"It was pretty much my practicing habits and being consistent in practice to show the coaches I can compete at a competitive level on Saturday," Andre Debose said Tuesday. "That's what I finally realized.
"It's definitely a nice feeling to be involved in the offense."
Debose looked like he was coming on early in the season, but he sprained his ankle against Tennessee. The injury had him on crutches after the game and wearing a boot for the following few days. He missed the Kentucky game because of the injury, but he didn't miss any practice before the Alabama game.
That's where his emergence began.
He gives the Gators a deep threat that has been missing from the offense, and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis wanted to showcase it from the first snap. After a strong showing on the practice field, Debose has seen improvement in his game. However, it's now about proving he can do it in more than one game.
"I feel like I can be consistent," Debose said. "I definitely will be getting my opportunities, and that's really all I've asked for, just that opportunity to make plays."
There's no question about his speed, but the improvement on the practice field needed to come in his route running. In high school, Debose was able to run by defenders at will. Now that he's facing defenders with similar speed, he has to be technically sound in order to get open.
"It's just about everything that goes into being a wide receiver," Debose said. "I was still trying to learn to get better. It's just the little things like route running and blocking."
Things will change this week as the Gators head to Baton Rouge with a freshman quarterback under center. The injury to John Brantley against Alabama forced Driskel into the game, and it looks like he will be running the offense for at least the next two weeks.
That could cause panic on some teams, but the Florida playmakers are confident in Driskel, even as they face a tough road environment at LSU. The freshman enrolled early and went through spring practice with the team, and the maturation process since then has impressed his teammates.
"His whole attitude has changed in the time he has been here," Debose said. "He's a whole different person. He let us know that he doesn't even consider himself a freshman anymore."
He also adds the ability to run. Brantley stayed in the pocket and wasn't a threat to tuck the ball and run, but Driskel's athleticism is one of the qualities that makes him unique.
"When things are going bad, he can get away with his legs," Debose said. "That's one thing he can bring to the offense that Johnny B couldn't. When the pocket breaks down, Driskel can run away."
Driskel's athleticism also means the receivers will need to change how they play. His ability to escape the pocket could produce some long plays where the receivers need to break off their routes and get in position for Driskel to find them.
"He keeps a lot of plays alive a lot longer, so the scramble plays into effect," Debose said. "You try to get open sometimes rather than a set route."