For the first time this preseason, Florida coach Jim McElwain insisted he has a plan at quarterback.
After weeks of saying the competition was close, that all three candidates vying for the starting job might play against No. 11 Michigan on Saturday, he finally has it figured out. So what’s the plan for his No. 17 Gators?
“I’m not going to tell you what it is, so there’s no reason to ask,” McElwain told reporters on Monday. “But we’re excited about that. We’ll leave that for them to guess as well.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh got even moments later at his own news conference, telling reporters he also knows who his starting quarterback is going to be, and he isn’t telling, either.
“We are not announcing who the starting quarterback is,” Harbaugh said Monday. “Like I said before, I think people make a big deal about our roster and not announcing a starting quarterback.”
The fact that neither coach wants to release who will start at quarterback leaves the game, at least for now, shrouded in mystery. McElwain made sure of it when asked repeatedly about his quarterbacks on Monday by answering with as little information as possible.
“Um, we’ve got a plan,” he said when asked if the starter will be a game-time decision.
“I think they’ll handle it great,” he said when asked how the trio of Malik Zaire, Feleipe Franks and Luke Del Rio will handle the uncertainty.
When he got tired of the questions, he decided to indulge in them.
“I’m going to let you in on a hint,” he said. “We’re going to open up in wildcat with Kadarius Toney there, all right? There you go. There’s your starter.”
He was (probably) joking, but that’s as good a guess as any regarding what his plan is. Florida’s players claim they know nothing about the plan, either.
“I heard [Kadarius Toney] was going to be the quarterback,” receiver Dre Massey said about 20 minutes after McElwain left. He wasn’t alone.
“I don’t know what the plan is,” fellow wideout Josh Hammond said, “but I’m pretty sure It’ll work. We’ll roll with it.”
The Wolverines, meanwhile, have been just as cryptic, if not more so.
Michigan hasn’t released a roster for the game despite a Freedom of Information Act request asking for it to do so. Instead, it released a media guide Monday with names of former Wolverines currently in the NFL. Harbaugh said he’ll release a full roster on Wednesday.
McElwain took a poke at that last week.
“When you guys get their roster,” he told reporters, “let me know who we’re playing.”
He also joked on Monday when asked what his first play on Saturday is going to be, adding to the mystery.
“I’ll tell you what we’re going to do,” he said. “We’re going to snap it, first play. Swinging gate, there you go.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ The Gators will be without freshman receiver James Robinson when the team opens the season on Saturday. He’s suspended for the game after being cited for marijuana possession last week.
Florida was already without star receiver Antonio Callaway, although it’s unlikely Robinson, who was UF’s top offensive recruit in its 2017 class, would have played a significant role off the bench.
“Of course not,” coach Jim McElwain said when asked whether Robinson would play against Michigan. “Come on.”
The school previously issued a statement saying only that McElwain was aware of the situation and it had been “dealt with.”
▪ One “mystery” was solved Monday: What the teams will be wearing when the game kicks off at 3:30 in Arlington, Texas. Nike unveiled special uniforms, with Michigan wearing all yellow with their classic yellow-and-blue helmets and Florida wearing all-blue uniforms.
▪ McElwain said the only UF players nursing injuries are cornerback CJ McWilliams and tight end Kemore Gamble. Both are unlikely to play against Michigan. There’s also linebacker Kylan Johnson, who McElwain said is “iffy” but should be able to play.