Photo credit: Brad McClenny, Gainesville Sun
UPDATE: Per Billy Napier at a press conference Sunday afternoon (August 21), Jack Miller is expected to miss the first two games, against Utah and Kentucky, and possibly more depending on how his recovery comes along. But from his tone, the analysis below seems to only apply to a small percentage of Florida’s twelve games.
Original story begins below.
As was first reported late last night by the Orlando Sentinel, Florida backup quarterback Jack Miller suffered a thumb injury that required surgery.
The glass half full view here is that the injury occurred two and a half weeks before the season, as opposed to two days before the first game. So while Jack Miller will miss a significant amount of time, it doesn’t appear as though it will cost him the whole season. But it will still likely cost him most of it, and that poses a major-league problem for Florida at the QB position.
The easiest way to avoid problems here is keeping starter Anthony Richardson healthy. Of course, this is easier said than done, and now if he doesn’t stay healthy, the significance of not having him becomes magnified exponentially.
Jack Miller had his struggles in the spring game, but still had a wealth of college football experience under his belt (albeit as a backup). And he was coming along in summer ball. To be very clear, you could do so much worse than Miller for a backup quarterback. But now, Florida won’t have that option to go to should the unthinkable happen to Richardson.
Before we reach any type of emergency, apocalypse, just-get-through-this-game scenario like the Denver Broncos did a couple of years ago with Kendall Hinton, (which for the Gators would likely mean giving former high school QB-turned-receiver Trent Whittemore a shot), Florida is basically down to two options at QB should disaster strike.
One is Jalen Kitna, the son of former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna. Billy Napier has recently praised him for his growth from spring to summer practices, and it was becoming assumed that he would be the third-string QB on the depth chart due to his poise and high football IQ. Kitna, though, is recovering from a knee injury and still isn’t ready for full contact.
That leaves the door open for true freshman Max Brown, Florida’s eleventh-hour QB signee in Billy Napier’s transition class. Brown put up big numbers in high school in Oklahoma as a dual-threat quarterback who could make things happen on the run, but that was not exactly against elite competition and a learning curve is expected.
Behind them, there are two walk-on options: Kyle Engel and Jack Anders.
Obviously, we all have to hope it doesn’t get to that point.