Driskel's development at QB for UF


Florida's Jeff Driskel sets to throw during the first half against Texas A&M at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, Saturday.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 4:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 4:33 p.m.

In charting the growth of his young quarterback, Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease is looking for obvious signs that progress is being made. He saw a big one Saturday in the fourth quarter in College Station.

“One of the reads, he hits the big pass to Omarius (Hines that led to the winning touchdown),” Pease said Tuesday. “So right then I’m like, OK, the kid’s growing up.”




Looking more like a veteran than a first-time starter, Driskel dropped in the pocket, made the correct read and threw a 39-yard strike to Hines down the right sideline to set up Mike Gillislee’s 12-yard touchdown run to give the Gators a 20-17 lead over Texas A&M.

Later in the game, Driskel had a crucial 21-yard run that helped the Gators burn the final three-plus minutes on the clock to preserve Florida’s victory.

On the day, Driskel completed 13 of 16 passes for 162 yards — and, by all accounts, finished the game a better and more confident quarterback than when he started it.

“I think going into the game, he had a little nerves,” Pease said. “But I think he settled down. The thing I saw from him, as the game went along, he got better, he got more comfortable. He started seeing things on the defense better.

“There’s definitely still some things he has to work on, that anybody would have to. Getting rid of the ball. Sometimes he was trying to make too much happen throwing the ball when he just needed to use his feet. Once he started doing that he broke the defense down a little bit and made some plays for us and kept drives alive.”

This is how the whole maturation process is supposed to go. The true sophomore should grow with repetition and competition. Sometimes, it will come in spurts. Other times, it may be with almost imperceptible baby steps.

His performance Saturday in a hostile environment certainly seems like a positive first step as Driskel and the offense try to grow together over the course of the season.

Pease said Driskel will become more comfortable and more efficient the more he plays.

“No doubt, that’s a natural progression that anybody has, not just in a quarterback position,” Pease said. “More reps and being in that situation where the crowd is on you and the other team, the more he gets, the better he’s going to get. That’s for anybody that’s out there.

“There’s some reads he has to grow with it. When he got in the game the other day, I probably had a little more apprehension. And finally I just reason, we’ve got to go with it, we’ve got to do it. If he can’t, we’ve got to get him used to this stuff.”

That’s about the time in the game that Driskel hit Hines in stride for perhaps the Gators’ most critical offensive play of the day.

For the most part, Driskel handled what Pease gave him in the offense Saturday. He’ll likely be given more of the playbook at Tennessee this Saturday.

The more he shows he can do, the more he’ll get.

“I’m confident,” Driskel said. “I was confident going into last week as well. But 2-0 is obviously better than 1-0, and we made big plays when we needed to, so we’re definitely confident going in.”

Driskel’s starting debut was solid and encouraging — and something to grow on. But it was not without its obvious flaws.

Driskel had a tendency to hold the ball too long in the pocket and lock in on his primary receiver. As a result, he was sacked eight times. Pease said Tuesday that Driskel could have avoided six of those sacks by throwing the ball away.

“He’s got to learn,” Pease said. “You’re in a situation you can either throw the ball away or run. Like the one where (Caleb) Sturgis had to kick the 51-yard field goal. He lost seven on that (trying to run).

“You’re out of the pocket, you can throw it away, take the incompletion.”

Driskel said his first game has been a good learning experience. He has plenty to work on this week heading into his second game.

“Just knowing that you don’t have to make a play every time, don’t be scared to throw the ball away, live another day,” Driskel said. “I’ve got to learn from that. I took too many sacks. And most of them were on me, so really, learning to throw the ball away and get it out quicker.

“I’m a young quarterback and I’ve got to learn from my experiences. Next week, you’ll definitely see me throw the ball away if I get in that situation.”

Driskel said he also needs to be better at looking off receivers instead of staring down his primary guy like he did several times Saturday.

“That was definitely a problem,” he said. “I definitely locked in a little bit, and that has something to do with being a new guy, and kind of having a running background.

“But just learning the offense, moving forward I’ll have a better understanding of our routes and where people are going to be. Not locking in on my first guy.”

For Driskel, it’s all part of the process. The growing process of a quarterback.

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

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