If Florida’s going to bounce back from a controversial overtime home win over Kentucky in Week 3 and a beatdown from Alabama in Week 4, it’ll do so with its beleaguered starting quarterback. At least for Week 5 it will. And in spite of a legend calling for a change.
Not so unexpectedly, Will Muschamp confirmed Wednesday that Jeff Driskel will get the start when the Gators take the field against Tennessee Oct. 4 following a bye this weekend. While standing behind Driskel, the head coach also acknowledged the obvious — he needs to play better.
“Jeff needs to play better and I think he’d be the first person to tell you that,” Muschamp said. “I thought he forced 4-5 balls where in some situations you check the ball down or you take the ball somewhere else. He had four drops.
“But Jeff needs to play better, he understands that. He certainly forced some things that we can’t afford to do, and especially on two of the interceptions. Jeff gives us the best opportunity to win right now.”
The fact that a true freshman, Treon Harris, is No. 2 on the depth chart likely plays into Muschamp going Tammy Wynette on the quarterback situation. The numbers the last two weeks, though, aren’t pretty.
In the first half against Kentucky and the entire Alabama game, Driskel completed 16-of-48 passes (33 percent) for 254 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. That works out to a passer efficiency of 72.16; to put that into perspective, only six players in the country with at least 15 attempts have a rating lower than 100.
“Put Jeff Driskel on the bench please, I have seen enough,” Emmitt Smith tweeted during Saturday’s game. Smith subsequently apologized.
Now juxtapose Driskel’s struggles with the play of Jacoby Brissett and Tyler Murphy in 2014.
Both of those quarterbacks transferred from Florida, the former to North Carolina State and the latter Boston College. Brissett is the 15th-most efficient quarterback in the country (166.7) and 36th in total offense (280.8); Driskel is 97th (111.1) and 60th (239.7), respectively. While Driskel’s efficiency slotting is 15 spots ahead of Murphy, the BC starter is 10th in the country with 500 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground in four games. In three games, the noted dual-threat Driskel ran for 83 yards and scored one rushing touchdown.
Certainly all three situations are different, but the way the two transfers are performing away from Gainesville casts an even harsher light on Driskel’s troubles.