Brissett, Driskel impress in spring game
Published: Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 6:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 5:53 p.m.
We've been hearing the same thing from Florida coach Will Muschamp all spring. His two true sophomore quarterbacks are dead even. There has been no separation in the battle for the starting role. The Gators can win with both.
On Saturday, Gator Nation saw in person exactly what Muschamp has been talking about.
Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett put on a nice little show in the Orange and Blue Debut before an announced crowd of 38,100 in The Swamp.
They managed and moved the offense. They made sound decisions. They showed off big-time arms and completed passes down the field and involved the wide receivers, backs and tight ends.
And, yes, when it was all over, the two ended the day right where they started it -- locked in a competition that is too close to call (and won't be decided until late August).
“I think today you saw both those guys take command of our football team,” Muschamp said. “Both guys made vertical plays down the field, good decisions where they took the ball. You saw what I've been seeing from 14 practices previous to today. I've said before, we can win with both guys.
“Last year, unfortunately, we played both of them. Right now, I'm really happy that both of them played. It was tough to go through for them because at any level – I don't care if it's high school, college or pro – that the quarterback position is so critical and to put so much on those young guys on a football team coming in here as true freshmen is tough. We certainly benefitted from it, though.”
Driskel and Brissett appeared about as even as two quarterbacks can be in the Blue's 21-20 victory. They played with both teams, but spent most of the afternoon sharing reps with the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense.
Here's the overall tale of the tape:
* Driskel completed 12 of 14 passes for 147 yards and rushed for 19 yards.
* Brissett completed nine of 16 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns. His touchdown passes were for four yards to Quinton Dunbar and for 34 yards to Trey Burton in the closing seconds against mostly walk-on defensive players.
The bottom line is both appear to have a chance to be effective and productive leaders in coordinator Brent Pease's offense.
“You have to look at the whole package,” Muschamp said. “You have to see the big picture about managing the team. Again, both guys have done a nice job with a lot of new things thrown at them on some verbiage, on some things that they've got to be able to call, communicate.
“I thought both did a good job at the line of scrimmage, knowing some things were not right. Switching a guy from one side to the other, get the motion going, changing the formation, changing the run, flipping the side, changing the protection. Just very even across the board. Very pleased with their progress.
“We let them go play and I think that we saw both those guys throw the ball extremely well. They're both really good athletes and both guys can create some off-tempo plays for us as a football team.”
Both quarterbacks seem pleased with how they performed and where they're at in competition to become the No. 1 quarterback.
“Confidence is just something that's gonna keep growing for me with my knowledge of the game and my knowledge of the plays and the playbook,” Brissett said. “The sky's the limit for anybody with confidence.”
Driskel certainly has some of that confidence, too. In that regard, it's day and night between now and last spring, when he looked lost and didn't really know what was going on at times.
Now, he's managing the offense and making plays.
“Just knowing the playbook gives you confidence,” Driskel said. “Last year, I was kind of a little clueless out there just kind of locking onto one guy. I feel like I'm going through my progressions more and just playing instead of thinking. I'm not locking onto the first read.”
Driskel was asked what he did well and didn't do well Saturday.
“I just found open receivers. The receivers were getting open,” he said. “The offensive line was giving me time. There was one play I was standing back there for about four or five seconds, so I had all the time in the world.
“The bad. ... I screwed up a couple calls. Got the wristband wrong and forgot to send somebody in motion. I've got to clean that up.”
Muschamp said earlier this week that the competition between Driskel and Brissett is way too close to call and he won't be ready to name a starter until August.
So, what's the next step in the battle for No. 1?
“Managing our team in the offseason, which is huge because as coaches we can't be involved,” Muschamp said. “So right now is a huge, huge indicator to see who takes a leg up and see who's going to get our football team out there and do team drills, 11-on-11, and what we call PRP, a player-run practice.
“That's what it has to be now. I can't be out there. Brent can't be out there. They've got to take control of our football team.
“I feel very comfortable that both lines of scrimmages will handle that well. I feel comfortable that our linebackers and our back end on defense will. And I feel comfortable our offense will. But those guys (Brissett and Driskel) need to take the next step as far as that's concerned."
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