Who will back up Jeff Driskel?

The 2014 season is right around the corner and this season is all about Jeff Driskel and the Florida Gators offense. Kurt Roper was brought in to change things up offensively and Driskel has looked the part of the five-star recruit. Will Muschamp and Jabari Gorman noted that Driskel hasn’t thrown an interception in any team drills this offseason and that the redshirt junior’s decision making has taken a big step forward.

While there is no question about who will start at quarterback for Florida, there is a huge question mark about who will back him up. Driskel’s injury history leaves reason to be concerned and the Florida coaching staff knows they need to establish a backup and get that player ready to play meaningful snaps this season.

They don’t, however, know who that will be just yet.

“We’d like to (play him), by the second quarter, whoever ends up being the guy and go from there,” Muschamp said. “I think that that, again, giving game situation, kind of like we did our first year.”

The “first year” that Muschamp is referring to was his first in Gainesville. John Brantley was the established starting quarterback but the Gators used a freshman Driskel in the season opener against FAU and again the next week against UAB.

Kurt Roper used two quarterbacks at Duke and it was presumed he would carry that over here at Florida. While Florida may use two quarterbacks, don’t expect to see a big timeshare at the position according to Roper.

“You know, really where it all started, (was when) Sean Renfree became our starting quarterback at Duke. Sean was obviously a heck of a quarterback; he’s with the Falcons right now. But his skill wasn’t running the football,” Roper said. “It wasn’t going to be zone read or quarterback powers or any of that, it wasn’t really his skill. So we felt like those were good situations to bring in Brandon Connette at that time to get our numbers right in certain situations and run the football. So we felt like it was a package that we needed in low red, short yardage, that type stuff.”

Driskel, unlike Winfrey, is adept at running the football. He’s looked much better as a passer this offseason, so the need to play a second quarterback to “get numbers right” situationally isn’t as pressing at Florida as it was for Roper at Duke.

Still, with a plan in place to get a clear backup for Driskel. Skyler Mornhinweg, Will Grier and Treon Harris have all competed this fall to earn that job but there is no clear distinction between them, or at least, not a clear enough distinction for one of them to seize the job.

Will Grier and Treon Harris are battling for the backup job behind Jeff Driskel. / Photo by David Bowie
Will Grier and Treon Harris are battling for the backup job behind Jeff Driskel. / Photo by David Bowie

Muschamp mentions three quarterbacks but based on the reps this fall, the race is really down to just Grier and Harris. Both are sons of football coaches and played for their fathers in high school. Both had success, winning state championships and setting records at their respective schools. They are similar in many ways but very different players on the field.

“I definitely see they want to give receivers a chance to make plays,” receiver Valdez Showers said. “They both have nice touch on the ball. Grier obviously has a quicker release. Treon has great touch. They definitely put the receivers in a position to make plays.”

Time is running out to make a decision. The Gators will kick off and begin the season in just eight days. That’s eight days to make a decision on who will take snaps behind Driskel.

Gator fans learned how important a backup quarterback can be last season. Hopefully, this season, the backup quarterback won’t be forced into a starting role just three weeks into the season but he will play and a decision needs to be made soon in order to get that player the necessary reps with the first team and second team offenses.

Valuable time is ticking.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC


  1. I think it’s decision about who will be the gators starter later this year. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t believe a word of the current hype about Driskel. You can call me jaded too, I’ve heard it all before. What finally convince me that Driskel will never be good was a particular play. It’s probably not one you’d think of, as well. It was his first fumble against Toledo last year. Toledo sent a defensive back on a blitz. It wasn’t to Driskel’s blind side. In fact, Driskel stared right at him. What did Driskel do? Nothing! He looked like a deer caught in headlights and meekly coughed up the football when he was touched. If you have an excuse for him on that play, well you still think it’s not his fault that he has been less than stellar so far. I hope I’m wrong, UF has three “exhibition” games to get him up to par before the “real” season starts. We’ve always heard that Driskel does well in practice, it’s the real games he has a hard time with. I hope that everyone can point at me and say I told you so. But words have little meaning when it comes to Jeff Driskel.

    • I’ve had my concerns about Driskel’s performance in the past and voiced them pretty specifically in Swamp Gas. But on the play you’re talking about, Snowprint, the RB (Brown I think) had responsibility for that blitz pick up and just missed it.

      Driskel tried to execute the play assuming the blitz pick up would be made. I don’t think that should be held against him. In fact it demonstrated confidence in his team mate.

      JD improved last year over 2012, and I see no reason he shouldn’t continue to improve. My main concern is his mental approach / attitude in big moments. He needs to know he’s the man and make plays. And his teammates need to know he’s the man and believe in him. If that comes together with the other things they’ve been working on in this offense, we could have a huge year.