Driskel Improvement Continues in Road Win

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—Jeff Driskel spent his week correcting issues. The sophomore quarterback was sacked eight times at Texas A&M last week, and six of them came when he held the football too long. He wasn't sacked once by Tennessee. Driskel stood in the pocket, delivering big throws on target while taking hits. It was a product of the time spent last week in practice.

"You can't take negative yardage," Jeff Driskel said. "When you take negative yardage, it really hurts what kind of play calls you can do. It hurts you."

That message was pounded into his head last week. He held onto the ball too long last weekend at Texas A&M. He waited too long for Florida receivers to get open downfield and paid for it by putting the Gators behind the chains and stopping drives.

On Saturday, Driskel used his legs more. When things weren't open downfield, the sophomore tucked the ball and ran. He ran the ball eight times for 81 yards with a long of 28. It's those improvements that have Driskel optimistic about his progress.

"I still have a long way to go," he said. "I hit some big plays and definitely got better from game one to two and now game three, but I still have a long way to go."

Tennessee brought pressure to hurry Driskel in the second half, but it didn't change how he looked. He stood in the pocket and took a big hit while delivering a perfect 23-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Reed in the front corner of the end zone. The Gators iced the game with a 75-yard pass where Driskel threw an intermediate route to Frankie Hammond while taking a big hit. Hammond did the rest of the work for a 75-yard touchdown.

There was a confidence in Driskel that wasn't present last week in College Station. He was quick to get the ball out, but the throws weren't rushed. It's signs of a young quarterback settling in during the second start of his career.

"Unbelievable game," Trey Burton said of Driskel. "Really proud of him. We knew that's what he could do, and no one is really surprised. We know how good of an athlete and quarterback that he can be."

The sacks last week were made worse because Driskel locked onto his first read on the play. If the receiver wasn't open, he would hold it too long waiting for it to happen. That meant he made his second and third reads too late, and the pass rush was already on him.

He spent the week continuing to work on quicker reads, and the results were easy to see on Saturday.

"I knew our routes a little better, and I knew their defense a little better," Driskel said. "It makes you more comfortable back there. When you're comfortable, the game really slows down. I thought I got better again this week."

This season didn't have the ideal setup for breaking in a young quarterback. After Driskel and Jacoby Brissett split reps in the first game, Driskel was thrown into the fire at College Station last weekend as the Aggies opened their time in the SEC. Next up was a Tennessee team and fan base going into the game suffering from seven straight losses to Florida.

The atmosphere in Neyland Stadium wasn't supposed to be one that made young players successful. Driskel didn't play like he was intimidated. Muschamp even admitted after the game that he hasn't been around a setup harder for a young quarterback to succeed from than what Driskel went through.

"He made some gutsy plays tonight," Muschamp said. "He was very accurate with the football."

Despite everything against him, the Gators ended the night with a 3-0 record in large part to the way Driskel has played in the last two weeks.

"I thought we could be a team that would put up a lot of points," Driskel said. "We know we have a great defense that's going to give us a lot of chances and a lot of three-and-outs, plus give us the ball back quickly. We have playmakers all over the field."

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