UF coaches evaluating QBs

Gillislee put up career numbers

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp talks with quarterback Jeff Driskel after a punt during the first half against the Bowling Green Flacons at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 7:07 p.m.

Florida's eight-month quarterback battle could be about to finally end.


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Who: Florida (1-0) at Texas A&M (0-0)
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Radio: AM-850, 103.7-FM

UF coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease were scheduled to meet Sunday to discuss the situation at the position, where true sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel have been locked in a neck-and-neck competition since January.

A full-time starter could be named today. Or, Muschamp could decide to continue playing both quarterbacks this Saturday at Texas A&M in the Gators' SEC opener.

Many are assuming Driskel is now the leader to become the No. 1 quarterback based on what happened in UF's 27-14 victory over Bowling Green on Saturday. After the two QBs each played a quarter in the first half, Driskel played the entire second half and threw a crucial 50-yard touchdown pass to Frankie Hammond Jr. early in the fourth quarter.

Driskel completed 10 of 16 passes for 114 yards and rushed for 24 yards, while Brissett played only three brief series in the second quarter and threw only five passes, completing three for 31 yards.

Driskel appears to be the clear leader now. But Muschamp reiterated on his Sunday television show that the decision to go with Driskel in the second half Saturday was based solely on Muschamp's belief that the Gators needed to go with the quarterback who has the best escapability and running ability.

“Both guys did a nice job as far as managing the game as we moved through the game,” Muschamp said. “Jeff did a good job in the first quarter and Jacoby did a nice job in the second quarter.

“At the half, I kind of felt we needed some quarterback legs as far as some boots (bootlegs) and nakeds and things that are involved, and it sort of fell to Jeff's hand in that situation. Brent and I will sit down later today and make a decision as we move forward.”

While much of the attention Saturday was on the quarterback competition, the offensive star turned out to be senior tailback Mike Gillislee, who rushed for a career-high 148 yards and two touchdowns.

“We did a nice job (running the football),” Muschamp said. “Really, up front we blocked well. We're much-improved up front.

“Mike Gillislee gave us some downhill running game. I thought Mike ran the ball extremely well, which we thought he would. We're looking forward to building on that and creating some explosive plays outside.”

The Gators rushed for 220 yards, but had difficulty picking up first downs in short-yardage situations running against eight- and nine-man defensive fronts.

“In this day and age of football, people are going to outnumber you in the box, and we still need to be able to run,” Muschamp said. “You can't check to the throwing game all the time.

“Generally, when you do that (run when you're outnumbered in the box), you've got to make somebody miss. Mike did that several times and made some nice cuts.”

Gillislee scored on runs of 15 and 38 yards. The Gators also had a rare big play in the passing game, when Hammond took a 10-yard pass in the flat and turned it into a 50-yard TD play.

“Well, in my two years here, that's good to see. Finally some yardage after the catch at the receiver position,” Muschamp said.

The defense also produced a big play in the fourth quarter — an interception and 31-yard return by cornerback Marcus Roberson that set up the Driskel-to-Hammond touchdown.

Overall, though, the defense gave up a 12-play, 89-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter and had some problems stopping the Falcons short passing game. Bowling Green quarterback Matt Schilz completed 25 passes for 226 yards.

“They were a really control passing game and it was very frustrating,” Muschamp said. “It's hard to get to the quarterback when the ball is out that quickly. They averaged less than five yards an attempt, which would have led the country this past year in terms of pass defense.

“We had tight coverage. They made some nice throws. We need to get the ball from them. We had some opportunity for interceptions. We need to cash in on those plays when we have those opportunities.”

Another negative — perhaps THE negative — was fact the Gators were penalized 14 times for 106 yards.

“We talked about it more that just at halftime,” Muschamp said. “We have to find other methods to figure out how to reach some of things guys, and we will continue to do so.”

Overall, it was a shaky opening performance. Now, the Gators dive into SEC play at Texas A&M on Saturday in what should be a very electric and hostile environment in the Aggies' first game in the league.

“We've got some things as an entire football team that we need to go back and need to pay attention to the details in what we need to do to improve our football team,” Muschamp said. “Our players understand what we need to do.

“They knew all summer going into the season that we had a lot of respect for Bowling Green. They had a bunch of starters back. They had a quarterback who threw for over 3,000 yards (last season).

“We knew that going into the season, but we also knew we were going to College Station the second game.”

Note: ESPN's College GameDay will broadcast from College Station on Saturday, marking UF's nation-leading 33rd appearance on the program, which airs from 10 a.m. to noon.

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

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