Quarterback Battle Expected to Continue

Will Muschamp knew this was a possibility. With the spring game taking place on Saturday, the coaches aren't close to deciding which quarterback will be named the starter for the fall. Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel have each taken steps forward in spring practice because of increased repetition and natural progression that comes in a player's second year on the team.

"I don't know that we will name a starter after spring," Will Muschamp said before Monday's practice. "We're going to go into fall camp. That, to me, is becoming more evident every day. They're both guys that we can win with. That's the bottom line.

"Not much separation. Both guys have done some nice things for us. I thought we did a nice job of managing our offense. We did a nice job as far as the procedural issues—getting in and out of the huddle and doing motions quite a bit. Both of the guys are doing a nice job of that."

Muschamp is confident in the ability of Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel to throw the football. Both showed flashes of that in spot duty during the 2011 season, and they've taken the next steps this spring.

The part the coaches are focusing on now is their ability to run the team.

That is made more difficult by first-year offensive coordinator Brent Pease putting in his offense this spring. The quarterbacks are learning the offense on the fly while also trying to compete and win the starting job.

"I'm very pleased with their progress, as much as anything in managing our football team and getting in and out of the huddle and taking command of the offense," Muschamp said. "Both of them are working extremely hard off the field. They're always in the building watching film and doing things you've got to do to be successful."

Neither quarterback stood out during their opportunities to get reps last season. Brissett went 18-39 (46.2%) for 206 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Driskel went 16-34 (47.1%) for 148 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

None of those numbers should inspire confidence in an offense that desperately needs someone to step up under center.

Muschamp didn't know what to expect when they took the practice field this spring, but both quarterbacks have responded to the opportunity to win the starting job.

"The game has slowed down for them," Muschamp said. "That's the number one thing. I stand behind the offense, and you see the progression from reading front side to back side or middle field to split safety. They get to the line of scrimmage and realize that this is a bad front to run this play into, so let's run it the other way.

"They understand that more. It makes more sense to them. The game slows down for older players because they're able to see and anticipate, even though we've changed some things from a verbiage standpoint."

The two will have their final opportunity of the spring to impress when they take the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. Muschamp was sure to downplay what the outcome means. It will be the final of 15 spring practices for the Gators, and he doesn't want to ignore what has happened in the first 14 practices for what happens on Saturday.

There's also the importance of playing well in front of a crowd. Each quarterback got into home and away games last season, so they were able to get the experience of playing in front of friendly and road crowds. While their performances on Saturday will have some importance because of the crowd, the coaches won't wipe out what has happened on the practice field this spring.

"To say, well this guy had one good day compared to the other 14 days of competing," Muschamp said. "It's too close to call, as far as the competition is concerned, to take one day over the others. Would it be important? Certainly."


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