Once again, Florida quarterback situation in flux entering LSU week

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The No. 21 Florida Gators host the LSU Tigers (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS) for their second of three consecutive home games.

And just as with recent history, the Gators (3-1, 3-0 SEC) head into the matchup with the Tigers (3-2, 0-1 SEC) with their quarterback situation highlighting the storylines surrounding the team.

This marks the fifth consecutive year that some sort of major quarterback news has occurred ahead of Florida’s annual game with its SEC West rival.

Here’s a look back at how it all played out.

2017: Back to Feleipe Franks

Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks opened the season as Florida’s starting quarterback. But in the first four games of the year:

  • He was benched in the third quarter of the season-opener against Michigan, a 33-17 loss.
  • He threw a game-winning touchdown to Tyrie Cleveland as time expired against Tennessee to open SEC play with a 26-20 win.
  • He was benched in the third quarter against Kentucky for Luke Del Rio, who led a fourth-quarter comeback for the 28-27 win and took over the starting job.
  • He replaced Del Rio in the second quarter against Vanderbilt after Del Rio sustained a season-ending collarbone injury. Franks and a dominant run game led the Gators to a 38-24 win.

Now, Franks is back as the starting quarterback and will look to keep the Gators perfect in SEC play with a win over LSU. Franks showed poise and improvement against Vanderbilt, throwing for 185 yards on 10-of-14 passing.

The question now shifts to how he will respond this week.

RELATED:  Florida coach Jim McElwain, teammates discuss next step for QB Feleipe Franks |  With Tyrie Cleveland injured, Florida’s offense once again looking for another playmaker

2016: Austin Appleby or Luke Del Rio?

When the game originally was scheduled to be played on Oct. 8, McElwain was unsure who would be the starting quarterback.

Austin Appleby started the previous two (a 38-28 loss at Tennessee and a 13-9 win at Vanderbilt) while Luke Del Rio recovered from knee/shoulder injuries suffered against North Texas in Week 3. Del Rio was progressing enough with his rehab for McElwain to consider playing him.

“This was something I know Luke had kind of been targeting a little bit,” McElwain said at the time. “Part of it, his mindset is he’s going to play … but we’ll know more at the end of the week.”

That point ultimately was rendered moot for the week because Hurricane Matthew delayed the game against LSU by a month. Del Rio regained the starting role a week later against Missouri and played two more games before being shut down after the 31-10 loss to Arkansas. Appleby led the Gators’ offense in the 16-10 win in Baton Rouge that ended with the defense’s goal-line stand.

2015: The start of life after Will Grier

Florida was riding high heading into LSU week. The Gators were 6-0, had an upset win over Ole Miss under their belt and were ranked No. 8 in the country.

And then the news came out the Monday of game week: The NCAA suspended starting quarterback Will Grier for 12 months for violating the substance-abuse policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

With that, the Gators started Treon Harris on the road against the No. 6 Tigers. Florida ultimately fell flat late in the 35-28 loss. Harris threw for 271 yards on 17-of-32 passing with a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Jake McGee. After trailing 28-14 at halftime, Florida tied the game in the third quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run from Kelvin Taylor and a 72-yard punt return from Antonio Callaway.

The Tigers took the lead with some trickery in the fourth quarter. A fake field goal turned into a 16-yard rushing touchdown down the left sideline for LSU kicker Trent Domingue with 10 minutes left. Florida could not answer back on its final three drives.

2014: Treon Harris suspended, back to Jeff Driskel

Treon Harris, a true freshman, looked to have usurped Jeff Driskel as the Gators’ starting quarterback heading into the LSU game after leading Florida to a fourth-quarter comeback over Tennessee.

And then the news dropped.

Harris was suspended the Monday of LSU game week after being investigated for an alleged sexual assault on campus. The complainant withdrew her claim three days later, but then-coach Will Muschamp upheld Harris’ suspension through the game.

Driskel, in turn, held onto his starting role for the home game against LSU. Florida lost 30-27 on a last-second, 50-yard field goal from LSU’s Colby Delahoussaye. Driskel threw for just 183 yards on 14-of-25 passing with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions, the second of which led to LSU’s game-winning field goal.

Harris was reinstated to the team the next week and became the starter two games later against the Georgia Bulldogs.

2013: Backup in Baton Rouge

Florida was already on its second QB of the season in Tyler Murphy after Jeff Driskel sustained a season-ending leg injury three weeks earlier.

Murphy led Florida to a pair of wins in his first two starts over Kentucky (24-7) and Arkansas (30-10), but the redshirt junior couldn’t get the job done against LSU, a 17-6 loss.

The Gators scored just 2 field goals and recorded just 240 yards of offense. LSU sacked Murphy 4 times and recorded 8 total tackles for loss.

It was the first of Florida’s seven straight losses to close out the 2013 season.

The post Once again, Florida quarterback situation in flux entering LSU week appeared first on SEC Country.

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