Brissett standing tall in role
Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 11:49 p.m.
Jacoby Brissett's numbers don't exactly jump off the stat sheet from a week ago.
One rush, one yard. One pass, one completion.
Only two plays.
But one huge contribution to Florida's 26-21 win over Vanderbilt that snapped the Gators' four-game losing streak.
“I've seen him do that kind of thing before,” said Brissett's high school coach, West Palm Beach Dwyer's Jack Daniels. “There is something about him that is kind of special.”
The Gators have already started to figure that out about the true freshman quarterback.
His performance last Saturday was further confirmation.
“It doesn't surprise me that he's making those plays,” UF offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said. “He's showed that since he's been out there. Right from the first game he's been out there, he's showed pretty good composure.”
Composed is definitely the word that describes his performance against Vanderbilt, especially late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
Taking over for the injured John Brantley late in the fourth quarter, Brissett produced, arguably, the game-saving play for the Gators.
Clinging to a 20-14 lead and facing a third-and-7 from his own 24-yard line, Brissett dropped back to pass and was almost immediately flushed out of the pocket.
Drifting to his right, he kept looking, looking for a receiver but could not find one. Just when it appeared he was going to step out of bounds, Brissett somehow squared his shoulders and launched a pass downfield toward wide receiver Frankie Hammond.
Hammond had a chance to make the reception and didn't. But he was interfered with, drawing a 15-yard penalty. Three plays later, Jeff Demps sprinted 52 yards for the clinching touchdown.
“There are not many freshmen in that situation who could have done that,” UF coach Will Muschamp said of Brissett's clutch, scrambling play. “He does (play with a great deal of calmness about him.) He's a young man that positively affects everybody around him. He's got great innate leadership ability.”
Brissett's game-saving decision wasn't the only play he made Saturday.
On UF's first possession, Brissett, used in situations when the Gators wanted the quarterback to go under center, managed to avoid a massive rush on a third-down play and found Omarius Hines open for a 40-yard gain. Unfortunately, Hines fumbled in the end zone and Vandy recovered.
Early in the second quarter, Brissett made another play, using extra effort on a quarterback sneak to get in the end zone from one yard out to give the Gators their first score of the game.
It was only a handful of plays, but Brissett impacted the game.
“Jacoby, man, he's starting to have a lot of confidence, and we're starting to feel that he has a lot of confidence,” wide receiver Andre Debose said. “He's very calm in the huddle. He rarely acts like a freshman. I don't see him as a freshman at all. He has the composure of a much older player.”
If someone said before the start of the season that a true freshman QB would be doing this sort of thing, most would have assumed it would be Jeff Driskel, a higher-rated prospect who had the advantage of enrolling early and participating in spring football.
While Driskel was already in school and learning from Weis, Brissett was still back in high school leading the Dwyer basketball team to a state championship (to go along with the one in football in 2009).
“The reason he didn't get up to Gainesville early is he's a great basketball player,” Daniels said. “He won a state championship in football and hadn't won one in basketball. He was the leader of that (basketball) team. He felt he would let the school down if he left early (to enroll at UF).
“He knew if he stayed, they would win it, and they did.”
It was during Dwyer's basketball season that Weis had a chance to see Brissett compete live for the first time. The Gators did not start recruiting Brissett until Weis arrived at UF last December and saw tape of Brissett.
“They were after Curt Maggitt, a defensive end,” Daniels said. “I kept saying to Coach Muschamp, ‘You've got to take a look at our quarterback.' He said he was going to hire a coordinator soon and he'd let him evaluate Jacoby.
“Right after Weis got the job, he evaluated Jacoby on tape and really liked what he saw. He was down here recruiting him the next day.”
About 10 months later, Brissett helped the Gators win a football game.
Put that on top of the fact he's already started two games, and Brissett is looking more and more like UF's next starting quarterback. He and Driskel will compete for that role in the spring.
Daniels said Brissett is mature, athletic, intelligent — and consumed with the idea of being Florida's starting quarterback.
“He wants to be the quarterback up there,” Daniels said. “He studies tape, he practices. He doesn't go out. He doesn't socialize.
“He wants to be the quarterback at Florida — and that's it.”
He's off to a strong start.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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