Tampa Bay Sports Day

College Football Notebook: McElwain Says QB Competition Even

The Florida Gators opened camp Thursday with much of the focus on their quarterback competition.

“It’s even,” coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday.

The most intriguing candidate is Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire, but McElwain certainly doesn’t want to give away the starting job right now to a player who hasn’t taken a practice snap with the team.

Before Zaire’s arrival this summer, the favorite was redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks, who showed off in the spring while Luke Del Rio, who went 5-1 as a starter last season, was rehabbing from shoulder surgery.

“It’ll be interesting to see where he’s at off his injuries,” McElwain said. “We’ll see where he’s at physically, but he’s definitely in the plans.”

Redshirt freshman Kyle Trask can’t be counted out of the competition, and the Gators have enough athletes to dabble with a specialized wildcat package on offense, too. Florida has a lot of flavors from which to choose.

“You know, I like having options,” McElwain said. “It’s when you don’t have options that sometimes you beat your head against the wall. I think in this case it’s a real positive.”

McElwain said he doesn’t want to put a timetable on naming a starting quarterback, adding that he doesn’t think Zaire’s newness to the program will be a detriment in the race.

“All indications, he is a great teammate,” McElwain said. “He’s done a great job of getting along with and introducing himself and bringing a certain energy and understanding what it takes. He’s obviously on a mission, and he’s here to help us win a game and win a bunch of games.”

–Former Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian died at the age of 94. He passed away after falling ill from hip surgery complications.
“Notre Dame mourns the loss of a legendary football coach, a beloved member of the Notre Dame family and good man — Ara Parseghian,” university president Father John Jenkins said in a statement. “Among his many accomplishments, we will remember him above all as a teacher, leader and mentor who brought out the very best in his players, on and off the field.”
Parseghian was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980. He led the Irish to a 95-17-4 record in 11 seasons in South Bend, winning national championships in 1966 and 1973.
Parseghian had five operations and was treated earlier this month for an infection at a facility in South Bend, Ind.
Prior to coaching at Notre Dame, he was head coach at Northwestern and Miami (Ohio) and later became a college football television analyst.

–Two potential starters for Ole Miss — cornerback Ken Webster and linebacker Detric Bing-Dukes — were both arrested on a shoplifting charge Tuesday night, according to multiple reports.
Webster started every game in 2015 but suffered a knee injury on the opening defensive series of last season and was granted a medical redshirt.
Bing-Dukes was listed a starter following a strong spring. He made 41 tackles and started three games last season.
Interim head coach Matt Luke said Wednesday that both players will be suspended for the season opener against South Alabama.

–LSU offensive lineman Maea Teuhema has been indefinitely suspended from the team due to a violation of team rules, the school announced.
Teuhema, who has started a total of 21 games at guard and tackle, was expected to hold down the right guard spot for the Tigers on a line that was ranked No. 4 nationally by Lindy’s College Football Annuals.

–Ohio State’s offense struggled at times last season — including being shut out by Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal — and has to replace all-purpose threat Curtis Samuel, as well as Noah Brown and Dontre Wilson.
The Buckeyes will need a newcomer, or two, to support juniors Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin in the receiving corps. Coach Urban Meyer recently singled out true freshman Jaylen Harris, a four-star recruit from Cleveland.
Meyer cautioned that Harris is “still a very immature player,” but went on to add “he’s shown that he’s got the skill-set to play here, no doubt.”

–Oregon State coach Gary Andersen has picked Jake Luton, a transfer from Ventura Community College, to be his starting quarterback. Luton came out of spring in a three-way race with Marcus McMaryion and Darell Garretson but ended the competition early in fall camp.
Luton (6-7, 234) spent two seasons at Idaho before throwing for 3,551 yards and 40 touchdowns last season in junior college. Anderson hopes Luton is the spark for a passing game that ranked 110th nationally last season, averaging 173.8 yards per game.

–Indiana defensive end Nike Sykes will miss the season with an undisclosed injury, coach Tom Allen said. Sykes made 18 tackles last season, including seven for loss and five sacks. “It was a tough blow to us,” Allen said.