QB Jeff Driskel says benching was ‘tough’ but he’s happy to contribute to Florida Gators

By Adam Silverstein
November 13, 2014

The snaps are drastically reduced and therefore his opportunities are more limited, but redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel still has a role on the Florida Gators, and he plans to do whatever it takes to help his team.

Take Saturday’s 34-10 win over Vanderbilt, when a finally-healthy Driskel (back) broke a 7-7 tie by leaping over a goal line pile on fourth down to score a go-ahead, one-yard touchdown.

Fans groaned when they saw Driskel enter the game on two separate goal line opportunities in consecutive series. The coaching staff and Driskel’s teammates felt otherwise, especially when they saw him extend his arms – and the ball – into the end zone.

“Jeff did a great job. I don’t care what anybody says,” said offensive coordinator Kurt Roper on Tuesday. “That’s a great play on his part getting that one in, in that situation. The player made a play.”


Added junior wide receiver Latroy Pittman: “That was nice to see for him. … He’s taking his role however it may be, it was good to see him get in there. … It’s fun to see him get back out there and get snaps. … It was fun to see him go high over the top of the pile and get in the end zone for us.”

Driskel is neither blind nor deaf; he sees and hears the vitriol, which was flung around about him and the Gators while the team lost back-to-back games against unranked Southeastern Conference foes at home. And he understands that his poor play was a big reason for Florida’s struggles because 12 turnovers in four games (four against Missouri alone) are hard to ignore.

So while Driskel expected his demotion, it was still disappointing.

“It’s been tough,” Driskel said Tuesday, according to the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson. “I’m not going to say it hasn’t been difficult. But at the end of the day, I’m still doing what I’ve always done. I’m still preparing to be ready to go in and make plays if my number gets called. That’s what I owe this team.”

Driskel could have distanced himself from the team, crawled into a hole and allowed depression to sink in. Instead, he and the Gators bottled up their emotions, stuck together and continued to work hard, just as they had been all season.

“There was a lot of negative press going around our program and that’s just something you have to deal with playing at a big program at the University of Florida. I don’t think we let it get to us. We didn’t read much into it,” he said. “We just kept doing what we were doing. I think that we were preparing well even before the bye week. We just continued to stay the course. We just made plays in these last two games as a team.”

He did not play against Georgia, though he was active for the contest. Roper and head coach Will Muschamp said Driskel’s back injury was not completely healed, but he was also not needed in the game. One week later at Vanderbilt, Florida saw an opportunity to take advantage of Driskel’s size, strength and athleticism; it paid off.

When not on the field, Driskel has continued to be a consummate teammate, working with freshman QB Treon Harris, his replacement, to help the youngster prepare before and make adjustments during games.

“Being a competitor, you always want to be the guy to have the ball. I think it goes back to I was raised right. I think my parents did a really good job of instilling a sense of the team is greater than the individual. … Any time you can contribute to the team and to a good team win, it’s a good feeling,” he said, according to the Miami Herald’s Jesse Simonton.

“I think everybody on the team should have the same sense of responsibility to the team. If it’s being in a Wildcat-type role, I want to be ready and able to run the ball and understand the blocking schemes and the defense we’re going to get. That’s not just me that feels that type of responsibility; I think that’s something you have to have in a team sport.”

Driskel also praised Muschamp and his Florida teammates for sticking together and righting the ship. As for his own role, he’s ready to do what’s necessary for the remainder of the season.

“That’s what you have to do,” he said, per the Sentinel. “There’s no point of looking back or looking into the future. You’ve got to be able to focus on one day at a time and one team at a time.”

How much Driskel will see the field going forward remains to be seen. Whether he plans to return to the Gators in 2015, his redshirt senior season, is also an unknown.

For now, he is content with Florida winning football games and will do whatever he can to help his team best reach that goal each week – just like always.

Photo Credit: Butch Dill/Associated Press

18 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    I’d love to see Jeff try to make the transition to tight end/ wide receiver in the spring.

  2. Christine Gregory says:

    A good reminder that the players on this team are young men making an effort to excel. They are students, not paid professionals.

    • Michael Jones says:

      Thank you, Christine. Well-said and oh-so-true.

      Hopefully that will slow down the feeding frenzy a bit. Although I’m pretty sure that Jeff is also responsible for global warming.

  3. Timmy T says:

    Jeff has been a class act from day one. Football or no football, he’ll be successful in life. I wish he had progressed as the QB at UF, but as we all know he didn’t. Best of luck to Jeff Driskel. He tried at least.

  4. Bill Longworth says:

    Jeff is a true class act. I was not crazy about his performance on the field, and would have like to see a change earlier, but the kid (and let’s remember, people, that’s what all of these players are: kids) has handled the situation as well as anyone could. I wish him the utmost success in whatever his future holds.

  5. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    I would have to agree I would like to see Jeff in a tight end half back situation. He”s got the Size, Athleticism, and Speed to be a Halfback Tight End hybrid….

    PS he’s Not a good passer he might be a better pass catcher. plus the McGee injury having Driskel would be a great addition and a tie that position

  6. Matthew says:

    Jeff won’t be around next year to play TE. He will be playing minor league ball for the Red Sox. You can book that

    • Michael J. says:

      That ship may have sailed for Driskel. He’s never been the brightest bulb in the room, and his decision to give up baseball was a horrible one. Baseball is very much a game that requires a lot of reps. How many years has it been since Driskel played baseball? It was a dumb decision on his part to put all his eggs into the hope of being an NFL quarterback. You should always keep your options open. I know there is a hate fest here over Jameis Winston, but he is much smarter than Jeff Driskel, on and off the field. There has never been the slightest doubt that he has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback, yet he didn’t close off his option to also play baseball. I hope Driskel can make it in baseball, but he faces an uphill climb due to his foolish decision to stop playing the sport. As stated above, baseball requires a ton of reps, and Jeff can’t get back the ones he foolishly gave up.

      • Michael Jones says:

        Since when does being a clever, dishonest, narcissistic little gutter rat who is able to con a not-so-bright coach and an entire institution who have willingly turned a blind-eye to his true character and sold their souls and reputation in exchange for a few wins pass as “intelligence?”

        When you make the choices that you guys have made to keep that clown as your QB, there is always a price to pay. It may seem like all is well in Nole Land today, but there will be a price to pay.

        I’ll take 1 Jeff Driskel over a 100 Jameis Winstons any day of the week. We haven’t won a national championship in a few years but I’m proud that our institution isn’t willing to sacrifice all that it stands for in order to win one.

      • DFWGator says:

        “I know there is a hate fest here over Jameis Winston, but he is much smarter than Jeff Driskel, on and off the field.”

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Thanks Mr. Troll. That’ll get me through the rest of the day.

        Didn’t know hiring comedic relief was part of the expansion plan, Adam, but boy was that entertaining.

        • Michael J. says:

          It’s just the facts.Driskel is very slow in processing information, he has an analog mind in a digital age. Winston has a pH D in football, Driskel never got out of grammar school, he’s never read a defense in his life. You can bash Winston, but it’s not based on facts, for instance he doesn’t even have a criminal record. He’s not the villain you hope him to be, unless you’re facing him on the field, then he’s your worst nightmare. I wish I didn’t have to defend him, but this witch hunt of him is ludicrous.

          • Michael Jones says:

            Dude, it’s safe to say that as long as the Tallahassee Police Department or the FSU Police Department are involved in the investigation, no Nole will ever have a criminal record.

  7. gatorboi352 says:

    “The coaching staff and Driskel’s teammates felt otherwise, especially when they saw him extend his arms – and the ball – into the end zone.”

    Interestingly enough, going back and watching that TD, Jeff actually didn’t extend his arms at all, which resulted in such an iffy looking score in the first place.

    I’d really like to see him go play for Sully and the baseball team.

    • He did…but you know, he was jumping over masses of humanity and did not have the ability to Superman the thing.

      • gatorboi352 says:

        You know, as I watch that play over and over, I can’t help but think he didn’t extend the arms outward due to a lack of confidence (potential for fumble, etc..) given his recent string of play time this year. Won’t know for sure, but he definitely had a look of “man i hope i don’t F this up!” about him when he left his feet.

        Perhaps it’s all much ado about nothing.

    • Colin says:

      I don’t think Jeff can play for Sully anymore. He signed with the Red Sox, and I think he lost his baseball eligibility/amateur status as a result.

  8. Sam Andreu says:

    Smarter than Jamies? Are you somewhere drugs are legal? Maybe not the athlete on the field Jamies is, or the leader… But smarter than Jeff? You enjoy your own opinion, don’t you?

    • Michael J. says:

      It’s not a secret that Driskel has a difficult time processing information. He’s very slow at it and that’s part of the reason he’s a bad quarterback. It’s just a fact, Jeff Driskel is not mentally capable of playing quarterback. We have all seen that to be true. Maybe he is smart, but he needs a lot of time to process information, and quarterback is not a position for a slow thinker.

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