Open competition at QB


Quarterbacks Jeff Driskel, right, and John Brantley warm up before the UAB game Sept. 10. With Brantley out, Driskel is considered the front-runner to start at LSU on Saturday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 11:17 p.m.

Although true freshman Jeff Driskel is considered the front-runner, the Florida coaches aren't ready yet to name a starting quarterback for Saturday's game at LSU.

“I could tell you, but I'd have to shoot you,” UF offensive coordinator Charlie Weis jokingly said after practice Tuesday. “We don't know yet. We're practicing. As the head coach has already previously told you, (starter John) Brantley is out and we're practicing the other three guys.

“By the end of the week, we'll decide who the starter is.”




On Monday, UF coach Will Muschamp said Driskel would be starting if the game was being played that day. But the game is not until Saturday, and Muschamp and Weis have opened the competition for the starting role in practice this week.

The three candidates are Driskel, fellow true freshman Jacoby Brissett and redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy.

Driskel has been the No. 2 quarterback since midway through preseason camp and has played in four games. Weis admits Driskel is probably the leading candidate.

“That's possible,” he said. “I can't tell you. I'm going objectively. I'm not going just because Jeff has played and the other two guys haven't played.

“Jeff obviously has the upper hand because he's played and the other guys haven't really played meaningful football yet. The other two guys are getting reps. We'll see how it goes.”

Whoever starts, Weis said UF's inexperienced quarterback will have a game plan he's comfortable with and capable of executing.

“Everything is being tailor-made around these guys,” Weis said. ‘You don't add more, you cut back so you get used to doing the things they feel comfortable doing. You don't expose them to as much material, which gives them a lot more confidence.

“We've got to give them all action (in practice) and then objectively at the end of the week go in that direction based on who looked the best. All three of these guys could run this game plan.”

Driskel could not effectively run UF's game plan in the second half in the loss to Alabama. Weis said that occurred because the game plan was built around Brantley.

“John goes down and I have to do a better job to put us in a better position to make plays,” Weis said. “Now that you've had a whole week to go ahead and prepare for him not being here, it's easier to go ahead and game plan.

“Let's face it, when you're in a week getting ready to play a big game, the backup quarterbacks is getting only a handful of reps. You center your whole game plan around that first guy.”

Last week's plan was built around Brantley's ability to efficiently execute the Gators' downfield passing game.

Weis will have a different plan for Driskel, Murphy and Brissett.

“I feel a lot better now than I would have doing it last week in the game,” he said. “You devise a game plan really around John. When he goes down, you have to cut back in what you're doing. Now at least you you know John is out for this week and you can build a game plan around less experienced guys.

“Obviously, going into the game last week we put a lot on (Brantley's) shoulders. He went down and it caused you to alter what you are doing.”

When Muschamp was asked Monday if the Gators could end up playing more than one quarterback Saturday, he said, “We're going to do what's best for our football team.”

Weis was asked Tuesday if all three QBs might play.

“I would doubt that,” he said. “What I can't do is tell you right now which way it's going to go because today was our first full day of practice. We have another full day as we get toward Thursday and move toward tuning everything and cleaning everything up.

“You can't be distributing reps the same way we're doing it right now (later in the week).”

Weis said the best thing the Gators could do for their inexperienced quarterbacks Saturday is re-establish a running game that got shut down by Alabama.

“That's the first thing,” he said. “Any time you have a fairly inexperienced quarterback, you need to take the pressure off him by being able to run.

“Last week, it was a combination of things. They won the line of scrimmage. When you lose the line of scrimmage, which we did last week, you usually aren't going to be very effective in the run game whether inside or out. It doesn't make much difference if you don't win the line of scrimmage.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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