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Florida vs. Missouri: Gators plan to go with "the hot hand" at quarterback

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Will Muschamp provided a pretty clear explanation of how Florida's going to handle its QB situation against Missouri.

USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday, we published an article about how we thought Florida's two-quarterback system is going to work.

About an hour later, Will Muschamp made the Gators' plan a bit more explicit during his appearance on the SEC's weekly teleconference:

"We’re going to see who has the hot hand and see who’s helping move our football team and gives us the best opportunity to win," he said. "We’ll make that decision as we go through the game. Both guys deserve and have earned the opportunity to play."

It's rather clear to all involved that Jeff Driskel will start for Florida on Saturday — offensive coordinator Kurt Roper said "Jeff's gonna start," verbatim, in his Wednesday meeting with media.

But rather than merely playing Driskel as the starter and working in backup Treon Harris in substitution packages, it seems that Florida is open to the idea that one player might simply play better, and earn the privilege of playing the majority of the game.

This can be read in either of two ways, I think. On one hand, this is Florida allowing for the possibility of Harris outplaying Driskel and taking the reins as his own — something that many fans would prefer to have already accomplished, though Harris's suspension last week scuttled any chances of that happening against LSU. On the other, it's Florida preserving the possibility of Driskel — the more experienced quarterback of the two, and the one who is undeniably more comfortable with Roper's offense — simply playing better than he has, or than Harris will, and staying in the game because of it.

I've long thought that the phrase Muschamp repeates often, about playing players who "give us the best opportunity to win," is at the core of his philosophy, because he really has tried to win every game Florida has played under him, though what determines whether a player fits that criterion seems to shift. (Florida using the diminutive Brandon Powell for a goal-line carry against LSU and Muschamp hinting this week that Kelvin Taylor's issues in pass-blocking helped glue him to the bench in that game is a good example of that.) It's been pretty clear that Florida has thought Driskel gives the Gators their best chance of winning to this point in this season.

But openly talking about turning to "the hot hand" at quarterback suggests that Florida (read: Muschamp) realizes that Harris was that, at least in a limited sense, against Tennessee, and that rolling the dice with a player who is playing better — and not necessarily the better player — might pay off.

If we weren't Florida fans, this might all be fascinating, and not slightly terrifying.

But we are, and so we have to hope it works out, rather than wondering whether it will.