Over the next six days, Gator Country will preview the players that make up the 2013 Florida Gators football team as we inch closer and closer to the season.
Each day we will count down using the player whose jersey number corresponds with how many days there are left until Florida kicks off against Toledo in The Swamp on August 31.
Today we have a two-pack of players to bring you, but first let’s take a look at junior quarterback Jeff Driskel.
Jeff Driskel was the top-ranked quarterback in the 2011 recruiting class. Driskel chose Florida over offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
Driskel enrolled at Florida early and despite having a senior quarterback on the depth chart ahead of him, was thrust into action as a freshman. Driskel played in mop-up duty against FAU, UAB and Kentucky before taking over for an injured John Brantley against Alabama. Driskel sprained his ankle against Alabama and would only play one more half of football the rest of the season.
Last season, Driskel won the starting quarterback job over Jacoby Brissett and led the Gators to an 11-2 record and a BCS bowl game. Driskel broke Tim Tebow’s single-game rushing yards record when he ran for 177 yards against Vanderbilt last season. While his play drove Gator fans crazy at times, Driskel did a good job managing the Gators and they wouldn’t have finished as well as they did without him at quarterback. Without Brissett on the roster, Driskel’s importance on the team takes on a whole new importance.
You can’t talk about Driskel’s strengths without starting with his mobility — after all, his mobility is the reason he won the starting job last season.
At 6’4” 240-pounds, Driskel runs much better than most people his size. He has great speed for someone of his size, is elusive and almost always falls forward when he’s tackled. He’s capable of escaping the pocket when things break down and can extend plays and drives based on his mobility.
Driskel has a very strong arm and a quick release. When he sets his feet and is comfortable in the pocket, he can deliver precise, accurate passes to his receivers.
Driskel struggles with his accuracy at times. He tends to let passes fly a little bit on him and as a result, sails passes over his receiver’s heads. This happens when Driskel’s footwork breaks down and he doesn’t shift his weight through the throw properly.
Driskel has to continue progressing as a quarterback. He uses his mobility well but needs to use better decision making of when to use his mobility and when to stay in the pocket. A lot of times when his first read isn’t open, Driskel gets happy feet in the pocket rather than continuing through his progressions.
Driskel also needs to do a much better job of recognizing and identifying defenses at the line of scrimmage.
What to Expect
Being able to study the same playbook for two years will benefit, and already has benefitted, Driskel. Watching Driskel interact with the offense, you can see he has taken on a new leadership role and is commanding the offense with a new authority.
If Driskel can learn to go through his progressions quicker, learn to play calm in the pocket and have a better “fight or flight” reaction of when to take off versus hanging in the pocket and waiting for something to develop, he could lead the Gators to a very successful season.