Health Still an Issue at Quarterback

The depth chart at quarterback for the Gators this week will depend on the same things it did last week. While head coach Will Muschamp waits to get a report on Jeff Driskel's ankle, Florida will start practice this week with the position again open to the freshman that looks best during the week. If Jacoby Brissett earns the job this week, Muschamp is confident after his performance against LSU.

"I thought Jacoby did a good job," Will Muschamp said. "I thought [Jacoby] managed our offense really well, and what we asked him to do, he did very well. He's a very composed young man, very intelligent. He's athletic and he's smart. He has worked extremely hard since he's been here as far as learning the offense, learning what to do and how we want to do it, to manage our football team. I have been very pleased with his progress.

"I've said this before, but we need to play well around the quarterback. So much falls on the quarterback. We have to play well upfront, wide out and at running back. Those are things that we have to continue to do."

The scaled back playbook for Brissett was intentional. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis didn't want to give a freshman too much to digest in a game that wasn't just his first start, it was also his first time under center in college football.

Weis didn't want Brissett to be overwhelmed, especially in one of the loudest environments in college football, so they thinned out the playbook. With one game under his belt, if Brissett gets the nod this weekend, Muschamp expects to see more offensive plays in action when the Gators travel to Auburn.

"I think so," Muschamp said. "We did some things that we felt we needed to do in order to win the game. That was having a package with Trey Burton, and some of our stuff with Chris [Rainey] and Jeff [Demps] being the quarterback and working some of the run game. Then there was doing some things as far as what we would do with Jacoby. Certainly there would be something different offensively. If you continue to do the same thing, you get the same results, so we need to change."

Muschamp said the ideal way to go through the week of practice is to split reps evenly between Brissett and Driskel. He expects Driskel to be able to practice on Monday when the team got back on the field for a short practice.

"We would generally go into a situation where they split reps, so there would be equal reps as far as that is concerned because they're very similar players," Muschamp said. "It's not like one guy is a different quarterback than the other guy. But, a lot of that is going to depend on Jeff's ankle at this point.

"How many reps will he be able to rep in practice? I don't know at this point. As we move further in the week, I'll know how much he'll be able to go and compete for the job this week. That will determine the reps, and then obviously determine the starter."

Muschamp wouldn't give the time where the team needs to know who will start, but he emphasized the importance of Tuesday's practice. That's when a majority of the game plan goes in for the offense to learn. Reps also need to be split from there on so that the starter gets more snaps.

"As you start to work through Tuesday's practice, you need to move forward," Muschamp said.

INJURY REPORT: Muschamp said that cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) and quarterback John Brantley (ankle) are both out Saturday at Auburn. After Ronald Powell and Josh Evans left the game at LSU, the head coach expects both to play this weekend.

Brantley has made progress since suffering the injury.

"He's working hard," Muschamp said. "He's been in the training room a lot. He went on the road with us. He got all the reps he could get as far as rehabbing his ankle. We feel like he's making good progress, we just want to move forward with that."

CREATING TURNOVERS: The Gators haven't forced a turnover in the last two games, and a combined 58 points have beaten them in those two. Muschamp doesn't think that's a coincidence. After emphasizing the importance and need to be a "ball hawking" defense, it hasn't come.

Texas led the country in turnovers during Muschamp's second year as the defensive coordinator. Despite similar teaching techniques, the results aren't there.

"So far, this year, we have not done a good job with turnovers," Muschamp said. "How do you explain that? We practice the same way we practiced at Texas – as far as emphasizing being a ball hawk, turnovers, all the positive reinforcements you can have as far as promoting a turnover and stripping the ball. Those are things that I hope start to come in bunches for us. We haven't had any in the last two games.

"We had several opportunities during the first four games to have some turnovers. We capitalized at times, and at times we didn't. We certainly need to create some positive momentum for our football team, especially for our offense at this point."

INVOLVING OTHERS: While Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps have seen their effectiveness decrease in the last two weeks, Mike Gillislee made an impact when the game was out of reach Saturday in Baton Rouge, running the ball nine times for 56 yards against LSU. Gillislee also had six carries for 84 yards and a touchdown late in the blowout of Kentucky earlier this year.

His continued production should turn into more carries when the game is close this season.

"Mike played well," Muschamp said. "He's one of the guys that we recognized that played the way you need to play – with some toughness. He's a guy that plays great on special teams. He's a guy that we need to get some more touches."

LOOKING AT AUBURN: After two blowout losses, the Gators aren't going to have any ease game to bounce back. Florida heads to Auburn for a night game this weekend for an offense that provides a new challenge.

Alabama and LSU have lined up in pro style and run the ball down Florida's throat, but Auburn does things differently. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn uses a spread formation with a quick tempo, but it's still based around the run.

"They're no-huddle the whole game, and then they have different sets of tempo that they go with," Muschamp said. "They're on the ball, they look back to the sideline, they may look back twice, then they're on the ball and they snap it. You have to be ready to play as far as within your package and you have to be limited in your substitutions. That is what they try do to – tire your front people out as the game wears on there. They do a nice job at that. That is certainly something you have to deal with."

The run game is centered on Michael Dyer. The sophomore has 679 rushing yards through six games this season. Dyer has run the ball 62 times in the last two games, the most in a two-game span since Kenny Irons carried it 65 times in 2005 against Georgia and Alabama.

After rushing for 1,000 yards as a freshman, Dyer is closing in on the number already and would be the fourth Auburn running back in school history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

"I think Malzahn does a nice job of what I like to call "window dressing" in the offense, as far as motion shifts, different formations," Muschamp said. "They do a nice job of protecting the general runs that he's going to make in the game. Dyer is a good football player. He's a low center of gravity guy, very strong, quick step. He has top-end seed, when he breaks into the second level there's not a whole lot of folks catching him. He's a good power runner, and does a nice job."

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