Coming off of a heartbreaking 30-27 loss at the hands of LSU the Florida Gators will implement a two-quarterback system with Missouri coming into town this weekend for homecoming.
“They both will play this week,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “We’ll work through the week, and we’ll see how things go and we’ll see how it goes there. Right now Jeff will probably start but they’re both going to play.”
Driskel is coming off of what could be his best performance of the season — save for three turnovers. The redshirt junior completed 14-of-25 passes for 183 yards a touchdown and two interceptions. He also carried the burden of being Florida’s entire rushing attack, carrying the ball on 21 of Florida’s 21 rushing attempts against the Tigers.
Driskel said there was more designed quarterback runs in the gameplan but that LSU’s defense dictated he run the ball a little more than Florida had planned for him to.
Driskel’s rushing ability is what gave the Gators a chance to win last Saturday. He gritted out 71 rushing yards against a physical LSU defense that relished the opportunity to lay hits on a quarterback running in open space. However, in the end, it was Driskel’s poor decision to lead Latroy Pittman into traffic on a slant that led to an interception and gave LSU the opportunity to kick a game-winning field goal.
“We throw into coverage, probably should have taken the ball outside from the slants there late,” Muschamp said of the play.
It’s those ill-timed decisions that have plagued Driskel’s career and kept Florida from being a contender in the SEC East the past. According to Muschamp, the second quarterback in Florida’s two-quarterback system has shown the ability that Driskel has yet to show in four years.
“A guy that has shown the ability to make some plays,” Muschamp said of freshman quarterback Treon Harris. “[He] takes the ball in the right spots, accurate with his passes, has a certain confidence about him. I think that’s been something I’ve seen and noticed throughout his opportunities, though limited in game. But in practice, that’s something that really jumps out at you. It’s his playmaking ability to be able to make those things happen.”
Harris watched Florida’s loss to LSU from the coaches’ box with Kurt Roper after a taxing week where the quarterbacks’ name was drug through the mud under sexual assault allegations. The accusation was withdrawn on Friday but Harris had not practiced all week and the coaching staff — along with Harris — decided it would be best that Harris did not suit up for the game, or even stands on the sidelines. Harris was afforded the opportunity to see his team from a different vantage point and watch and listen to how and why Kurt Roper called the plays that he did.
Harris returned to practice Monday night. Harris provided the Gators a spark in a comeback win against Tennessee two weeks ago. Keanu Neal talked about how Harris has the “it factor” that so many people talk about.
“You saw it in the Tennessee game, he’s just comfortable in the pocket. He didn’t really panic when things went wrong,” Neal said. “He almost threw an interception and he didn’t panic and he stayed in and did a great job in the Tennessee game.”
To his credit, Driskel — who admitted to never having played in a two-quarterback system before — said all of the right things on Monday. Driskel has been as stand up of a guy as he possibly can this season amid a ton of criticism.
“Treon and I are both going to work hard this week. We’re both going to work for each other and we’re both going to hope that other person does well when they’re in. Obviously that’s something that we think that can help the team, so if it’s going to help the team, I’m all for it.”
Florida will enter the game this week with their first true two-quarterback system of the season.
The old saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks you actually have none. Here’s hoping at least one of the quarterbacks shows up this week and can keep the Gators in the race in the SEC East.