The long, sometime arduous wait for the new full-time Florida Gators starter for the 2012 season is finally at an end.
Jacoby Brissett is always one snap away from regaining his starting spot for the Gators, but Jeff Driskel is working hard and is focused on one and only one thing: Leading his Gators to a road victory over Texas A&M.
So focused is he, in fact, that Gator Nation found out before his own mother did.
On the Monday following the Florida Gators’ too-close-for-comfort victory over Mid-American Conference opponent Bowling Green, reporters and other various members of the media were out in droves. Everyone was looking to pick coaches and players’ brains regarding what their thoughts were on the less-then-stellar performance.
Microphones were switched on, little red lights on recording devices burned brightly in the artificial light of the conference room, and several TV cameras were all focused in.
One guy who made an appearance, however, was only there for a few minutes, took no notes, did not record a thing and quickly made his way back out of the room.
That would be Jeff Driskel, freshly minted Florida Gators starting quarterback.
His coach, Will Muschamp, was the first to feed the sharks (yours truly included of course) by finally making a definitive statement as to who was going to be his team’s leading signal-caller in the week two matchup with Texas A&M and beyond.
“As we move to next week we’re going to start Jeff Driskel vs. A&M … I told Jeff, ‘I don’t want you looking over your shoulder but you need to play well.’ … Both of them handled it professionally and the way you’re supposed to handle it. They’ve handled this whole competition that way. I just felt like at this time it’s good to move forward with naming one guy and go with it. I thought Jeff did a good job Saturday as well as Jacoby.”
The 2011 football season was a learning experience for everyone involved. Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, both true freshmen at the time, learned how to deal with playing in front of tens of thousands, if not 100,000 raucous SEC fans in the various cathedrals to college football that are Southern home stadiums.
The first year coaching staff learned how to deal with grooming two young, entirely inexperienced quarterbacks while dealing with the mounting pressure to put a watchable product on the field.
Of course, the fans learned to deal with one less-than-stellar performance after another.
The season drew mercifully to a close with an encouraging win over Ohio State, in the Taxslayer.com Bowl as opposed to the BCS National Championship Game, however. While the coaching staff was forced to clean up the mess and try to appease a disheartened fan base, Jeff Driskel got to work on preparing for the 2012 season.
It was the only thing he could do.
After playing terribly in limited time in 2011, after falling behind Brissett in the middle of the season, the only solution was to put in the hours, and hours and hours, necessary to be a productive starting quarterback in the Southeastern Conference.
It was not easy, but sometimes it just takes a village to raise a quarterback: “After the Auburn game, when Jacoby played the first half and I played the second half and they thought that he was doing a little bit better job than me. That’s when they told me and obviously it was tough, but, didn’t let it get to me too much … I mean, at first, I was real upset and going through a real tough time, but I had the support of family and friends. Just stayed working hard.”
Now that the job is 100-percent his for the time being, one might assume this, as early as it is in the week, would be a great time to stop, take a deep breath and celebrate.
But we all know what assuming does.
Driskel understands that his nomination is a dream come true for him. However, he was not treating the determination as the end, but simply as the beginning. In his very next sentence, Driskel was quick to point out the task at hand.
“It’s been a lifelong dream to be a quarterback at a university like this. I’m just excited to really be able to take command of the offense and really tone in on what I got to do. Be ready to go to win in Texas A&M.”
Yes, this is laser focus, but some might be quick to dismiss his statements as simply another in the never-ending string of cliché athletic quote-ables.
Except, remember that whole thing about how it takes a village to raise a quarterback?
Driskel was working so hard to get ready for the Aggies that he had not even taken a moment to call his own mother.
“The media, you guys, are probably the ones who go it out to my parents first. I’m going to call them soon after this, but I had to go workout. Right from the meeting to work out and then attend here.”
Now that is laser-focused.