Last spring Florida was having a heated quarterback battle between Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett which, resulted in the two splitting reps.
This year it’s a lot different. Brissett has transferred to NC State and Driskel has a full year of starting under his belt. Entering the spring without a battle for the starting spot has been relaxing for Florida’s QB.
“It’s a lot different, last year obviously we did split reps but this year I’m the guy,” Driskel said on Tuesday. “I guess that does take a little bit off of my shoulders but at the end of the day you just have to go out and do what you can and worry about yourself.”
With knowing he is the starter, the confidence for Driskel is high but that has a lot to do with the work he has done off the field to prepare him for this spring.
“I’m confident, coming in very confident.”
“Every year I’ve gotten more comfortable. Like I’ve said all along, the more reps you get the more comfortable you’re going to be,” Driskel says. “I’ve put a lot of time in since the bowl game till when spring practice started, so I’m real comfortable.”
Driskel believes he is more comfortable on the field this year but he isn’t the only one who has taken notice, his teammates have started to see it as well.
“Driskel knows the offense a lot better,” Quinton Dunbar said. “He is more comfortable, he knows the coverages and protections so that will help in his performance on the field.
While the confidence is high, Driskel knows that there is still plenty of work to be done to fix the problems from last year’s team.
One of the main keys that Brent Pease touched on during his opening press conference was throwing to the running backs more.
That’s something that Driskel says the team is doing a better job of this spring.
“Matt Jones has done a great job so far, especially in protection and route running,” Driskel says. “Coach Pease mentioned that we have to get the ball to the back more and we’ve don’t that so far in spring practice. That’s going to be huge for us this year.”
If throwing the ball to the backs isn’t the biggest priority this spring, than getting rid of the ball earlier is.
Last season the Gators were sacked 39 times in 13 games, but Driskel believes that he is learning to get rid of the ball quicker.
“Getting the ball out quick is something we’ve emphasized a lot,” Driskel said. “I feel like I’ve done a good job with that and I’ve put a lot of time into protections. That’s definitely something that I still need to get better at but I can definitely tell that I’ve gotten better at it.”
This is especially true because of the amount of empty sets the Gators run as Driskel says opposing teams love to blitz when an empty formation is brought out.
Throwing the ball quicker is a key, but also pass protection from all positions is something that will cut down on Florida’s sacks allowed.
Many believe when you say the team has to do a better job pass protecting that it’s just the offensive line but as Driskel says, it’s a team effort.
“We had a lot of issues in protection whether it be the line or whether it be the backs or myself,” Driskel says. “We have put a lot of time into that and that’s something we’re emphasizing in the spring. We are going to get a lot better at that and cleanup some of the sack issues.”