Pease Preparing to Play Two Quarterbacks

After Florida quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel each finish their quarter of the first half, the coaching staff will make a decision at halftime about the rest of the game's setup. Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease admitted on Tuesday that it isn't the ideal route for his team to go, but it's the best way for them to figure out a quarterback after the two had strong fall camps.

"Tough to answer, but I don't think so," Brent Pease said when asked if the handling of the quarterbacks was sustainable for more than one week. "That's just my gut feeling. It depends on how they play and what they create. Each kid has progressed and done a good job. It's not what they bring to our team. It's the situation they present to the defensive coordinator."

It's not ideal for the coaches, Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel. It still might be the best way for the coaches to find the starter. Pease wasn't sure if this situation would be the best fit for the Gators after this weekend, and with a trip to Texas A&M looming next weekend, Pease wouldn't prefer to go to College Station with an unsettled quarterback spot.

Still, he wouldn't say this was the only weekend it would happen. Pease said the coaching staff would talk more about how to handle the quarterback job once they get a look at each quarterback during a game situation on Saturday.

"The good thing is that they'll be in real game situations," Pease said. "As much as what we tried to do in practice and make it a situation where they'll grow, now you'll get to see that. When the lights come on, it'll be different for each kid. Hopefully they're prepared and accept the challenge."

It's not ideal, but it's likely the best way to handle the first game. Florida head coach Will Muschamp said on Monday that both quarterbacks maintained even statistics and completion percentages in scrimmages and normal practice days. They've been even from the start, and the coaches want to give them an opportunity to prove what they can do in a game situation before announcing a starter.

"They've both really done a good job in how they've handled it and progressed," Pease said. "It would be hard to name a starter right now because—what would you be telling the other kid? If they separated from each other, yeah, but they both have made good progress and done good things."

Once halftime rolls around and Brissett and Driskel have each run the team for a quarterback, the coaches will meet in the locker room and focus on "who's moving the team."

Both saw action in high pressure games last year. For Driskel, it was getting the call at the end of the first half against Alabama when John Brantley went down with an injury against one of the best defenses in the country. For Brissett, it was getting his first career start in one of the most hostile road environments at LSU. The quarterbacks also faced tough road atmospheres like Auburn without Brantley taking snaps.

They were thrown into tough spots as freshmen, but there was always an understanding that Brantley was the starter. That's no longer the case. It's a different kind of pressure they'll face on Saturday. It's not about the team on the other side of the field or the opposition they'll face when trying to run the offense.

The pressure is about who can run the team and the offense the best with just one quarter to prove it.

"That's what we're going to find out—who performs with 90,000 people out there and having to execute plays, move the ball down the field and manage the game," Pease said.

It won't be until later in the weekend when a decision is made about which quarterback gets which quarter. Pease joked about possibly flipping a coin after Thursday's practice to make the call. There was talk about alternating drives with each quarterback, but Pease wants both to get into a rhythm.

The Florida coaching staff didn't want to create a fear in either sophomore quarterback that one mistake could cost him an opportunity for the job.

"We don't want to create where they're looking over their shoulder every series," Pease said. "You get too uneasy and it puts too much pressure on you. It's a situation of—in a game—you're trying to get 14-15 drives and balance in out from there. Each will get three or four series where they can do something. Sometimes you're in a situation where we might have to play some field position and punt the ball."

Whoever gets the first quarter under center will lead the Florida offense during the first quarter of the season. The other quarterback will spend the first quarter on the headset with Pease, who will be in the booth during games. He acknowledged that could give the second quarterback an advantage after seeing what the Bowling Green offense will run.

Pease will also script the first 10-15 plays of the first quarter, but he won't do that for the second quarter.

There is still work to be done for each quarterback. Pease has spent the fall working with both of them to correct small issues with their ability to play the position.

Brissett has spent the fall working on how he handles himself in the pocket. Pease said he can get caught getting too comfortable in the pocket and drawing plays out longer than they should, which puts extra pressure on the offensive line.

"He is comfortable in the pocket, but he likes to sit in there and hold it, then try to throw down field because he can throw off balance," Pease said. "He's got a strong arm. He can flick it. If it's not there, he needs to pull it down and go."

It's a different issue for Driskel. His athleticism helps him make plays with his legs if a throw isn't there, but he has to be smarter when running with the ball.

"He's not afraid to run—protecting himself on the move," Pease said. "Sometimes he thinks he's a fullback or sliding into second. He needs to protect himself on the run and make quick decisions."

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