Driskel accepts the blame

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel owned it. He threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles in easily the worst game of his career, but the sophomore quarterback took responsibility for it after the game. His decisions on the field kept points off the board as the Florida offense struggled and often set the Georgia offense up for points.

"I made some critical mistakes," Jeff Driskel said. "That's what it comes down to. When you've got a defense like we do, you can't turn the ball over. They're going to make stops. You can't force things. You've got to take points."

Every young quarterback has this game where nothing goes right. For Driskel, it happened with the SEC East championship on the line.

The first snap of the game should have been a warning. Driskel held onto the ball too long on a read play, causing a fumble on the exchange between him and Mike Gillislee. Driskel fumbled two plays later when he was hit on a throw. He was sacked and lost a fumble on a play late in the first quarter, too.

"When you make that many errors, put the ball on the ground and throw interceptions, it's hard to win games," Driskel said. "It comes down to the basics—taking care of the ball. We'll work on that this week."

Then there were the interceptions.

Driskel forced a throw across his body into the end zone, where he saw an open Trey Burton. The throw was late and it was intercepted by Sanders Commings to end the first half. Driskel was hit while throwing in the second half, and Damian Swann intercepted that pass.

The first interception hurt the most. Florida was down 7-6 and driving late in the first half, but instead of taking even the three points for a field goal, the interception sent the Gators to the locker room without any points on that drive.

"I saw Trey. It was a scramble move, but I saw Trey late," Driskel said. "Whenever you throw back across your body when you're on the move, it's tough. I can't make that mistake, especially in the end zone.

"It was a dumb mistake. I'll have to learn from it."

It was obvious from early in the game that Driskel would have to throw for the Florida offense to move the ball. Georgia stacked the box and was determined to take Gillislee out of the game.

"They were definitely loading the box," Driskel said. "They were going to stop Mike tonight. They made us make plays in the passing game, and we didn't make as many as we wanted to. It just comes down to making more plays."

The first five turnovers hurt the Gators, but it was the sixth that delivered the final blow. After leading the team down the field with a chance to tie the game, Driskel hit Jordan Reed on a short route, where he broke a tackle and was heading to the end zone.

Reed left his feet and tried to jump from the five-yard line, but he was hit from behind by Jarvis Jones and lost the football. After jumping on the ball, Georgia ran out the clock to secure a win.

"I'll take Jordan Reed in the open field any day," Driskel said. "When I saw him make the first guy miss, I thought he was going to score. He didn't take care of the ball, just like the whole team all night."

Now comes the hard part for Florida. The Gators have to regroup after the loss and continue to play their best. Georgia has two more SEC games — against Ole Miss and Auburn. If they lose one and Florida beats Missouri, the Gators will go to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.

The locker room after the game wasn't a fun place for the team. They experienced the same feelings last year.

"This was just a bigger loss," Driskel said. "It was a huge loss. We knew what was at stake, and if we handled our business, our goals would be in front of us. We can't hang our heads for too long.

"We're going to have to keep pushing. There's a lot of football to be played."


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