Driskel looking forward to new offense


Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation after breaking his lower leg early last season.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 12:26 a.m.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel hasn’t seen the playbook yet, hasn’t even had a serious discussion with Kurt Roper about the new up-tempo offense the coordinator is bringing to Florida.

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Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation after breaking his lower leg early last season.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

But Driskel apparently has already seen enough, and heard enough, to be extremely pumped about the possibilities.

Driskel watched Duke’s impressive offensive performance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Texas A&M. More than just once. And he’s been watching tape of other Duke games to get a feel for Roper’s offense — and the feeling is very positive.

“I watched the bowl game live,” Driskel said Tuesday. “They were scoring at will, left and right, throwing it deep, running it down their throats. They were coming at them from all angles.

“Then I had a chance to sit down and watch it again and it was even more impressive when it wasn’t live and I wasn’t talking to other people. It was pretty cool, pretty exciting.

“It’s kind of cool to watch the game and envision some of the things we might be doing.”

Driskel said he’s eager to dive into the new offense (and the new playbook), but before he does, he and Roper both have some unfinished business. Roper has to help coach Will Muschamp close out the recruiting season. And Driskel needs to complete his rehab from a broken lower leg he sustained in the third game of the season last fall.

After months of rigorous rehab (and lots of frustration watching the Gators struggle through a 4-8 season), Driskel says he can see the finish line.

“I’m almost 100-percent sure that I’ll be full go by spring,” he said. “When I had the surgery, they said (it was) about a five- or six-month process. March 25 will have been six months, and we start (spring practice) on the 18th or 19th.

“They say it’s a little bit ahead of schedule. I should be fine by then.”

Driskel is walking around now with no apparent limp and has been able to work out and do some throwing. But he still has not been cleared for any high-impact work with his lower body.

“I can’t run or jump, but I’m going to get looked at by the doctor sometime this week,” Driskel said. “That’s basically all I can’t do. If you’d asked me a month ago what I couldn’t do, it would have been a longer list. It’s nice to be able to walk around and work out.

“(Running and jumping) is the next step. I’ll get looked at by the doctor in a couple days and go from there.”

With a new offensive coordinator on board and a new offense to learn, Driskel said it’s important to be ready for the start of spring practice.

“It’s huge,” he said. “You can be in meetings all you want, but until you do it, you can’t get a full grasp of it. It’s the first time anybody will see the new offense. It’s huge to be able to go through that so we really know what we’re doing during the summer when the coaches aren’t around.”

Driskel hasn’t even begun the learning process yet. But there already are some things he knows about Roper and his offense, he said: It is up-tempo with a lot of no huddle; the read option and the quarterback running is part of the scheme; Roper builds the offense around the skills of the players, especially the quarterback; and he has a reputation for developing quarterbacks.

“He’s had a great track record with his past quarterbacks,” Driskel said. “(Three) of the last six have gone to the NFL (Eli Manning, Thad Lewis and Sean Renfree), something like that. Some people I’ve talked to that have been around him have all spoken highly of him. I’m very happy. I’m excited to work with Coach Roper.

“Coach Roper is going to do what the quarterback can do. His offense plays to the players’ strengths.”

Driskel was the nation’s No.1-rated dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school. He’ll move back into that dual role after playing in a pro-style offense the past two seasons.

“I’ll be comfortable (in the offense),” he said. “I’ve done the zone read. I’ve done it the past couple of years. I did it in high school.”

Driskel said he’s not concerned about the injury risk in running the ball more.

“If you worry about injuries, you can’t play full speed. And if you’re not playing full speed, that’s when injuries happen,” he said. “You’ve got to trust in your rehab and trust you’re good to go if the doctors clear you.

“(Running) was always part of my game. I am excited about the zone read aspect Coach Roper is going to bring. It will be helpful for our team.”

For Driskel and the Gators, the spring signifies a new start, and a chance to file away an injury-filled, 4-8 season.

“It was a tough year for us all around,” he said. “We did have a lot of injuries. But like Coach Muschamp said the whole way, that’s not an excuse. Every team goes through injuries. Maybe not like we did.

“You’ve still got to go out and play well, which we didn’t do. We didn’t score a lot of points. We’ll get that turned around this year.”

Driskel said the Gators are highly motivated.

“Guys aren’t hanging their heads,” he said. “They’re coming to work out hard. You don’t want to go 4-8. That’s not why you come to Florida. The upcoming seniors don’t want to go out like that and leave that as their legacy, an underachieving team.

“Guys are working hard and we’re going to get back to where we should be.”

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

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