QB down, QB up

Without Jeff Driskel, Florida is likely to mix its backup with more Wildcat

Updated: November 13, 2012, 2:54 PM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Jeff Driskel won the starting job as Florida's quarterback in 2012 because his running ability added an extra element to the Gators' offense.

UF is going to have to find a way to make up for not having that if the sprained right ankle Driskel suffered against Louisiana-Lafayette keeps him out of Saturday's game against Jacksonville State and the Nov. 24 matchup with Florida State. The passing game won't differ much, but how the Gators run the ball might change because of quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Jacoby Brissett
Kim Klement/US PresswireSophomore Jacoby Brissett started Florida's season opener at quarterback before Jeff Driskel took over the job.
"That's a fair assessment," offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "I think they're two different type guys. Throwing wise, they both have to be in touch with what we're doing there. Jacoby's probably not much of a read-option-type guy.

"We'll devise some things [to replace Driskel in the running game]."

The 6-foot-4, 237-pound Driskel is UF's second-leading rusher behind Mike Gillislee. He has run for 424 yards and four touchdowns on 97 carries. Some of that has come on scrambles, but a significant portion has come on designed runs, especially the read option.

Running the ball is certainly not one of Brissett's strengths. The 6-4, 229-pound sophomore is a pocket passer, and while he has good mobility, he's not a runner like Driskel. That likely means more Wildcat with Trey Burton.

"He is not the runner Jeff is," Pease said of Brissett. "He doesn't have the elusiveness and speed. I'm not saying we won't do it. I'm just saying some of those things are built a little more for Jeff's ability than Jacoby's. Now, Jacoby probably wants to do it. He's not opposed to doing it. He bugs me about it all the time."

Burton has taken 31 Wildcat snaps in eight of the nine games in which he has played (he didn't take any snaps against Bowling Green and he missed the Kentucky game with a back injury), although he has taken only two in each of UF's last two games. He has run for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, although 91 yards and both TDs came against Tennessee.

Using the Wildcat is almost a guarantee that the Gators will run the ball. Burton has thrown it only twice -- one was a shovel pass -- in his 31 snaps. He has handed off the ball nine times, and that has resulted in the most success out of the formation, other than the Tennessee game. Those nine carries have gone for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

Pease wouldn't say whether the Gators are going to use more Wildcat, but he did admit he won't be calling any quarterback runs for Brissett, because they can't afford for him to get hurt. Redshirt sophomore Tyler Murphy, who has appeared in just two games in mop-up action in his career, is behind Brissett on the depth chart.

"I'm not saying we won't," Pease said of running the read-option with Brissett. "But now all of a sudden you're down a guy, too, and you put a guy in that position where he's going to get hit. You've got to kind of guard yourself against getting that kid dinged up a little bit."

It appears unlikely that Driskel will be able to return to practice Wednesday, which is what UF coach Will Muschamp had hoped. Driskel was on crutches today, and Pease said Brissett would take the majority of reps in practice this week.

"It's going to be Jacoby in there and everything's going to be centered around him," Pease said. "It's not like he doesn't get some [in practice]. He doesn't get the number that Jeff has had, but he's taken good quality reps. Now it's just kind of getting him settled in of what we're going to do with the game plan."

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter