When Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel went down with a season-ending injury back in September, most believed that it was no big deal and that the Gators would survive without him. However, now that Florida has lost four games in a row and is likely headed for a losing season it may be pertinent to ask whether it would have mattered to have Driskel at quarterback all season and if he could have been enough of a difference to get the Gators to a bowl game. Driskel was a big reason why Florida lost to the Miami Hurricanes, but had he not been hurt is it possible he could have been a reason why the Gators won a game they otherwise lost?
Driskel helped the Gators beat the LSU Tigers last season, and he certainly could have used that experience to help the Florida offense get on track against the LSU defense this year. An inexperienced Tyler Murphy was swarmed by the Tigers’ defense all game, something Driskel may have handled better. The Florida defense did its part that game, and a more effective offense could have given the Gators a chance to beat the Tigers the fourth quarter.
Florida’s loss to bitter rival Georgia is also a game that could have gone differently with Driskel on the field. There’s no denying that Driskel struggled against the Bulldogs last year, but he would have been in position to have more success against this year’s Georgia defense. Although Murphy helped rally the Gators in the second half the Florida offense was almost nonexistent in the first half, and had Driskel played and been able to generate some offense early in the game against a young Georgia defense the game could have gone a lot differently.
Finally, there’s Florida’s most recent loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Florida defense allowed less than 200 yards, but the Gators were doomed by four turnovers, all of which were committed by Murphy. While the Commodores deserve plenty of credit for the win it’s impossible not to wonder what would have happened had Driskel played for the Gators and been able to avoid turnovers. It certainly would have prevented Florida from getting blown out in embarrassing fashion.
So, what’s the verdict? Had Driskel not been injured would Florida be able to salvage a disappointing season with at least a bowl bid by winning at least one of the four games they’ve lost with Murphy at quarterback? It’s an intriguing proposition for frustrated Florida fans, and we could run through the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” all day. But Driskel wasn’t the only injured player on the Gators’ roster this year, and he was far from the most important.
Moreover, Driskel has done nothing in his career to give us anything close to a guarantee that he would have been a positive difference maker during Florida’s current four-game losing streak. The loss of Driskel may have made a bigger impact than we originally thought, but in the end it probably wouldn’t have made a difference. Even with Driskel the Gators would likely be in the exact same position they’re in now: starring down the barrel of a losing season.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.