University of Florida

UF coordinator Doug Nussmeier confident he can groom next great Gators QB

New Florida Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier speaks to the media Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 in Gainesville.
New Florida Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier speaks to the media Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 in Gainesville. Gainesville Sun

Ohio State’s Urban Meyer just won his third national championship with a third-string quarterback.

Meanwhile, the University of Florida – Meyer’s former school – hasn’t had one quality signal-caller since Tim Tebow starred in The Swamp.

Still, Doug Nussmeier is confident he can succeed where others have failed.

The Gators’ newest offensive coordinator and quarterbacks guru is embracing the challenge to develop the next great Sunshine State signal-caller, and revive Florida’s offense.

“He was a guy who’s been successful everywhere,” UF coach Jim McElwain said.

“He has a great background and is great with people and has developed quarterbacks. I think that’s an important thing to understand there, is the development of the position. That’s kind of where that is [here.]”

And a key reason why Nussmeier is in Gainesville.

Working in tandem with McElwain, the former Idaho star quarterback and Michigan coordinator is tasked with resurrecting a UF offense that consistently ranked in the bottom 20 nationally under Will Muschamp. Florida’s passing offense hasn’t ranked higher than 89th since 2009.

“It’s hard to find teams that don’t have a good quarterback that are successful,” said Nussmeier, who has extensive experience coaching the position in college and the NFL.

Former Gators offensive coordinators Steve Adazzio, Charlie Weis, Brent Pease and Kurt Roper never found the right guy to lead the offense, shuffling through seven quarterbacks since 2010.

They didn’t develop any future signal-callers, either, so Nussmeier, who tutored NFL quarterbacks Marc Bulger, Drew Stanton, Jake Locker and AJ McCarron, inherits an inexperienced group.

Treon Harris – a former star at Miami Booker T. Washington – started the final six games for the Gators this past season, finishing his freshman season with nine touchdowns, four interceptions and a 4-2 record. But Harris, a diminutive duel-threat talent, struggled with accuracy issues (49.5 completion percentage) and could be a square peg for a round hole in Florida’s new offense.

Although McElwain and Nussmeier haven’t committed to a specific scheme, both coaches made their bones piloting prolific modern pro-style attacks.

Harris and heralded redshirt freshman Will Grier will battle for the starting job next season, but Nussmeier eliminated any preconceived notions about either prospect.

It’s a clean slate for everyone.

“What you’ve done before doesn’t matter,” he said.

“It’s living in today and where we’re going in the future is what’s important to me. … I think it will be a great competition. I don’t think there’s any reason to say it will just be two. Obviously, any time you have young quarterbacks, it’s difficult because it takes time. Everybody wants instant results. But the good thing is you get to build them from phase one.”

UF’s new staff wants to add another quarterback to the mix, too, but the Gators don’t have a QB commit for the 2015 recruiting class.

Florida is relentlessly trying to flip Florida State quarterback verbal pledge Deondre Francois (Bradenton IMG Academy).

Either way, UF’s offense, especially at quarterback and on the offensive line, will be full of inexperience in 2015, but the Gators are counting on Nussmeier to duplicate his previous successes of building an explosive attack engineered by steady quarterback play.

“Look at what he has done,” McElwain said.

“He followed up what I did at Alabama and took it to the next level. He was in a tough situation [at Michigan] and tried to resurrect it. What I really like about him is he took the challenge. That’s one thing you guys will find out about Nuss, man, he’s one of the best. I’m looking forward for him to get going.”

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