Jeff Driskel Vs. Connor Shaw—Getting Ready for South Carolina Gamecocks Vs. Florida Gators

By Phil Clark

The quarterback is expected to be the leader of a football team’s offense and, if possible, the team. Most of the time this happens. In this weekend’s SEC showdown between the Florida Gators and South Carolina Gamecocks, each team’s quarterback will be expected to be such a leader. With both in the top ten of the first BCS standings, this game is vital to both team’s national championship hopes.

For the Gators, Jeff Driskel seems to be attempting to up his game each time he steps on the field this season. His performances have been getting increasingly better whether it’s more passing yards or more rushes and touchdowns running or even intangibles that aren’t identified as easily through stat sheets, like Driskel’s performance against the LSU Tigers.

Unless it’s been a game where the Gators are better off running the ball more often than passing it, Driskel has been at or above 20 pass attempts per game. And with the offense that Driskel is working in, that seems to be a good number. Especially since those aren’t Driskel’s only touches in a game.

As a rusher, Driskel has also been getting better each game, though in this case the Tigers did stop him good. However, Driskel rebounded from that game with a superb rushing performance against the Vanderbilt Commodores this past weekend by rushing for 177 yards on just 11 carries and running for three touchdowns, including the game-clinching touchdown run from 70 yards.

If there’s one thing that Gamecocks’ quarterback Connor Shaw knows about, it’s being a rushing quarterback. That is part of the allure that made Steve Spurrier want to bring Shaw to the Gamecocks, and so far it’s worked out okay for Shaw. In games where Shaw has played and not shared duty with backup quarterback Dylan Thompson, Shaw has carried the ball at least twelve times a game and has made decent yardage with those carries for the most part.

The one thing the Gamecocks do need to worry about with Shaw might be his right shoulder. Earlier in the season, as indicated earlier, Shaw shared duty at quarterback and missed a game because of bruising to the shoulder. This is a big game with big stakes and that means that the Gator defense, especially with a home crowd behind them, will be coming after Shaw hard. Don’t be surprised if the Gator defense is as aggressive or more aggressive in this game than they were against the Tigers.

Through the air is where Shaw has really caught some fire this season. Against the Missouri Tigers, Shaw completed twenty straight passes after throwing an incompletion on his first pass attempt of the game. Shaw has thrown at least one touchdown in every game he’s played in this season other than the season opener against the Commodores. Even more positive for Gamecocks fan is that Shaw he has thrown at least two touchdowns in the last four games.

So what is the secret to stopping both from being successful? The answer to that question may come Wednesday when I look over the running backs that will be key to this game.

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