UF’s Driskel overcomes injury


Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel hands the ball off to running back Mack Brown against Miami during the first half at Sun Life Stadium on Sept. 7.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sune
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013 at 4:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 16, 2013 at 4:04 p.m.

Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel, who was on crutches a week ago, said the open date has given his slightly sprained knee a chance to fully recover and he should be good to go for Saturday’s SEC opener against Tennessee.

“It’s feeling good after a week off. Good timing,” he said. “It’s feeling a lot better now.”

Driskel said he injured his left knee in the second quarter in the loss to Miami on Sept. 7.

“It got high-lowed, got stuck in the ground a little bit. It could have been a lot worse, so that’s the good news,” he said. “It’s feeling a lot better now and I’ll be ready to go.”

Driskel said the injury did not affect his play in the second half of the UM game.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “A lot of adrenalin going during the game. I felt it, but not as much as I did after the game. I don’t think it affected me at all.”

UF coach Will Muschamp said the other players injured in the UM game — cornerback Marcus Roberson (knee), offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) and offensive tackle Tyler Moore (ankle) — should be fine for Saturday’s game.

“Tyler Moore is the only injured player that would have missed last weekend if we would have had a game,” he said. “I feel pretty good about him. He probably will not practice (Monday).

“We feel like everybody should be good. Tyler’s the only one that’s a little bit questionable right now, but I hope to get him back for some reps (today) and possibly Wednesday.”

The somewhat depleted offensive line receives a boost this week with the return of starting right guard Jon Halapio, who has been out since the start of preseason camp with a partially torn pectoral muscle. Muschamp said Halapio will start Saturday’s game.

Watkins steps in for Maye

Senior cornerback/safety Jaylen Watkins will start Saturday’s game at safety in place of redshirt freshman Marcus Maye, who was beaten on a 46-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter in the loss to Miami.

“You just can’t give up big plays,” Muschamp said. “We can’t afford that to happen. You’ve got to tackle better. Marcus knows that.

“Jaylen’s played well at safety for us. He will still play some corner. But he’s a guy that covers well. This will be mostly a sub game in nickel and dime personnel, so we need to be in some situations where we get our best cover people on the field.”

Jones ready to roll now

Starting tailback Matt Jones, who missed all of camp and the opener with a viral infection, said he was less than 100 percent in his return against Miami, but said he plans to be his old self against Tennessee after a good week of practice where he finally felt completely healthy.

“I definitely have big expectations,” said the true sophomore, who rushed for only 47 yards on 18 carries against the Hurricanes. “I want to take the team on my back now that I’m back and I feel I know how the game feels now. I have big expectations going into this game to run hard and trust myself, put the O-line first, trust (Jeff) Driskel and things like that.”

Jones said he’s regained the seven to 10 pounds he lost while he was sick.

TEs not in passing plan

The tight end has been no factor in the passing game this season after being the go-to position a year ago. The position has produced only one reception — a one-yarder by Tevin Westbrook.

“We're going to throw it to the guys who can make plays,” Muschamp said. “Last year, by design, Jordan Reed was our leading receiver because he was a playmaker. We're going to circle the guys who are going to make plays and yards after the catch.

“That's not been the strong point of that position at this point. We're going to get the ball more vertically to our (wide) receivers down the field. We had nine explosive plays in the last game, which is good. We're going to throw it to the guys who can make plays.”

Two-Bits role for SOS?

As ridiculous as it may sound, Muschamp was asked Monday what the chances are that Steve Spurrier could be the honorary Mr. Two Bits during one of South Carolina’s two open dates this season.

“You have to ask him that. No idea,” Muschamp said. “I don’t think he’d do it, personally. Does anybody want to ask him? He doesn’t allow some media people in his things. Go ask him. I don’t think he’ll do it is my answer.

“I’d be all for it. Absolutely. I’d like to see it, actually. Some of you would as well.”

Easley sings ‘Rocky Top’

Even though he says he doesn’t like the song, senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley said he will be singing “Rocky Top” on the field at some point during Saturday’s game, just as he’s done in past UF-UT games.

“Do I ever find myself singing it? Yeah,” he said. “Something gets so annoying, you’ve got to make the best out of it."

Easley said the only lyrics he knows are, “Rocky Top, Oh, Rocky Top.”

He said he doesn’t sing the song to taunt the UT players.

“They hear me. I don't know if they consider it a taunt,” he said. “I just do it for my own enjoyment."

Senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins said he’s glad he won’t have to hear “Rocky Top” anymore after his final UF-UT game Saturday.

“Yeah, it’s bittersweet,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve enjoyed my time here, but all of us hate ‘Rocky Top’. It’ll be good to not hear it anymore.”

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