'Dream' opportunity at UF for Driskel
Published: Monday, September 3, 2012 at 4:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 3, 2012 at 5:42 p.m.
Florida's unsettled situation at quarterback has been settled.
Jeff Driskel is the starting quarterback.
UF coach Will Muschamp made the announcement at his weekly Monday news conference, ending an eight-month battle for the starting role between Driskel and fellow true sophomore Jacoby Brissett.
“It's nothing Jacoby did not do. I just feel like Jeff with his legs gives us different variables in our offense that can help us as we move forward,” Muschamp said. “So, it will be Jeff's game to play (at Texas A&M on Saturday). I told Jeff, ‘I don't want you looking over your shoulder, but you need to play well.'
“And certainly know that Jacoby is certainly capable of playing very well. I've got confidence in both guys, can win with both. They handled it professionally. They've handled this whole competition that way.
“I just felt at this time it's good to move forward with naming one guy and go with it.”
There were indications Saturday that this is the direction Muschamp was heading with the quarterbacks.
Driskel played the entire second half against Bowling Green after the two quarterbacks each played a quarter in the first half. Brissett played only three brief series and attempted only five passes, completing three.
Driskel, the faster and more mobile of the two quarterbacks, completed 10 of 16 passes for 114 yards and threw a critical 50-yard touchdown pass to Frankie Hammond Jr. early in the fourth quarter that extended UF's lead to 24-14.
Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease met on Sunday and decided to go with Driskel as the full-time starter. Driskel and Brissett were informed of the decision Monday morning, about an hour before Muschamp met with the media.
“It's been a lifelong dream to be a quarterback at a university like this,” Driskel said. “I'm just excited to really be able to take command of the offense and really zone in on what I've got to do. Be ready to go to win at Texas A&M.
“(Muschamp) just wants me to go out there and play and not worry about looking over my shoulder. He wants me to play loose and calm, and that's what I'm going to do.”
It will be Driskel's first start for the Gators at quarterback.
Monday's announcement ends what has been a neck-and-neck competition for the starting role that dates back to January.
“Total process from offseason to spring practice to training camp and into Saturday,” Muschamp said. “It's not just a knee-jerk reaction. It's a total process, and again, a very difficult decision.
“Both guys are very deserving. Both guys are really good football players. But at the end of the day, I felt we needed to name a guy and move forward.”
Muschamp said Driskel's mobility and running ability played a role in the decision.
“I certainly think it played a big part of that,” he said. “The quarterback run game creates issues for a defense. I think in the development of our offense, that's certainly something that's going to benefit us.”
Muschamp said that barring injury, Driskel will play the entire game Saturday in College Station.
“Jeff needs to play well,” he said. “But I told him you don't have to be looking over your shoulder. Jacoby needs to understand he's one snap away.”
Driskel and Brissett have been sharing reps with the No. 1 offense dating back to last spring. Muschamp said that was good for the competition, but it hurt in terms of the quarterbacks gaining experience.
Now, Driskel will take the majority of the practice snaps with the first-team offense.
“The negative for both players is experience,” Muschamp said. “They don't have that. That's partly my fault for splitting reps.
“We needed to move forward and name a starter. Jacoby will still get reps. He'll certainly be ready when he's called on.”
Driskel said he had not had a chance to talk to Brissett since Muschamp revealed the decision to the two players, who have said throughout the competition that they are friends, and plan to remain that way.
“I haven't actually had any time to talk to anybody,” Driskel said. “I'm not sure (if it will be awkward talking to Brissett). That's something that is going to stay between us. So, I'm not really sure about that.”
Muschamp and Driskel said the competition would be ongoing, just like it is at every position. But for the first time in eight months, it's clear who the starting quarterback is at Florida.
“(Muschamp) is telling me, you know, with a guy like Jacoby still there, he doesn't want me looking over my shoulder, he doesn't want me pressing or worrying about each play,” Driskel said. “He just wants me to go out there and play loose and play the way I know I can and have fun.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.