The Mark Miller Report: Developing Driskel

Ahh, you just have to love the offseason. I have already seen three threads on Gator Country discussing the quarterback situation, which is going to be a hot topic all summer long I presume. The quality of the Gators’ quarterback play will play a huge role in Florida’s success this season, or lack thereof. It is safe to say that some coaches’ futures are riding on it.

It would seem that quite a few Gator fans have written Jeff Driskel off completely and are already pondering which of the incoming freshmen will win the starting job. I tend to disagree. The Gator coaching staff postponed spring practice for a reason and that reason was to give Jeff the largest amount of time possible to be at full strength for spring drills. Will Muschamp and Kurt Roper fully expect Driskel to be the starter this fall. And so do I.

At the risk of kicking a dead horse, I will state my beliefs about Driskel one more time. I think Jeff is very talented. I think he has gotten a bad rap because of poor offensive coordinating, even poorer offensive line play, poor development and some bad luck. Some Gator fans have made a strong judgment of Jeff based on what they saw last season. However, he missed nearly all of the August camp due to surgery which means he failed to get much needed reps to perfect timing with receivers and to polish his own abilities. I know I keep hearing that he cannot read defenses. But, I have yet to see any film replays where he had much time to make a read and when you are constantly running for your life in the backfield it becomes nearly impossible to go through your progressions on the rare occasions when you do have the time.

If Roper brings an effective offensive scheme and is able to work successfully with Mike Summers to improve the offensive line play I believe that Driskel can be very successful this season (barring injury). I also believe that the coaching staff will make every effort possible to avoid starting a true freshman quarterback. I know, I know, there are examples of true freshman quarterbacks being successful in the SEC but those are the exception and certainly not the rule. And I believe you will find that in virtually every case the coaches had no choice. If Driskel is healthy and isn’t completely inept, this staff will have a choice and they will take that choice.

Which means that, in my opinion, the real question is what will be the situation at backup quarterback? If 2013 taught us anything it taught us that you must prepare depth for even the most unthinkable injury circumstances. The Florida Gators signed two quality quarterback prospects in the 2014 class in Will Grier and Treon Harris. Grier was named Parade Player of the Year. Harris excelled against tough south Florida competition and led Booker T Washington High School to the national championship. Both of these young men have all of the tools to be successful at the collegiate level. At least one of them will have be play as the backup quarterback this season. It would be best for the future if one of them is afforded the luxury to redshirt.

The early thought process would have Grier as the most likely to redshirt since he and his family stated a desire to redshirt early in the recruiting process. One has to wonder if that is still the desire with another top freshman quarterback in the class. Grier may wish to battle for the backup spot this season in order to avoid falling behind his competition in the future. Top athletes are as good as they are because of their competitive nature, neither is likely to willingly take the back seat in this competition. This is not necessarily a bad thing for either young man or the Gators. Strong competition tends to facilitate faster and better development and it is important that at least one of them is ready to lead the Gators in the event that Driskel gets injured. He has been injured in the past multiple times. Based on 2013, Florida may need both of them before next season is over. Hopefully, an improved offensive line will keep all of the quarterbacks healthy. The rest will sort itself out on the field and should be interesting to witness.

All three of the above mentioned quarterbacks are capable of making plays with their arms or their legs, which gives Roper more leeway with his offense. Of course, there are other QBs on the roster already but I believe that last season made it clear that they are not real options as long term starters. For the Gators to get to where they want to be, one of these three will have to step up and lead the team.

Gator fans need to be patient and let the process play out. Drawing early conclusions in this may well lead to frustration and aggravation later. I hope that Gator fans will not line up behind one of the quarterbacks or another and create an unhealthy atmosphere around the program again. I believe Florida has the right staff in place to evaluate the talent available effectively and put the players on the field that give the Gators the best chance to win. In the end, that is all that any fan can hope for.

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Mark Miller
Mark Miller's bravery knows no limits. He's a Gator living deep in the heart of Georgia. Mark's weekly columns appear in the Coosa Valley News in Rome, Georgia, where Gators are few and Bulldogs are many. His updates about football and life among the heathens will appear in Gator Country on a weekly basis.


  1. Here we go again. Once more we hear that Driskel “is very talented.” The reason he sucks is not because of him, “it’s “poor offensive coordinating, offensive line play, development, and bad luck.” The writer isn’t able to see the most obvious reason, it’s the player himself. To be a good quarterback you need to be able to process information quickly, make good decisions, and be accurate. Driskel does none of these. He can throw the ball and has good arm strength, the problem is that he is not accurate. He does occasionally put the ball where it’s supposed to go. We saw that in the Miami game where he would make a great throw and you’d think that he is improved, but then his next pass would not even be close. Why anyone would say he’s very talented is beyond me. It certainly isn’t base on his performance on the field. The problem is that too many Gator fans, like this writer, have so much invested in Driskel that they can’t see the obvious and simplest reason why Driskel sucks. He is a poor quarterback, even a blind man can see that. But like the person who continues to pour money into a losing investment because they can’t come to grips with the realization that all the money they put in is gone, Fans like this writer keep doubling down in the vain hope that there are these outside forces, “bad luck” is a very common excuse. It’s one of the best because it doesn’t need empirical evidence and “good luck” is just around the corner. When the real season starts in the fourth game, how long will it take for people to finally concede that the money’s gone and it’s stupid to keep putting more in?

    • Here we go again, you bashing Driskel. You have to be blind, stupid or a nole to not realize he has talent. Next year we will be talking about how Driskel is thriving under Ropers system. Go back to the nole boards where you can all talk about how great the noles and the rapist are.

  2. You’ve made your point Snoprinr….you think Driskel is horrible…we get it. Enough already. I’ll take the opinion of talent evaluators and people who actually get paid to do the evaluating, than a blogging meatball. Driskel has shown flashes of being a very good QB in spots….and there I is no denying that the OL didn’t help him out….and the play calling was predictable, unimaginative and puzzling. Driskel may never live up to the #1 QB ranking out of HS….but he is talented enough for us to win with him. He can be effective with good coaching . I’m sorry, Brantly, Brissett and Driskel….I’m not buying that they are all terrible QBs. If we strike out on 3rd one you have to look at coaching.

  3. For those or you who think I’m out of line, here’s this. “I think he’s making up his mind where he’s going with the football. I mean he looked right at Frankie Hammond. They had a high-low coverage, bracket coverage. He (Frankie Hammond) runs right into the safety and he’s throwing it, no matter what. He’s not reading the defense and he’s not surveying the field. It’s very easy for a zone defense to read and break on the football.” That was spoken by Chris Spielman. He probably knows more than you or I about football. There was no problem with the offensive line and it happened in the Sugar Bowl so there wasn’t a lack of preparation as well. Pease actually wanted to open up the offense, but it’s hard to do when you have Driskel. Now you can hide your head in the sand and blame everything except the real reason. I just gave you an “expert” and I haven’t heard anyone say Jeff Driskel is a good quarterback except for those with rose-colored glasses. They may have said he has the potential to be a good quarterback. But you know where potential gets you. It’s pretty clear to me, I just wonder why so many people think differently, but you’re entitled to your opinion.