The Florida Gators football team began spring practice this week and with that quarterback Jeff Driskel returned to the field for the first time since breaking his leg against Tennessee last September.
At this point, it’s pretty safe to say that Driskel’s career at Florida hasn’t exactly gone as planned. From being hailed as the next Tim Tebow before he even arrived on campus, to a quarterback competition with Jacoby Brissett as a sophomore, to the injury last season, to now working with his third offensive coordinator in four seasons. Not exactly a recipe for success.
However, if Driskel is ever going to live up to the hype that led to him being the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation, now is the time to do it.
This is not to say that Driskel hasn’t had his successes while at Florida. In 2012, he helped lead the Gators to an 11-win season that ended with a loss in the Sugar Bowl. He even appeared to be making strides last season, before his injury. In just three games in 2013, he was completing 68.9 percent of his passes and averaging nearly eight yards per pass attempt (both on pace to be career highs).
The problem has always seemed to be that Driskel in former offensive coordinator Brent Pease’s offense was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It just never looked right. Now, in new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper’s uptempo, spread offense, Driskel should have every opportunity to be successful.
Roper had great success at Duke building an offense around the strengths of his quarterback and things will be no different at Florida.
Driskel will face some “competition” for his job this spring from early enrollee Will Grier. Through a few days of practice, it is clear Driskel is the starter, but Grier’s importance to Florida this season can’t be understated. The freshman is highly touted and is the Gators quarterback of the future. He could help push Driskel to play at a higher level, and perhaps, more importantly, he’ll help provide stability at the backup spot, something Florida lacked last season.
All that aside, if the Gators hope to bounce back in 2014, it will depend on the play of the veteran Driskel.