Injuring his right leg in the first quarter and missing the remainder of the game on Saturday, Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel was ruled out for the rest of the 2013 season with a broken right fibula by head coach Will Muschamp following his team’s 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers.
“Injuries are a part of the game. It’s unfortunate Jeff Driskel will be out for the season. He’s going to have surgery on his lower leg [Sunday]. It’s the [fibula],” Muschamp said. “Disappointed for Jeff. He’s worked extremely hard for this season.
“One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity.”
Driskel, who led Florida to an 11-2 record in his first season as a starter in 2012, was struggling on Saturday before being knocked out of the game. He threw a pick-six on the Gators second offensive drive of the afternoon and never returned.
Muschamp knew right away that his starter was seriously injured.
“When I saw him go down – and obviously he got hit as he was throwing it – and I saw him look to the sideline and wave, I knew. Because Jeff is as tough of a kid as I’ve been around. When he looked to the sideline and waved, I knew it was not good,” he said.
The interception was Driskel’s fourth turnover in the last two games and sixth in the last four contests dating back to the 2013 Sugar Bowl.
“Jeff had earned the opportunity to be the starter here and there was nothing that didn’t tell me that was going to happen,” Muschamp added. “As far as his performance in camp, I thought it was outstanding. I thought his first two ballgames he played well. He certainly made some mistakes in Miami he’d like to have back.”
Driskel injured his knee two weeks ago and wore a brace on his left leg entering the game. He did not appear to be limited by the ailment or equipment on Saturday.
“I had all the confidence in the world in Jeff. I think Jeff practiced extremely well,” Muschamp explained. “Didn’t practice much Monday but the whole practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Probably had his best Thursday practice as far as throwing the football, making good decisions. … I hurt for him and I hurt for us right now because Jeff’s a good football player. And it’s going to hurt us. He’s a guy that’s won a lot of ballgames here. And I’m disappointed for him right now.”
He was replaced by redshirt junior Tyler Murphy in the first quarter.
Murphy has never seen any significant time as a quarterback at Florida but performed more than admirably in Driskel’s absence, completing 8-of-14 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown and carrying the ball 10 times for 84 yards and another score.
“Tyler Murphy certainly took advantage of an opportunity today with his snaps, very proud of him,” Muschamp said.
“Told our football team in the locker room [he’s] a great example of a guy, when your number is called at the University of Florida, you better perform at a high level. That’s what’s expected. I thought he came in and kept drives alive with his legs, with his arms\. Got us in and out of the right run game looks … Certainly took advantage of this reps. Just so proud of him stepping up and playing the way he played and directing our offense. That’s very difficult to do and he did it very well.”
While Murphy has a great opportunity to lead the Gators football program, Driskel will likely spend the next few months rehabilitating after he undergoes surgery on Sunday.
“Jeff Driskel’s a tough kid. He’s a tough young man. He’s got two great parents. He’s a wonderful young man. I just hurt for him right now,” Muschamp said.