HOOVER, Ala.– Jeff Driskel is coming off of a weekend of work at the Manning passing academy. At the camp, Driskel honed his skills under the watchful eyes of football’s version of the Kennedy family.
The pressure is now firmly on the junior quarterback. Fans expect him to take the jump from game manager to playmaker. This offseason is 180 degrees from last year’s. There is no Jacoby Brissett breathing down his neck, there is no QB controversy for fans to salivate over. Instead, there is a passing game that was mediocre at best last season, and a signal caller that is focusing on simply not giving the ball to the other team every time he drops back. This, among other reasons, is why Driskel’s time at the Manning camp is so important.
“I wanna say over half the SEC quarterbacks were there. It was really cool to get to know everybody as people. You know the faces, but you don’t know the people behind the facemasks. It was cool to get to know everybody and talk about our experiences,” Driskel said.
Experience is something hard to quantify, but it’s important. The war stories of taking snaps on Saturdays in the south in front of 100,000 people are something only 14 young men are able to tell each year. Having most of those guys in a room breaking down tape, or on the field making throws together, is an invaluable experience for Driskel. It’s a chance to learn and grow not only under the tutelage of Peyton, Eli and Arichie Manning, but also his peers, those he can relate to and bounce ideas off of about what worked and what didn’t week in and week out.
“I’ve watched Aaron Murray, he does a great job in play action and he sells it well,” he said of the Georgia QB and future NFL draft pick.
Driskel sees Georgia as his biggest rival and the Bulldogs battered and bruised him last year, sacking him five times. They also intercepted him twice, including a crucial mistake towards the end of the first half with Florida mounting a drive to score.
Georgia is Florida’s biggest obstacle, in many people’s opinion, on the road to Atlanta; it’s a hump the junior knows he’ll have to get over.
“We were right there at the end of the game with a chance to tie the game or possibly win the game. You can’t turn the ball over, especially in crucial situations like I did, and you’ve gotta play well in every SEC game to win. We’re ready, and we’re excited to get them this year,” Driskel said.
November 2nd on the banks of the St. Johns River, we’ll find out just how ready No. 6 and his bunch really are.