Quarterbacks Comfortable in Unique Situation

When head coach Will Muschamp sat Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel down with six days until the first game, neither quarterback knew what was coming. Muschamp was expected to name his starting quarterback the next day, but the meeting produced more questions. The two-quarterback system doesn't provide much clarity, but it does keep both quarterbacks alive in the race to be named the starter.

Neither quarterback is sure of when they will play on Saturday against Bowling Green. All that Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel know is that they'll each get one quarter of the first half to show what they can do. It could be their last quarter on the field for the season. It could be the start of a long run as Florida's quarterback.

There's a lot of uncertainty that goes with it, but part of that is what the Brissett and Driskel think the coaches wanted—pressure. The coaches can get a better idea of what both quarterbacks bring to the table by watching how they perform during a game.

"I don't think anyone was really expecting that," Jeff Driskel said of the situation. "They wanted to choose a starter before the first game, but we both have performed so well that it's difficult to do that."

The decision of which quarterback will handle which quarter won't be made until later in the week. The Florida coaches and Brissett have downplayed the importance of whether Brissett or Driskel gets the first quarter with the offense, but Driskel didn't see it that way.

"I'd like to play the first, but that doesn't matter," Driskel said. "We're both going to try to do the same thing. We're on the same team. We both want to win."

The performances both quarterbacks show on Saturday should have a big part in their playing time going forward. The coaches spent the entire spring and fall practice sessions watching the battle unfold and trying to get an answer. Without being able to do that, they've pushed the battle back through the first game of the season.

Even the decisions made at halftime could say a lot about the future of the quarterback position.

"I'm sure it'll have a big factor in it," Driskel said about Saturday's performance compared to the future. "They're going to be looking at us both real closely. This is our biggest opportunity and biggest chance."

Pease said they would reevaluate the quarterback situation after the game. Driskel admitted that it wouldn't be ideal for the two-quarterback system to remain with the team for too long but said they would find a way to make it work if that's what the coaches wanted.

With no media availability until Monday morning with Muschamp, the Gators could elect to wait until then before naming one starting quarterback for the second week of the season at Texas A&M. If that's the route the coaches want to go, neither quarterback expects things to be finished when the starter is announced.

"The battle will never end," Brissett said. "Every day is a struggle, and you've got to go compete as hard as you can and to the best of your ability."

Brissett said if Driskel were named the starter, his mindset would be to "make sure I win the job the next week."

The goal of Saturday's performance is to see how the quarterbacks handle the pressure. No matter what the two did in John Brantley's absence last year, there was never a feeling that either backup could do something that would earn him the job. Brantley would get healthy and regain the reigns to the team.

That's no longer the case.

It's all on Brissett and Driskel to run the team this year. There's enough pressure in that alone. Add in a packed stadium in The Swamp and the anticipation of a new season, there's plenty of pressure to help evaluate how the quarterbacks play.

"We're going to have pressure the rest of the season," Driskel said. "Game two we're going to Texas A&M for their first SEC game. If too much pressure is on the first game, they don't want someone like that for the second game."

Driskel was cleared for contact by Florida trainers on Sunday. He missed two days of practice and was held out of contact for a week after hurting his non-throwing shoulder when it was hit from behind during one of the days Muschamp pulled the non-contact jerseys off the quarterbacks. He said on Tuesday that the injury was "blown out of proportion."

The challenge is now to make sure that the quarterbacks don't become comfortable in the red jerseys. Pease noted on Tuesday that Brissett needed to stop holding the ball so long in the pocket and feared that non-contact jerseys could encourage that.

"Being in red jerseys, you don't get hit," Brissett said. "He doesn't want us to come into a game and feel like we have a red jersey on so that we won't get hit. He wants that timing down."

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