The Florida Gators suffered through a miserable 4-8 season in 2013. Not only did the Gators have a losing record for the first time since 1979, they also had a number of key injuries that kept them from having a typical Florida football season.
The most notable of those injuries came to quarterback Jeff Driskel, a returning starter who was set to show improvement in 2013. Instead, Driskel injured his leg in the third game of the season, and missed the last nine games of 2013.
Driskel’s loss was a huge blow to the Gators last season. Not only did they lose a quarterback who had started 12 games the previous season. They also did not have a quality backup to step in and take Driskel’s place. Head coach Will Muschamp and (now former) offensive coordinator Brent Pease used both Tyler Murphy and Skyler Mornhinweg in relief of Driskel, but neither of the backups was able to run the offense with much efficiency.
Having seen what happened without him last season, the Gators can ill afford to lose Driskel again this season. That makes him the most important player for Florida this season. If Driskel is injured and/or ineffective, new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will have to be very creative to put enough points on the board to help the Gators win games.
Driskel is not spectacular, but he’s the best option for Florida at this time. In his career, Driskel has connected on 62.9 percent of his passes for 2,271 yards, with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has also rushed for 469 yards and five scores.
Roper will want Driskel to bring the interception number down quite a bit in 2014. If Driskel can stay healthy and limit his mistakes, he could lead Florida back into contention in the SEC. That’s why he is the most important player for the Gators this season.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.