Maybe Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp was not just playing coy when he said Monday that the team’s starting quarterback for their game against the LSU Tigers on Saturday was not going to be determined until the end of the week.
Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis have decided that freshman Jacoby Brissett – not classmate Jeff Driskel – will start in place of injured redshirt senior John Brantley (lower leg) on Saturday.
Driskel, who had been Brantley’s backup all season long and was positioned to take the reigns after the starter went down with a reported high-ankle sprain against Alabama, has been dealing with his own health issue this week. He sprained his ankle Saturday and struggled practicing on it throughout the week, according to multiple reports.
Brissett has never started let alone appeared in a game for the Gators. A true freshman, he joined the team this summer and though not explicitly stated, it appeared the coaching staff was planning to redshirt him this season.
“The only reason why Jacoby hasn’t been a factor at this point is only because he came here in the summertime,” Weis said on Tuesday. “He had to play catch-up over the other guys. The other guys were here in the spring when we put everything in. That’s the only thing that kept Jacoby from possibly being the second guy in.”
Instead, with Brantley out and Driskel hampered by injury, Brissett moved ahead of redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy on the quarterback depth chart this week and earned the opportunity to step on the field for the first time in his college career.
“If there’s a kid capable of going into that environment as a freshman, he would be the one kid I would want,” Brissett’s head coach at Dwyer High School, Jack Daniels, told the Palm Beach Post on Friday. “When he was a freshman, we played Booker T. Washington in the Orange Bowl, and they had one of the best defenses in the country. Our quarterback got hurt in the third quarter and Jacoby came in and took us down the field twice against those guys. That’s when I knew there was something special about the kid.”
Muschamp said that all three quarterbacks would share reps in practice with each having an equal opportunity at winning the starting job for Saturday’s game. Brantley told CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson before the LSU game that he hopes to return to action by Oct. 29, when Florida takes on Georgia in Jacksonville, FL.
A four-star recruit out of Dwyer in West Palm Beach, FL, Brissett led his team to a 12-2 record as a senior by throwing for 2,473 yards with 32 touchdowns and just one interception. He was the first recruit targeted by Weis when he joined the Florida coaching staff and committed to UF over Miami late in the process.
David Pingalore of WKMG Orlando first reported that Brissett would start.
Photo Credit: Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post