Florida QB Driskel’s career day marred by miscues

By Adam Silverstein
September 7, 2013

Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel was not the only member of the No. 9/12 Florida Gators (1-1) that turned the ball over on Saturday. But as the leader of the team and offense, his mistakes were the most glaring – and game-changing.

And that’s why the story of Florida’s 21-16 loss to the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes (2-0) at Sun Life Stadium, at least as it pertains to Driskel, is centered on his three untimely turnovers rather than the career-high 291 yards he threw for on the afternoon.

It’s also why he took responsibility after the game – not like he had much of a choice in the matter.

“We couldn’t hold onto the ball. I think we had five turnovers. It started with me,” he said. “I was careless with the ball, a couple of interceptions, putting the ball on the ground there at the end and a couple of fumbles. They were all costly.”

The turnover parade did not start with Driskel. Sophomore running back Matt Jones, playing his first game of the season after being sidelined with a serious viral infection, fumbled the ball on his third carry of the season during the game’s opening possession.

Down 14-6, Driskel led the Gators into the red zone by completing a 46-yard pass to senior wide receiver Solomon Patton. He negated his productive bomb with his first pick of the game, a pass to Patton – who was covered by five orange jerseys – from the Canes’ 11-yard line on 3rd-and-Goal.

“When I saw the ball in the air and I saw the guy cutting it, I knew it wasn’t pretty,” he explained. “It was a dumb play. I should have just taken what the defense gave me. Instead, I tried to make the bigger play. That’s what I’ve got to move on from.”


Driskel’s next turnover came on downs. Faced with 4th-and-1 at Miami’s 16-yard line, he was supposed to keep the ball and sneak it forward up the middle for a yard.

UM lined up stacked on the defensive line, especially in the middle, making it quite obvious that they knew the play UF was about to call.

Rather than adjust into a play that Florida would have a better chance of converting, Driskel went ahead and got stuffed for no gain.

“We could’ve checked out of it,” head coach Will Muschamp said.

Driskel noted: “We had confidence in our O-line that we could get a push. On that play, Miami did a great job of really stuffing every hole. Sometimes the defense beats you.”

Next to the party was senior WR Trey Burton, who caught a pass from Driskel in the red zone with the clock winding down in the first half but fumbled the ball at Miami’s 13-yard line. Burton was also involved on Driskel’s second interception.

Faced with 3rd-and-3 at the Canes’ 17-yard line mid-way through the fourth quarter, Driskel threw a pass to Burton that was intercepted and returned 36 yards.

“It was just a bad call on my part. He’s covered. Either throw the ball away or try to pick up the first down with your feet. That was just a bad decision on my part,” Driskel admitted.

Burton, however, refused to put the blame on his quarterback.

“I ran the wrong route,” he explained. “That was not his fault. That play was my fault. I did not play a good game today.”

Whether Driskel is to blame for the second interception is of little matter in the grand scheme of things. His third turnover of the game – a fumble during a sack inside the Gators’ 10-yard line with less than five minutes to play – was the third time he’s had a ball knocked loose in the last two games (second lost).

In all, Florida turned the ball over six times including the change of possession on downs with four of those miscues occurring in the red zone.

“You can’t afford to do that in games like this. You got to go down there and get points. You end every possession with a kick, you’ll win a bunch of games. And we didn’t do that today,” Muschamp said.

“We had over 400 yards. We outgained them [by] 200 yards. But that doesn’t win you any games, and that’s the bottom line. You just can’t have five turnovers. And you can’t turn the ball over in the red zone. You just can’t do it.

“You can’t go 1-for-6 scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Can’t do it. You got to get some points and you just got to score.”

Muschamp said after the game that Driskel needed to do a better job getting rid of the ball and settling for a less glamorous outcome when faced with the option.

“You just got to play smart football in some situations,” he said. “You can’t throw the ball into traffic in the red zone. In those critical situations, you’re taking points off the board, you’re creating momentum for the other team. A lot of things go on when that happens. It’s not just the fact that you had a turnover. Those are situations we got to correct.”

That being said, Muschamp also offered a modicum of praise for Driskel’s performance, noting that he threw the ball better vertically and was effective at times in the running game. He also said he believes Driskel has taken a step forward from the 2012 incarnation of himself.

“I think he’s a much better player at this time. There’s no question,” Muschamp said. “Would he like to have some of those throws back? Absolutely. I’d like to have some calls back. That’s part of it.

“I thought Jeff did some really nice things in the game as well as far as throwing the football, getting the field vertical. We just got to get rid of the ball at some times in some situations.”

The quarterback did, after all, throw for the most yards by a Florida passer since Nov. 19, 2011, while helping a pair of UF wide receivers each register 98+ yards in the same game for the first time since Nov. 3, 2007.

Driskel felt support from his teammates after the game and noted that the Gators cannot hang their heads over the loss because there is still “a lot of football to play this year.” He also thinks Florida has proven that it can move the ball but said eliminating turnovers will be the key going forward.

So while fans may be directing their anger at Driskel through the weekend – and likely much longer – the Gators have his back.

“If you point one finger, you’ve got three fingers pointing right back at you,” redshirt sophomore linebacker Michael Taylor said after the game. “So before you point a finger at somebody else, you’ve got to point a finger at yourself.

“We’re a team. We’re not an offense; we’re not a defense. Execution was very poor today. We didn’t make plays at the right time for us to come out with a victory.”

15 Comments

  1. Cal Burke says:

    Jeff Driskel HAS got to go. Jeff Driskel personally lost the Georgia (2 int, 2 fumbles lost) game last year, and the Louisville Sugar Bowl (pick 6, int in redzone!!) game. Those were our only two loses. He just lost the Miami (2 int. Lost fumble, all again in redzone!) game. He HAS to go. Period. This moron has the cranial capacity only slightly above a canary. Now he whines that he a primarily a runner. Then run stuuuuupid. Phys Ed major? There’s a stretch, Einstein. Not to mention he has no motivation now that is a RICH pro baseball player. He HAS to go. Too much like Terry Dean. Too much Doug Johnson. Heck, Doug would be a vast improvement. Driskel HAS to go! Time to get Matt Staver in the game. Jeff Driskel HAS got to go. We have 6-8 decent QBs on the roster and one ******* ‘tard named Dweff Dwiskwel.

    • Gatorgrad79 says:

      Agreed, Cal! The biggest problem with driskell is LACK OF JUDGEMENT about when to throw or eat the ball to prevent the turnover. Supposedly he had “matured” and his judgement was vastly improved?! OBVIOUSLY NOT! You can’t “teach” good judgement and we don’t have time for him to mature into it (if he ever will). We need to win NOW and the crime is that all the other pieces are there and it is NOT FAIR to the other players who are maximizing their skills to squander their efforts trying to “save” one player!

  2. HardToKillGtr says:

    The players who committ blatant fouls are selfish and self-centered. They believe it’s ok to not control the impulse to strike back like a three year old no matter how it hurts the team. Our Coaches believe it’s ok to allow this behavior to continue game after game no matter what they say. Make no mistake. Muschamp can stop the fouls and lack of ball protection. The big punishment is with playing time. Small things like can’t wear Gator gear all week, live with a foot ball 24/7 and take care of it like it’s your baby which is all high school crap. Something is wrong with Muschamp.

    • Cal Burke says:

      (SIDEBAR: Sorry for SPAM in the different articles, Adam)

      Agree, but when a pitcher gives up the home run only he is to blame. QBs are that sort.

      Good point about fumbles as they also stink. Meyer and Spurrier hate them and it is pine time, even for a QB.

      Not being a smarty pants but when your QB is one of the worst, in the biggest games, in the RED ZONE, what do you do?

      He has got to go.

      Now on to Will MuscleCramp. He is NOT bringing the cole slaw to the MENSA picnic. Do you really, really want two more years of Dweff Dwiskwel and Will Musclecramp?

      A trick play on a PAT in the 1st Quarter? Then blame the defense which set up that TD thanks to Purifoy? Durkin should be pissed about that crap from an IDIOT head coach!

  3. ptoddchesser says:

    At what point does the program realize that Jeff Driskel is not the right person for this job? He is in his 3rd season at the helm and we are still waiting for him to “get it”. I don’t think he ever will get it. It is time to move forward with the future

  4. Finstigator says:

    A career-high 291 yards in 13 games? Wow! How many yards did Jameis Winston throw for in his FIRST collegiate start? Why is Clay Burton our starting TE when we recruited the number 1 and 3 TE’s 2 classes back? Muschamp is great at defense and wants to ground and pound and emulate Saban but they also throw the damn ball. If we are going to run run run, then do more of the diamond formation (wishbone circa 1980’s). Seriously, is Muschamp putting a leash on Pease or what? It’s no wonder we whiffed on Nelson Agholor and Stephon Diggs when we were their supposed front runners. USC I can understand but when a stud receiver elects to go to Maryland over Florida…..what does that say. I wonder what the recent WR commit from the Miami area thinks after attending the game?

    • VO2max says:

      Ermon Lane is looking ahead to catching balls from Will Grier, not Driskel. I have felt that the 2014 season would be a Championship run but Im starting to doubt that with JD at the helm. Was that his 14th start? Please prove me wrong JD.

      Sit tight, the Will Grier Calvary is coming.

      • CH says:

        You’ve been hyping Grier in just about every post. I’m not a scout but Will chose Uf over UT, NC State, and UNC. I gotta question why better schools weren’t after him too. And you hyping him so much (and bashing Driskel so much) makes me think you have a relationship there. He may be great but to say they are “saving” players to catch balls from him is a little over the top infatuated….or just trying to hype him for his freshman yr.

        • He’s from North Carolina. UNC and NCSt were local teams he was interested in playing for. Many, many other big-time programs have offered Grier and would take him in a heartbeat.

  5. dp says:

    I had John Brantley nightmares all night. That was awful.

  6. VO2max says:

    Driskel is dreadfully slow at decision making. That attribute is a death knell in big boy football. I’m not convinced that he will ever develop into a quick decision maker. Late, late, late.

    I’ll never understand why they don’t move the pocket to buy him time and make more plays with his legs. Maybe he’s inaccurate on the run? I dunno. But I do know that his processor ain’t up to snuff for a true pocket passer.

    Florida should have easily won that game by double digits. Instead, the staff stuck with a set that accentuated Driskel’s shortcomings. That was an awful and painful loss because the Gators (JD) flat out beat themselves. Going forward Champ and Pease need to be much more proactive with their adjustments. Driskel is great at avoiding pressure when he’s moving but dreadful at it when standing in the pocket.

    The offense is completely tentative when #6 is sightseeing in the pocket.

    (Brian Griese has to be the dumbest color commentator in the history of the world)

  7. ga8or22 says:

    So much for a career day – 2 interceptions and a fumble. Shame on you Jeff. You still look like a deer staring into the headlights , sticking your thumb in your ass and saying DUH! WHAT SHOULD I DO? Get rid of the ball, avoid the loss or turnover. Throw the ball out of bounds or so far down field no one can catch it!

  8. ziggy says:

    Driskel needs to learn to make reads while dropping back not after he’s already dropped back

  9. JamDog says:

    Holy crap what has our fanbase devolved into? I would expect some of these comments from shitty fair weather Miami fans. Cal Burke, please go away and don’t ever come back to this site.

    • Cal Burke says:

      Oh, your wish isn’t coming true. And, BTW, the Gators are 5-3 over the last eight games and have now lost 2 in a row. All thanks to JD.
      Oh, of those five wins? Let’s pretend the Louisiana Rajun’ Cajuns (barely won thanks to Jacoby and especially Purifoy), Jackson State and Toledo are not in the SEC or Miami, or Louisville, or FSU.
      Why I do declare, Blanche, that means in the last eight games we are 2-3 versus any team other than a tune-up chump!!
      Georgia, Louisville (Charlie S.), and worst of all, Miami. A city whose only redeeming quality is that when it rains it makes its own gravy.
      My, my.
      Let’s hope Adam S. is correct and Will Grier is the man. However, even next year we have this dumbstruck fool JD to deal with, even if Will G. IS the man.
      Jacoby must be laughing his lost year off at NC State.
      So, since you asked, let’s say it with me once more below.
      But first, have a read if Adam doesn’t mind:
      http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2013/09/09/starting-11-gators-ugly-collapse/
      ———————————
      Jeff Driskel HAS got to go.
      Jeff Driskel personally lost the Georgia (2 int, 1 redzone, 3 fumbles, 2 fumbles lost redzone) game last year, and the Louisville Sugar Bowl (pick 6, int in redzone!!) game. Those were our only two loses. He just lost the Miami (2 int. Lost fumble, all again in redzone!) game.
      Driskel HAS to go. Period.
      This moron has the cranial capacity only slightly above a canary. Now he whines that he a primarily a runner. Then run, Forrest, run!!
      Phys Ed major? There’s a stretch, Einstein.
      Not to mention Driskel has no motivation now that is a RICH pro baseball player. What does he care? Pro baseball the alternative if this football thing doesn’t work out. Which it won’t!
      Driskel HAS to go. Period.
      Too much like Terry Dean. Too much bad Doug Johnson. Heck, Doug would be a vast, vast improvement.
      Driskel HAS to go. Period.
      Time to get Matt Staver, in the game.
      Driskel HAS got to go.
      We have 6-8 decent QBs on the roster and one ******* ‘tard named Dweff Dwiskwel.
      Now on to Will MuscleCramp. He is NOT bringing the cole slaw to the MENSA picnic. Do you really, really want two more years of Dweff Dwiskwel and Will Musclecramp?
      A trick play on a PAT in the 1st Quarter? Blame the defense which set up that TD thanks to Purifoy? Durkin should be pissed about that crap from an IDIOT head coach!
      About the only thing I can say about these two buffoons Dweff and Cramp) is that they had better start wearing their bike helmets and name-tags on the sideline so they don’t hurt themselves running into the Gatorade coolers and the VISITOR’S wa, wa, waterboy can point them to the proper sidelines.
      Before we lose THREE STRAIGHT to Georgia, four next year, FSU, USC, Tenn, LSU, and on and on, with the Laurel and Hardy of College football, immediately replace Musclecramp with Brent Pease, and send Dwiskwel packing to some Bosox minor league.
      Then develop that WFO Boise State offense we have the players for and give Staver a chance. Grier next year too!
      If not, chant this new Gator mantra tonight: “Two more years of days like today, and the Sugar Bowl, and the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Two more years. Two more years.”

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