ball up and run. Going in, our plan was really designed to make sure that we were going to do things that he couldn’t change the momentum of the game. We need to expect more of Skyler now. I think he can handle it. I’ve got confidence in him that he can. It’s a little bit different situation.”

Mornhinweg was serviceable in his first-career action. He completed his first six passes to open the game, but only two attempts were thrown beyond the line of scrimmage. The redshirt freshman managed UF’s inventive, but gimmicky direct-snap attack well, yet when asked to lead a late fourth-quarter comeback, his inexperience showed.

“I’ve got to make a better decision. I’ve got to throw the ball away. That’s on me,” Mornhinweg said of his late-game interception.

Mornhinweg, who found out last Friday he would make the start, immediately called his father, New York Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, to relay the news.

“He told me, ‘Just go out there with great confidence, just take care of the football,’” Skyler said. “I was really excited. I mean I had pregame butterflies and everything like that. It was a great atmosphere, and I was just really excited to get out there and play.”

Mornhinweg, a former three-star prospect recruited to Florida mainly for depth purposes, wasn’t exactly in UF’s long-term plans, but Muschamp said the second-year player prepared diligently just waiting for his opportunity.

“He’s very cerebral, smart, works at the game extremely hard, well-respected by his teammates,” Muschamp said. “As the week wore on, he didn’t really change. That’s kind of who he is. There’s not a whole lot of change in him as far as his demeanor is concerned. I thought he handled it really well. I really did.”

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