Jeff Driskel

Ex-Gator QB Jeff Driskel tabbed as LaTech’s starter

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Jeff Driskel left Florida in search of a better opportunity to start.  At least to start the 2015 season, he’ll get that opportunity.

Ahead of the start of Conference USA’s Media Days Wednesday, Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz confirmed to the Monroe News-Star that Driskel will be his starting quarterback heading into the 2015 opener against FCS Southern.  Driskel had been in a battle with Ryan Higgins throughout the spring and on into summer workouts for the opportunity to replace Cody Sokol under center for the Bulldogs.

“After spring practice we went through all the numbers and we met with all the players and all the quarterbacks on where they ranked and where they were,” Holtz said Monday. “Just looking at the numbers from the whole body of work through spring practice, I felt Jeff Driskel gave us the best opportunity as a quarterback. That’s when we looked at him and said he’ll be the starter.”

The fact that Holtz has named him as the starter was news to Driskel, with the graduate transfer claiming “[w]e’ve never had that discussion.”

In January of this year, new Gators head coach Jim McElwain confirmed that had been granted a release from his UF scholarship. Shortly thereafter, the reports began to surface that Driskel was bound for Tech. Because he is a grad transfer, he is eligible for the 2015 season.

Driskel was the Gators’ starter in 2012 as the team went 11-2.  His 2013 season ended after three games because of injury, however, and he lost his starting job last season after the Week 8 loss to Missouri.

Florida Gators lose QB Mornhinweg to Ivy League

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Former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson recently visited the Florida Gators, according to previous reports, as he evaluates his potential transfer options. It turns out the Gators have a bit more of a need at quarterback than initially expected.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain announced on a conference call Wednesday morning that quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg has transferred to Columbia, of the Ivy League. This leaves the Gators with just two scholarship quarterbacks in 2015. Earlier this offseason Jeff Driskel transferred to Louisiana TechWill Grier and Treon Harris were each Class of 2014 recruits and now represent the only scholarship players under center on Florida’s depth chart. Harris was the only one of the two to see any playing time in 2014, appearing in nine games and completing 49.5 percent of his pass attempts for 1,109 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions.

Mornhinweg, the son of Baltimore Ravens quarterback coach Marty Mornhinweg, was a three-star recruit in Florida’s Class of 2012, but at times did not play well with others. The Philadelphia area product (Saint Joseph’s Prep) will now play for a head coach who was a regular on the college football scene in the City of Brotherly Love, Al Bagnoli. Bagnoli was the longtime head coach of the Penn Quakers. After retiring, Penn named a new head coach and kept Bagnoli in the university’s athletic department but the itch to coach was still there. Columbia hired Bagnoli with the hopes of being able to turn the program around. Perhaps adding a quarterback he was likely pretty familiar with through high school will help.

Florida did not add any quarterback recruits on scholarship in the Class of 2015 and have yet to land a commitment for the position in the Class of 2016.

Florida DL Gerald Willis leaving the Gators

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The Jim McElwain Era in Gainesville is offering the entire program and the players attached to it a clean slate. Some players, though, will not be there to usher in the new era. For the second time this week, a Florida Gators player is confirmed to be out of the program. Defensive lineman Gerald Willis will leave the program in search of a transfer, the school announced Tuesday afternoon.

Willis had some rough times during his short stay in Gainesville. The low point may have been the reported altercation between Willis and quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg over a pair of cleats back in early October.

Multiple reports have suggested Willis prefers to stay in the SEC. NCAA transfer rules will force Willis to sit out the 2015 season, giving him a chance to play in 2016 at the earliest. He will have two years of eligibility remaining once he is eligible to play again.

Earlier this week it was reported Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel will be transferring to Louisiana Tech.

Report: Former Florida QB Jeff Driskel is Louisiana Tech bound

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Well, that didn’t take long.

One day after Florida head coach Jim McElwain said he will release Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel from his scholarship, the embattled signal caller has found a destination.

According to J.C. Shurburtt of 247Sports.com, Driskel will enroll at Louisiana Tech for the 2015 season. “The Bulldogs have been considered the likely team of choice for the former five-star for the past 24 hours,” he writes.

A former blue-chipper led the Gators to an 11-2 mark in 2012, but struggled with injuries and inconsistent play as Florida slogged to a 10-13 mark over the 2013-14 seasons. For his career, Driskel has connected on 320-of-535 passes (59.8%) for 3,363 yards (6.29 per attempt) with 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions while rushing 217 times for 637 yards and nine touchdowns.

Louisiana Tech won Conference USA’s West Division and the Heart of Dallas Bowl in head coach Skip Holtz‘s second season. The Bullodgs will look to replace outgoing senior Cody Sokol, who completed 58 percent of his passes for 3,436 yards with 32 total touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season.

 

Gators push SEC East to 5-0 with Birmingham Bowl win

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The SEC Least as they were referred to during the regular season?  Try SEC Beast.

Much maligned throughout 2014 — and rightly so — The Lil’ Division That Couldn’t suddenly could in the postseason, with Florida’s 28-20 win over East Carolina (8-5) in the Birmingham Bowl Saturday afternoon putting a bow on a perfect bowl season.  Five teams played — UF, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee — and all five won, giving the East a perfect 5-0 mark during the 2014-15 postseason.

Now, granted, just two of the East’s games — UGA vs. No. 21 Louisville, Mizzou vs. No. 25 Minnesota —  came against ranked teams, but that division is the only reason the SEC as a whole has an above-.500 bowl mark as the West went 2-5.  Included in that West record was five consecutive losses to close out the slate by the five best teams in the division: LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn and Alabama.  Four of those five losses, though, were to ranked teams, the lone exception being unranked Notre Dame toppling LSU in the Music City Bowl.

UF (7-5), meanwhile, helped cap that perfect East bowl cycle despite being outgained by ECU 536-340.  Fortunately for the Gators they were able to make plays in the running game as they ran for 169 yards in the win.

The defense, while not helping out yard-wise, did contribute points as Brian Poole ran an interception back for a touchdown in the first half, not to mention Dante Fowler‘s three sacks in his last game in a Gator uniform.  They also forced a fumble on a play that began at the one-yard line late in the second quarter that kept the Pirates from another touchdown, as well as force another turnover late to essentially close out the game.

Offensively, Ahmad Fullwood‘s 86-yard touchdown reception from Treon Harris with 11:20 left in the third quarter was the longest scoring pass play in the history of the Birmingham/BBVA Compass/Papa John’s Bowl.  Harris left the game after that because of injury and, replaced by the soon-to-be-departed Jeff Driskel, the UF offense ground to a halt.

On the next six possessions, the Gators had a pair of fumbles that sandwiched four three-and-outs.  That allowed the Pirates to cut a deficit that was 28-14 after the long TD pass to 28-20 with 6:29 remaining.  On the possession after the second fumble, ECU managed to drive the ball to the UF 27-yard line before being forced to punt the ball back to the Gators with 4:21 remaining.

Yet another Gator three-and-out gave the Pirates the ball back with 3:28 left at their own 42-yard line.  After the Pirates drove down to the UF five-yard line — with the aid of a very fortuitous fumble that was kneed forward at least 10 yards by a Gator defender — Vernon Hargreaves intercepted a pass in the end zone with 1:20 remaining to nearly seal the win.

On the third play of the following series, a Driskel run for a first down did seal the win for the Gators.

For the Pirates, Shane Carden finished with 427 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions.  Justin Hardy, the FBS all-time leader in career receptions, closed out his record-breaking career with 11 receptions for 160 yards.

For ECU’s conference the AAC, that league will finish the postseason 2-3.