Quarterback position a concern behind Driskel

Despite an up and down season in 2012, Florida head coach Will Muschamp and the offensive staff at Florida feel much better about starting quarterback Jeff Driskel heading into fall camp. Year two in the same system should do a lot for the junior with all the tools to play at an elite level. Behind Driskel is a lot less certain and a work in progress.

Unlike last season, the starting quarterback position is set for 2013 at Florida. Junior Jeff Driskel helped lead the Gators to a 11-1 mark in the regular season and had many more positives than negatives in a system that requires a ton from the quarterback position.

Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease have been singing the praises of Driskel during the off-season.

"I am very pleased with Jeff Driskel," Muschamp told a crowd gathered in Lakeland a couple of weeks ago. "We wouldn't have won 11 games last year without him as the quarterback… I can guarantee you that. He is a young man that continued to grow and mature as the year went on. "In year two of the system, I think the game will slow down for him. He certainly has all the athletic capabilities. He is a great competitor and an outstanding leader."

To be fair to Driskel he was thrown to the wolves in 2011 after an injury to starting quarterback John Brantley. He was hurt right away in the game he subbed for Brantley against Alabama and that kind of hindered his progress as a freshman. Then, a new offensive philosophy and coordinator came in for 2012 and he was asked to be in charge. It was a lot to digest so early in a college career. Muschamp believes Driskel will be able top handle much more in his second year in the system.

"That is the natural progression," he said. "In year two you are able to give him more things. He is going to have more turns and reps in situations that offensively we are going to be able to do."

And even fairer to Driskel is the fact that the players around him were hardly consistent a year ago. A patchwork offensive line was anything but consistent and everyone else was learning a new system as well.

"We have to be able to play better around Jeff, it starts up front and we have to be able to make some plays around him," Muschamp said.

Driskel (6), Murphy (10), and Mornhinweg (17) all need to be prepared in August.

While the staff is excited and ready for Driskel to play in 2013, they are a bit timid about the guys behind him. It isn't that they can't physically handle the work, but they have zero experience in real game situations. They also aren't quite as physically gifted as the starter.

"We are concerned about the depth at quarterback," Muschamp said. "(Junior) Tyler Murphy is a guy that I feel can function in some things we do in some gun-run situations. He needs to be more efficient in throwing the ball.

"Red-shirt freshman) Skyler Mornhinweg is a young man we signed from Pennsylvania and is a guy that continues to mature and come along. He had some opportunities in the spring and took advantage of the opportunities. He did a nice job but has to have more command of the offense."

After that, the staff is looking at a true freshman who wasn't highly recruited, but Florida really likes what he brings to the table. "Max Staver is a guy from Nashville, Tennessee that we were really impressed with in camp," Muschamp said. "We really liked how he threw the football."

The staff will also continue to use Trey Burton in the ‘wildcat' role we are accustomed to seeing him in. Although they completely understand that Driskel is a real weapon as a read-option quarterback, and they plan on using him much more, they don't want to overdo it and risk injury.

"We will continue to develop a package with Trey Burton," Muschamp said of the senior. "That will still be a part of what we do to take some of the runs off of Jeff. We talked a lot as a staff to be very careful with Jeff as far as amount of carries we give him in terms of designed runs. That is something we need to be very sensitive to as we move through the season."

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