“We would not have won 11 games without Jeff Driskel as our quarterback.”
Will Muschamp said that – he’s actually said it on several occasions – while speaking at his first Gator Club Gathering in Gainesville this summer.
Muschamp is right. Jeff Driskel was the quarterback for Florida and did win 11 games. While the team relied on defense, special teams and a powerful running game, the offense would have looked very different with someone else at quarterback.
When Driskel was announced as the starter before the Texas A&M game last season, the coaching staff cited his mobility as the main factor separating him from Jacoby Brissett. If we’re being honest, Driskel didn’t exactly use his mobility as effectively as he should have last season. The Gators gave up the most sacks (39) of any team in the SEC and ranked No. 115 out of 124 teams in sacks allowed. Some of that can be placed squarely on the shoulders of an offensive line that, at time, was as porous as a sponge. However, a lot of that blame can be put on Driskel as he struggled to go through progressions and showed below average pocket presence.
The Gators didn’t ask Driskel to win games because they didn’t need him to. Simply put, Driskel was an average quarterback who protected the football and did what the coaching staff wanted him to do. For the most part, he didn’t take risks that hurt the team, other than a bad interception at Georgia before halftime.
But what about this season? Are the Gators good enough on defense and special teams to allow Driskel to have another average season? If Driskel doesn’t improve in 2013, can the Gators get by with a one-dimensional offense for a second season in a row?
The answer is no.
Yes, Florida went 11-2 in 2012 but that wasn’t without some luck along the way. With an improved offensive line, a dominant running game and a full year as a starter under his belt with the same offensive coordinator for a second season in a row, Driskel should be better in 2013.
At least one player, Loucheiz Purifoy, thinks that Driskel has already taken the next step in his development.
“He got way better,” Purifoy said of Driskel. “He’s throwing way better, he’s got targets he can throw to now. He’s leading the offense and we’re behind him 100%.”
Driskel won’t be asked to throw for 300 yards a game. That’s not the style of offense you’ll see with Will Muschamp as head coach. But Driskel can still get better at little things like knowing when to take a sack rather than trying to create something out of nothing. Something as small and simple as throwing the ball away rather than running out of bounds for a loss of yards is part of the maturation process in football. Those are two things that Driskel must improve this off season and things that should become second nature as he becomes more comfortable with the speed of the game and playbook.
For the most part, Florida will be able to win games with solid defense and a productive running attack. But there will be a time, probably a couple of times, that Driskel will have to win a game for Florida with his arm. The coaching staff is excited about the progress he has made thus far and he has 99 more days to get better before toe meets leather and the games start to count.