Florida Gators Hopes Ride on Jeff Driskel

By Joshua Cook

Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel is the biggest deciding factor in college football for 2013.

The junior quarterback played well in 2012, even though he seemed to be on a tight leash. Florida’s coach Will Muschamp is very defensive minded, as the offense was focused on ball control in 2012. With Driskel having a full season of starts under his belt, the timing seems perfect for Muschamp to turn him loose offensively.

Driskel has all the tools to be a huge star: speed, accuracy, decision-making and leadership. The Gator quarterback displayed all of these assets during the 2012 campaign. Last August, he beat out quarterback Jacoby Brissett to earn the starting role, as they were slated to split time until one emerged as the go-to signal caller. Driskel went on to complete about 64-percent of passes and threw just five interceptions. He also beat Vanderbilt by running for 177 yards and three scores.

The Gator quarterback did struggle against heavy pass rushes, but that was mostly due to the offensive line having difficulties. Florida finished tied for 106th in the country when it came to protecting quarterbacks, allowing three sacks per game. That offensive line is showing to be much improved through Spring, so Driskel will have more time to throw and more room to run.

Driskel also did not run as much as he should have. He has the skills to beat teams solely with his legs, but Muschamp handcuffed his quarterback in order to develop his ability as a passer. Those handcuffs should be off this year, as Driskel now has the experience and understanding of his role on the offense. Being able to throw more will open up many windows for big runs, big numbers, and big wins, as he builds big leads for the great Florida defense to protect.

The most impressive statistic on the quarterback’s resume is the interceptions. In the 10 wins that Driskel started, he threw just one interception. The other four picks came in the team’s only two losses to Georgia and Louisville. However, even when making those mistakes, the Gators were still in good position to win as they lost both games by a combined 19 points.

Driskel will have the keys to offense this season, and with all of his skills and abilities, he is a match-up nightmare for defenses. Driskel will decide the fate of the SEC, as he can lead his team to victory over any, and all, opponents in 2013 in route to, perhaps, the SEC’s eighth-consecutive national title.

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