Driskel ‘going to start’ as Gators ready Harris

By Adam Silverstein
October 15, 2014

Photo Credit: Butch Dill/Associated Press

Those pining for freshman quarterback Treon Harris to replace embattled redshirt junior Jeff Driskel as the starter will have a bit longer to wait as Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper indicated Tuesday that the veteran will get the nod as the team’s primary signal caller on Saturday.

“Jeff’s going to start,” Roper said, “but this week obviously is an important week to see how each guy prepares and does all those things. Hopefully, we do get a ‘hot hand’ and do well the whole game. I’d like to get a ‘hot hand’ for sure.”

Though Driskel appears to be in line to take most of the snaps against the Missouri Tigers, Harris will undoubtedly have a role to play as head coach Will Muschamp confirmed Monday that Florida would be using both quarterbacks in the game.

How exactly the Gators will utilize the two signal callers remains to be seen.

According to Roper, what truly sets Driskel apart from Harris at this time is his experience as a game manager. Driskel understands the entire playbook, communicates the plays well and helps a number of Florida players get lined up properly – all things Harris simply does not know how to do at the same level at this time.


“Jeff’s experience and understanding and all those kinds of things, there’s direction going on that people don’t see and a lot of communication going on that people don’t see going on, a lot of issues with protections that people don’t see,” Roper explained. “Jeff obviously helps several guys be able to do that. And so it could be an issue [without him in the game], and if it is, we’ve got to address it.”

Where Harris can be effective is as a playmaker, a guy who comes in to execute plays he has practiced over and over again during his limited snaps with the first team offense.

“Right now with Treon, the thought process has to be to just let him go play. You got to try to not create too many burdens right now as he’s progressing through, not that he can’t understand what we’re doing. He does a good job, but you always grow in an offense the longer you play,” Roper said.

To that end, Harris did not have his best practice when he returned to the fields on Monday. He “did some good things, did some bad things” but kept a positive mindset the whole time and is prepared to move forward after his tough ordeal last week.

“He goes and works. He enjoys working, enjoys being on the practice field. He’s a guy that I enjoy coaching because he goes out there to get better every day and works hard and [gives] great effort. We’ve got to make up some ground, obviously, but I think we’ve got time to do that,” Roper said.

“The thing that I can say right now [that is] best about him is he’s still in his first year just being here. He obviously has the ability, but it’s not an easy thing to do to play quarterback at any time, much less as a true freshman. I think he’s working hard at it. I think he does have ability, and he’s shown the ability to make some plays.”

Harris will have the opportunity to expand his playbook and gain additional experience with the first-team offense as the week progresses. Driskel got most of those reps on Monday and Tuesday, but Harris should increase his workload over the next few days.

Roper does not yet know how he will use Harris in Saturday’s game, but his goal is to prepare the youngster for both a supporting role and potentially the full-time responsibility should Driskel falter early in the contest. The challenge for Roper is finding “what [Harris] is capable of being successful with and try[ing] to put him in those situations as much” as possible.

All that truly matters by Saturday is that the Gators’ offense is more efficient and effective than it has been over the last few weeks. Whether it is Driskel or Harris at the helm is of little relevance as long as the end result is what Florida is hoping to achieve.

“The goal is to score points, to win games,” declared Roper. “Decisions [are] being made to find a way to put points on the board.”

21 Comments

  1. cline says:

    I am not sure how I feel about the two QB situation. I don’t know if I would rather have a QB who “knows” all the plays but struggles to deliver, or a QB that only “knows” some of the plays but has the potential to be more effective with less of a playbook? I am not sure how effective Treon will/would be but I think he deserves a shot at it regardless given the circumstances and poor level of QB play to date.

    GO GATORS!

    • Ken (CA) says:

      WM only seems to allow roper to call about 5 different plays in general anyway, I am sure by now Harris knows at least those 5!

  2. Michael J. says:

    As I’ve sad before, nothing has changed. Roper may be the mouthpiece, but it’s clear that Muschamp still thinks Driskel is a great quarterback. Roper made very clear when he emphasized all the reasons Harris should not play over Driskel. He didn’t disclose the split of the first team reps each quarterback is getting this week, but I feel confident in saying that Harris will not get more than ten percent of them. When he says the guy with the hot hand will play, he actually means that Harris won’t play until Jeff Driskel starts ‘driskelling,’ and even then, it will take a lot of ‘driskelling.’ Muschamp hasn’t changed his mind or his philosophy one bit. He said words to that effect before the season even started, but no one paid attention. Nothing is going to change Muschamp’s mind. He has a lot of data staring him in the face that screams out to not play Driskel ever again, but he ignores it completely.

  3. BillyBob says:

    I am just as upset as all of you other Gators fans but the offense did show progress last week. Driskel played a decent game minus his late interception amd the game shouldn’t have came down to that. What costed us the game was the busted coverage on the 3rd and 25. If we get that stop we probably win the game. I think the approach Muschamp is taking is the right thing to do with Treon. Lets slowly ease him in the starting line-up so he can gain confidence instead of rushing him in there before eventually naming him the full-time starter, if he prove he’s capable. I like running Driskel out of the shotgun with the RB being a lead blocker for him. Those running plays seemed to be very effective against LSU. We should keep those plays in the playbook. I think Treon will be a better passer especially on the deep balls for our offense. Despite our loss last week I think the arrow is definitely pointing up for this team moving forward.

    • scroud says:

      I am in agreement with BillyBob, I think things are pointing up despite the loss. I think the coaches know what they are talking about when they say Driskel gives us the best chance to win. They see these guys every day and for a true freshman that wasn’t supposed to start, his play calling will be limited, as we saw last year with our backups (even though they weren’t freshmen). Perhaps part of Muschamp’s strategy is to have Harris come in and throw a pic and then pull him and then say, “See, I told you so.” Just kidding. I think he will have a few plays he can run but let’s say he throws a forty yard bomb right on the money and the receiver drops it. Unless the receivers can make the plays, it won’t matter who is throwing. If the receivers make the plays, Driskel will play better and have more confidence. Plus it will open up the running game more.
      Happy to see Roper started throwing downfield more in the LSU game. Hopefully that will continue.
      The season isn’t lost, yet.

    • Steven says:

      Driskel had 3 turnovers and the LSU defense is horrendous this year.
      Not trying to burst your bubble because I don’t disagree with everything you said.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        Aside from the 3 turnovers or the 3rd and 25, don’t forget 1st and goal at the 2, many 3rd and long that LSU was allowed to convert after going 0 for their last 18 3rd down conversions before meeting our “stout” defense, all the receiver drops or overthrows that would have been first downs, etc., etc. There was no 1 play that cost us the game, including driskel’s late interception. There were at least a dozen plays during the game that not only would have won it for us but could have made it a complete laugher

    • ntcrze says:

      Even if UF had defensed the pass on third and 25, LSU would have had a first down anyway due to a personal foul on Alex McCalister. Even after the long pass, LSU still was twenty yards away from a touchdown, but, of course, UF couldn’t stop them. Let’s not say that if this play or that play had happened that UF would have won. In a recurring theme from last year, unless the team in named Kentucky or Tennessee, the Gators find out new ways to fail on defense at critical times in a game. UF committing a personal foul? It’s not something new for Florida. Florida just doesn’t seem to have guys that play smart. LSU was very conservative, they knew to just be patient, Florida would implode at some point in the game, and they were right.

  4. Erica E says:

    I have to agree with Billy Bob. I thought our offense did a lot better this past weekend. If Westbrook would have held on to that pass the team would have been carrying Driskel out on their shoulders. Driskel did what he needed to do to win the game at the end. The dropped passes have to stop. It handicaps our offense and makes Driskel look worse than he is (he is bad don’t get me wrong). I wish the receivers were getting more of the blame and less put on Driskel bc they are at least half of the reason our offense has struggled. Also, when they don’t catch the ball they like to bat it up in the air for interceptions. And blowing coverage on a 3rd and 25??? WTF. You know they need 25 yards all you need to do is keep everything in front of you. Two mistakes not made by Driskel that ultimately cost us the game.

  5. Kurt Gies says:

    It amazes how many have harped on the blown coverage on third and 25 being the game changer. A perfect coverage wouldn’t have mattered cause we had a 15yd personal foul for hands to the face by one of our d-lineman, which would result in an automatic first down. Yes the coverage was an issue, but it was not the game changer. The game changer was another dropped pass by our receivers, this time in the end zone. Yes we ran the ball up the middle twice, but it also caused LSU to burn their only 2 time outs. He catches that pass, we win. Period!

    • Razzlegator says:

      That 15 yards was added on to the 41 yards picked up on the blown coverage. One play, over half the field covered. I’d say the blown coverage was a factor.

  6. gatorboi352 says:

    Gotta rip that band-aid off, full stop. This wishy-washy 2 QB crap won’t fly.

    Having said that, I fully expect Jeff to roll out there on Saturday and be Jeff, so Treon should be entering the game by the end of the 1st Q at the latest.

  7. 305Gator says:

    Most of the posters so far have it half right so I will attempt a group response rather than individually.
    The season isn’t lost yet.
    You are right but if we lose to Mizzou then it’s all over.
    Our offense did better last game.
    Better than what? Better than 31/2 quarters of total futility in Knoxville? Better than laying an egg in Tuscaloosa?
    Better but we still lost is not good enough.
    The coaches know what they are talking about when they say Driskel gives us the best chance to win?
    Come on man only you and Muschamp believe that load of crap.
    The 3 plays that contributed to our loss were in order:
    1 – the 3rd and 25 conversion, and that is on Muschamp because it has happened several times already. If Poole is not good enough then don’t play him or don’t put him in that coverage or give him some help. Lack of communication, breakdown B.S. is on coaching if it keeps happening. And it keeps happening.
    2 – the inability to score a TD with 1rst and goal from the 3. Not only on Westbrook for dropping the TD pass on 3rd down but the stupid play calling and personnel choice on first and second downs. Dumd excuse not to run it with Taylor or Brown because they “are lacking in pass protection” or catching the ball out of the backfield. Like Adam said those two plays everyone knew it was going to be a run. Run Taylor or Brown instead of diminutive Powell into the line. Stupid. That is on coaching first and Westbrook second.
    3 – Driskel forcing a pass down the middle with double coverage and no receiver open resulting in an INT.
    That one is on Driskel.
    I lay the blame of the loss on Muschamp and Driskel.
    I like Roper calling several long throws in the game too.
    I don’t like that it is Driskel throwing those long passes though. Of course he only hit one of all those. It was a good one and put us in position to win. But only one hit out of many is not enough. and of course he had to follow that with another stupid decision, another bad throw resulting in an INT in the next series which led to the winning LSU FG.
    Finally: “I fully expect Jeff to roll out there on Saturday and be Jeff, so Treon should be entering the game by the end of the 1st Q at the latest.”
    Jeff will be sucky Jeff for sure and I hope you are right and Treon comes in in the first quarter, I fear we won’t see him until the 3rd though. Hope you are right and I am wrong.
    A 2 QB system is much better than having one QB when that QB is Jeff Driskel, the worst QB in the SEC.

    • Razzlegator says:

      Now that we have the definitive opinion on the subject, does that mean that the comments section is closed?

      • 305Gator says:

        Relax dude, I said my piece and you are free to do the same. If you disagree you can say so. If you agree same thing. You don’t have to act like an assclown though.

    • ntcrze says:

      Before throwing Poole under the bus on the long pass, would not it be fair to know if it was him that didn’t do his job? Muschamp didn’t say who was the guilty party. It could have just as well been Keanu Neal who was twiddling his thumbs in the center of the field.

  8. SECFootball says:

    I am not defending Driskel but I think the 2-QB system can work. It is what Roper has ran at Duke and it was very successful. The goal is to move the chains and if they involves Driskel running more, then I’m with it. I personally think we need Driskel in the running game. He’s 6’4 235 and him running gets his confidence going. Treon will bring another explosive element to the offense as far as rolling out of the pocket and creating big plays with his legs and arm.

  9. Wildcat says:

    Mizzou is awful this year. If we lose to them at home then Muschamp should be relieved of his coaching duties immediately after the game. Muschamp will be the new defensive coordinator at South Carolina or Texas A&M next year if we don’t win the SEC East. I was the first to say it right here on your exclusive ONLYGATORS message board!

    • ntcrze says:

      What a brilliant observation, Capt. Obvious. I’m going to make sure to take note and remember since it was so insightful.

    • 305Gator says:

      Don’t know why folks are getting so chippy with the replies, it’s unnecessary.
      Mizzou is not “awful”, they seem mediocre though, Vandy is awful. LSU is also mediocre and they beat us at our house. If we lose to Mizzou I don’t think Muschamp will be fired immediately but likely at season’s end.
      Interesting your prediction of where he will land, he may end up being a good DC.

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