Muschamp Preparing Driskel for First Start

Will Muschamp knows a lot about the atmosphere his team will be facing in Baton Rouge with weekend. He spent four years as the defensive coordinator for the Tigers and had the home field advantage of Death Valley behind him. This weekend, he'll take a team with a freshman starting quarterback into Baton Rouge to face LSU. It's not the best case scenario for Florida, but it's the only option.

John Brantley was injured on Saturday when Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw sacked him. Muschamp wouldn't clarify what the injury was, only saying it was a "lower leg injury." He said surgery has been ruled out but wouldn't specify on a timetable. Muschamp said he would update Brantley's status the Monday before every game.

"John is disappointed," Will Muschamp said Monday morning. "He was playing extremely well. He threw the ball well against a really good football team. We're hurting for him, but it's time to pick up the other guy, and that's what our football team will do."

For now, that other guy is freshman Jeff Driskel. He played Saturday when Brantley went down and it's expected that he will get his first career start this Saturday in Baton Rouge.

Freshman Jacoby Brissett and redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy will also get increased reps in practice this week. It's possible that multiple quarterbacks could see action Saturday, including wildcat formations, but Driskel should get the nod to start.

"We've been pleased with Jeff and his progress at the quarterback position," Muschamp said. "Right now, he'd be our starter."

Driskel sprained his ankle against Alabama on Saturday, but Muschamp said he is fine. The real concern is his first action coming in one of the most hostile environments in the country. He brings plenty of athleticism an the ability to extend plays when the pocket breaks down, but he is still raw.

Muschamp thinks the team has confidence in the freshman after watching him compete in spring practice when he enrolled early, but playing in front of 93,000 in attendance Saturday.

"Jeff is a very mature young man," Muschamp said. "He went through spring with us and is an outstanding athlete. He's got legs and can run. He can give you some variety in escaping the pocket. It's a collective team effort. We've got to play well around Jeff."

One way to make it easier for the freshman is to simplify things. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will spend the week searching for the plays that showcase Driskel's strengths.

"More than anything, you do what he does well," Muschamp said. "That's what Charlie will do, and we talked about it this morning in how to approach the game. It's the same thing with John. You do the things he's comfortable with, regardless of experience level."

REVIEWING ALABAMA: Muschamp didn't have many positive to take from the 38-10 loss to Alabama. After the first offensive play of the game, the Gators didn't hit many big plays and struggled to run the football. The Florida offensive line was blown off the ball while the Alabama offensive line set the tone for the game.

"It's a line of scrimmage game, and that was the story of the game," Muschamp said. "We were dominated up front on both lines of scrimmage. That's where it all started. We knew that going into the game."

Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps combined to carry the ball 14 times for a total of eight yards. The running game carried the offense through the first four games of the season, but against one of the toughest run defenses in the country, they were nowhere to be found.

"With our inability to run the ball against them, when you become one dimensional against that team, it's tough," Muschamp said.

It wasn't much better on defense. Missed tackles allowed running back Trent Richardson to plow for 181 yards and two touchdowns. The Gators couldn't slow him down, allowing Alabama to slow the tempo of the game and milk the clock when they had a two-possession lead in the second half.

The defensive line couldn't get much pressure, but the linebackers and secondary struggled to tackle Richardson.

"We need to leverage the ball better," Muschamp said. "When the ball gets to the second level, we need to get him on the ground."

PREPARING FOR LSU: There isn't a more battle-tested team in the country than LSU. Their tough schedule to open the season has benefited them and elevated the Tigers to the No. 1 team in the country.

The offense hasn't needed to do much because of the strong defensive play, but quarterback Jarrett Lee has played smart and limited the mistakes.

"They've got a balanced football team," Muschamp said. "Offensively, they run the ball extremely well and they're big up front. They throw the ball well down the field. Jarrett Lee has thrown the ball really well to this point, and they get Jordan Jefferson back, a guy who has won a lot of football games for them. (Jefferson) does give them a new wrinkle on offense with some of the (shotgun) runs."

On defense, the Tigers are suffocating. While Alabama ranks at the top of most defensive categories in the SEC, LSU comes in as one of the top four defenses in most categories. The statistics are somewhat deceiving because LSU has played a tougher schedule than most of the teams in the conference.

The Tigers are allowing 262.2 yards per game, but they offer a similar look to Alabama in that both units specialize in stopping the run. LSU has allowed just 60.4 rushing yards per game this season.

"They're very good up front," Muschamp said. "I've got a lot of respect for John Chavis, their defensive coordinator. They have a lot of guys up front who can play. They've done a nice job with the defensive line in rotating those guys."

In the secondary, it's all about Tyrann Mathieu. The sophomore has forced four fumbles already this season, causing the Florida playmakers to pay extra attention to ball security this week in practice.

"Tyrann Mathieu is a guy that shows up an awful lot on film," Muschamp said. "He gets the ball off people with interceptions, caused fumbles and recovered fumbles. He is an electric player with his punt returns. You've got to be aware of a player like that and do a good job of ball security."

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