Appendectomy a bump in the road for QB Driskel

By Adam Silverstein
August 1, 2013

Florida Gators’ 2013 Media Day: Story: Injured Matt Jones, Jon Halapio, others join Jeff Driskel on sidelines | News, Notes & Quotes – Will Muschamp breaks down the Gators | Story: It’s now or never for Florida WR Andre Debose | Story: RB Brown, QB Murphy ready to step up for Gators

Florida Gators junior quarterback Jeff Driskel will have some catching up to do by the time he recovers from his appendectomy and is cleared to practice with the team, but the incumbent starter is not too worried about picking up where he left off at the conclusion of the player-run practices over the summer.

“Luckily we did do a lot of work in the summer, so I won’t miss too much,” Driskel said of the 1-2 weeks of action he will have to sit out. “Obviously I’d like to be out there but the reps with those other guys will help them, and if anything does happen to me down the road during the season, those other guys will be ready.”

The “other guys” include redshirt junior Tyler Murphy, redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg and freshman Max Staver, three quarterbacks that have a combined zero snaps behind center as college football players.

Muschamp, at his press conference on Thursday, declared Murphy the “clear-cut back-up” for Driskel, and the starter thinks his understudy is ready for the opportunity.

“He’s always gone in with the [thought] that he’s one play or one injury away from being the starter,” Driskel said. “He’s really attacked the offseason like he should. He’s definitely going to get more reps than he thought here to start camp. He’s going to have to make plays, and I believe that he can.”

The appendicitis was certainly an unexpected blow for Driskel, who by all accounts worked hard over the summer to stay in shape and grow as a leader.

He told reporters on Thursday that he started feeling sick with a stomach ache on Monday and woke up Tuesday with worsening stomach pains. Driskel’s roommate, former Gators offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (who never stepped on the field but received a medical exemption to remain in school on scholarship), told him Monday that it could be appendicitis, which led Driskel to spring into action when he felt the additional pain on Tuesday.

“[He] had a friend a couple years ago who had appendicitis, had some lower-right abdominal pain. He got me worried there. I did some research. The next day, I got it checked it out and went from there,” Driskel said. “We’re lucky we found it early and handled that before it got bad. It could have been a lot worse. We’re lucky we have a world-class medical staff here.”

Driskel admitted that he is frustrated with having to miss time at the start of camp but noted that injures are simply “part of life.” Considering he is already starting to feel better and doctors do not believe there will be any complications following the surgery, he will be back on the practice fields sooner than later.

“I was just worried about getting healthy. Appendicitis can get bad if you don’t take care of it, so I just wanted to take care of it and get it out of the way,” he said. “After everything settled, I was a little bummed out that I’m going to have to miss a little bit of camp, but that’s part of it.”

Driskel will have every opportunity to take his game to the next level this season. The offensive line and playmakers around him have all improved, and he will also be playing within offensive coordinator Brent Pease’s system for the second-straight year.

Having a familiarity with the play calls and formations sets Driskel’s mind at ease and is a welcome benefit for a player who had to learn new offenses in each of his first two seasons at Florida.

“That’s huge,” he said. “Going into last [year’s] camp, it was more teaching rather than refining stuff. This year most of us know what we’re doing, except the freshmen, obviously. They have a big learning curve. But going in this year, it’s more refining stuff rather than teaching whole schemes, so that’s really the biggest thing, working on our game rather than knowing the plays.”

Driskel will also have the opportunity learn from offensive graduate assistant and former Gators QB Chris Leak, who rejoined the program in May but was not approved to teach players directly until this week.

“I’m really excited I get to work with him. He’s done just about everything you can do here at the University of Florida, so he’s a great reference,” Driskel said. “I’m just excited to work with him. He seems to be a guy that will really work his tail off to help me out, so whatever he’s willing to do, I’m willing to take it.”

For a team hoping to see its quarterback pass for more than 2,100 yards, complete more than 200 passes and toss more than 15 touchdowns for the first time since 2009, the Gators can be relieved that Driskel’s medical issue appears only to be a bump in the road rather than a nagging injury that might have turned into a season-long concern.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

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