Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Still no separation between Florida QBs
By Edward Aschoff
Jeff Driskel, left, and Jacoby Brissett remain in a tight battle for the starting quarterback job.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Spring practice is over with at Florida and the gap in the quarterback battle hasn’t budged an inch.
When it comes to rising sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel, there doesn’t seem to be much space at all. When you talk to coaches, players and people around Florida’s program, they come back to the same response: no one has a clue which one will be THE GUY this fall.
That could be interpreted as a bad thing. After all, the saying is that if you have two quarterbacks you really don’t have one. But coach Will Muschamp is thinking positively.
Last year, he didn’t want to see either on the field because he had his starter in senior John Brantley. However, a devastating ankle injury early in the season changed that.
“Both of those guys, as I said last year, unfortunately played for us,” Muschamp said. “Right now, fortunately they play for us. They’ve got some game-time experience, they understand what it takes to be successful. Both have God-given ability. They’re talented.”
Muschamp and his players have said all spring that they feel good with either taking snaps and believe they can win a championship at some point with either one.
“I feel like we can win with any one of them,” rising sophomore wide receiver Quinton Dunbar said. “They both had great springs.”
However, the fact remains that having one true starter will benefit this team in the long run.
To make sure both were pounded with spring reps, Muschamp and new offensive coordinator Brent Pease tried to give them even snaps in practice.
Brissett had the advantage heading into spring after passing Driskel on the depth chart and starting two games last season, but Driskel, who passed for 147 yards and ran for a score in Florida’s Orange and Blue Debut, wasn’t just going to let Brissett take the starting job this spring. He was skittish and admittedly “clueless” last season, but feels like a new, more confident player exiting spring.
“I felt real comfortable in the pocket,” said Driskel, who is in Year 2 of a pro-style offense after running the spread in high school.
Driskel said the biggest improvement is his ability to go through progressions and not lock onto one target, something he was notorious for last season. But Brissett, who passed for 233 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game, feels comfy, too, with improved vision and 15 fewer pounds to carry.
“I feel like I came along well,” Brissett said. “There’s still a lot of work to do, but I should get it together.”
OK, well what stands out?
The consensus is that Driskel is the better athlete. He’s a scrambler, he’s bigger (by an inch and 3 pounds), faster and more agile. But Brissett is the more polished passer. He has better pocket presence and more of the moxie needed to play quarterback.
Saturday was a chance for one to separate with better management, but Muschamp was equally impressed with both (again).
They audibled, changed protections knew when things weren’t right at the line of scrimmage, got the motion going, changed formations and runs, and flipped sides.
“It’s going to come down to who makes the most plays,” Driskel said. “It should be.”
Yes, but that didn’t happen this spring, meaning this offseason will be critical for each to take that next step.
With coaches out of the picture, training sessions will have to be led by the quarterbacks, Muschamp said, and it seems both are ready for that responsibility. Brissett assures the texts and phone calls will be made to get players in the weight room and on the field for 11-on-11s and 7-on-7s.
The one who wins the offseason could win the job.
“They’ve got to take control of our football team,” Muschamp said.
“They” would be great for the Gators, but “one” is all the quarterback position needs. Florida can’t have both throwing at the same time. That’s just silly and against the rules. Both will play, but only one will carry this team.
Until things are settled in the passing department, Brissett said he’s comfortable having one advantage: the looks.
“That’s just something [Driskel] has to deal with,” he said.
Glad we settled one thing with this quarterback battle.