The Florida Gators had a number of questions entering the 2012 college football season. Among those was the one everyone wanted answered the most: who will be the starting quarterback? Jacoby Brissett? Or Jeff Driskel?
Through the Spring and then the Fall, the question wasn’t answered. Head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease never waivered in their resolve to keep us guessing. Most likely, because they themselves didn’t know. Not long before the season opener against the Bowling Green Falcons, we learned Brissett and Driskel would each get one quarter in the first half. During halftime, the coaches would determine which one they would move forward with.
There was a ray of light at that point, even for those of us that didn’t like the idea of rotating the two during games that count. That ray was that we would at least know the name of the quarterback given the first quarter by the Thursday before the opener. That day came and went and suddenly it was no longer “there hasn’t been a clear cut leader,” but instead started to become “the coaches have no clue what they’re doing.”
Then the game came and, we really should have seen this coming, both quarterbacks were on the field for the first snap. Brissett behind the center, Driskel split out wide. The result? No gain on a hand-off to running back Mike Gillislee. Following the play, Brissett went to the sideline and Driskel remained in the huddle.
The rest of the first half would be eventful and uneventful all rolled into one. Neither quarterback looked great, but neither looked awful. Both led the Gators into the end zone, but did they really? The last 10 plays of Driskel’s scoring drive were all runs and none of them him. Brissett’s scoring drive lasted one play – a 38-yard touchdown run by Gillislee. The entire first half gave Brissett just 10 snaps, and it gave Driskel the job.
To Brissett’s credit, he has an absolute rocket for an arm. He finished the day just 3-for-5 for 31 yards, but it’s surprising those three completions were actually held on to. When Brissett plants his feet, he fires passes with amazing velocity and he’s fairly accurate as well. However, the issue in the end is that he doesn’t pose much of a threat to run. Earlier this week, Pease mentioned a running quarterback being part of the game plan. That quarterback is Driskel and why, for now, he has the advantage.
There are definitely some things to work on. Among them, accuracy. Going 10-for-16 is far from awful, but if Driskel is going to throw on the run, he needs to hit his receivers in stride. Two plays come to mind where accuracy played a big role. Those two could have been the difference between 27-14 and 41-14. On 3rd-and-13 from the Bowling Green 49 in the first quarter, Driskel threw behind a wide-open Quinton Dunbar. As for throwing on the run, in the third quarter on 4th-and-1 from the BG 45, Driskel couldn’t hit Trey Burton. Those were two big plays where a quarterback, veteran or not, needs to make a play.
Overall, Driskel was serviceable and gives the Gators something to work with. He’s a threat on his feet, but needs to become more aware of the entire field (starting with knowing where the sidelines are). The Gators will move forward to Texas A&M with him in the huddle. We have no idea how long that will last, but for now Muschamp and Pease believe he’s the best fit. Brissett is on the sidelines and ready to hear his name called if needed, but for the moment, it’s Driskel’s team. The question was answered after only one half of play. Some love the answer, others don’t. Regardless of which side of the fence we’re on, we’re moving forward with it.