Driskel: Handle us, and we'll be fine

Five huge turnovers and other mistakes in the red zone loom large from last week's 21-16 loss at Miami. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel is nursing a knee injury, but will be fine for Saturday's SEC opening match against Tennessee and says the Gators need to eliminate their own mistakes and they have enough to get it done this week. He says they spent the bye week working on fixing the mistakes.

First thing is first for Jeff Driskel, he has to make sure he is healthy for a long season and so the bye week came at a god time for him. Driskel hurt his left knee in the second quarter of the Miami contest, but played through the pain.

"It's feeling good after a week off," he told the Florida media on Monday. "Good timing. It's feeling a lot better now. It got high-lowed, got stuck in the ground a little bit. It could have been a lot worse, so that's the good news. It's feeling a lot better now and I'll be ready to go.

Driskel said that the energy from playing the game itself was what kept the injury from being an issue during the action. His play was not affected by it.

"I don't think so," he said. "(I had) a lot of adrenalin going during the game. I felt it, but not as much as I did after the game. I don't think it affected me at all."

The bye week also came at a good time so Florida could look inward and try and fix the mistakes that were made when they coughed up the ball five times and gave up ten penalties.

"No one's been able to stop us when we haven't had a turnover or a penalty," he said. "(We just need to) worry about us first and then taking care of the other team second. If we can handle us, we'll be fine. That's what we worked on this week. On an off week you do work on yourself before you get into your opponent, so it timed out well for us."

Driskel said there is an emphasis on red zone scoring and maybe the Gators and he have been pressing too much once they start to approach the goal line. He listed off a few things they are working on.

"First of all, don't try to do too much as a quarterback," he said. "When I was on my reads right, I've been accurate this whole year. I tried to do too much there.

"Just go with what you're coached and don't try to do too much and hold onto the ball when you're running. Miami did a good job of getting hats on the ball. We know that teams are going to be going for the ball this year. We've really got to work on ball security and really lock in, especially in the red zone."

Driskel said that despite his performance in Miami in which he actually threw for a career best 291 yards, he is ready to make amends.

"My coaches and my teammates have full confidence in me," he said. That's all that really matters."

With the bye week it allows for some physical healing but also some time to watch college football. Driskel and some of his teammates got an eyeful watching Oregon dismantle the Volunteer team that will be coming to town on Saturday and lost 59-14.

"The bye week is fortunate," he said. "You get to watch a lot more. I've seen a good amount. I watched the Oregon game."

The Ducks rang up 456 passing yards on Tennessee and Driskel was asked if this Florida squad could duplicate the onslaught that Oregon brought to the Volunteers.

"I think we have the players where we can hit some big plays," Driskel said. "We just have to make them when they're there. Oregon really took advantage of the looks when they were there and you can put up some big points when you take advantage of your opportunities."

Driskel harkened back to taking care of the ball and not hurting themselves as to how they can run up some points on anyone.

"I think when we eliminate turnovers our offense has been doing really well this year," he said. "Like we've said all along, when we handle us we'll be fine. That's what we're going to try and do."

Against the Vols a year ago, Driskel was 14-20 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 81 yards on eight carries. It was maybe his best performance as a Gator to date. According to the junior quarterback, it was much of the same game plan as usual, they just executed well that day. It had nothing to do with trying to be more wide open that usual in that game.

"It's always open," he said of the playbook. "Each week we have new plays for certain situations. The situations don't always come up and you don't get to call them. But I think the playbook is always open. We just ran into opportunities when we had a chance to run some different plays. We had like a 70-yard touchdown to Frankie Hammonds, which was a hitch. We have that every week."

One thing the game did for the young sophomore a year ago was give him the confidence maybe he was lacking up to that point. On the big stage in front of 100,000 rival fans, he performed at his best.

"It was the first time I really took over a game," he said. "You know, played well, we played well as a team. We didn't turn the ball over at all, and, you know, we played well against a good team, and we're going to have to do that again this Saturday."

There isn't a whole lot he can take away from that game schematically. A new coaching staff and some new players will call for a new game plan heading into Saturday.

"They tried to throw a lot at us," he said. "But it's a new coach this year; they're going to have a new scheme. We've looked at it, and it's totally different. But you never really know when new coaches come in, if they keep some of the old stuff and bring some new stuff. But we see different things from teams week in and week out, so we really got to be prepared for everything."

The Gators have won eight straight over the Volunteers, but this is one of the storied programs in the Southeastern Conference and Driskel and this team in no way take this team lightly.

"It goes way back. Two storied programs. Since I've been here, for a while, we've dominated the series, but I know they're gunning for us. They always do. And they always put up a good fight against us.

"We're going in there preparing like any other game. We know they're going to throw everything at us and it will make their season if they beat us. We know we have to really prepare well this week and we really have to play hard.

Driskel says the Florida offense has noticed an improved Tennessee defense, despite the outcome of the Oregon contest.

"I think they get lined up a lot better this year," he said. "Last year, they kind of had some busts in their alignments. I think they know what they're doing a lot better."

Talking Personnel

By the end of the Miami game, a case could be argued that only starting center Jonotthan Harrison was the remaining starting offensive linemen in the position they were supposed to be when Fall camp started.

Starting right tackle Chaz Green has missed all season and will miss the rest with a labrum injury. Tyler Moore who was replacing Green in the starting lineup went out in the third quarter with an injury and didn't return. Starting right guard Jon Halapio missed both of the first two games due to recovering from a labrum injury. Starting left tackle D.J. Humphries missed the entire second half of the Miami game with an MCL sprain that forced him to also miss half the opener. Starting left guard Max Garcia was moved to the left tackle spot to play for Humphries. It was certainly a M*A*S*H unit up front for the Gators, but they are expecting some better news this week. Halapio returns at right guard.

Humphries has already practiced and should be fine. That means they are only waiting on Moore at right tackle for now and he may make it back for practice on Monday. If not, junior college transfer Trenton Brown played well in Moore's place in Miami.

Regardless, the Florida offensive line Is being tested in terms of depth and quality of depth. Driskel says they will be fine.

"Yeah, anytime you lose somebody, it hurts," he said. "They did a lot of good work in the offseason working together, but we have a lot of depth. We've said that since the beginning of the year. And they've all gotten reps with the first team. So I don't think it's really hurt too much. Our depth is not as deep as it was in the beginning of the season, but, that's the game we play."

The Gators are still looking for an answer on offense in terms of a big play maker. They had 11 explosive plays on offense against Miami which is a really good number. They have found a pair of receivers in Quinton Dunbar and Solomon Patton that can go make the great catch. What they seem to be missing is the guy that can make the catch and get to the end zone by making a play after the catch.

One of the young players they are counting on to be that guys is freshman receiver Demarcus Robinson. Robinson has had a few balls thrown his way, but they certainly want to see him get untracked.

"It's tough as a freshman to come in and really play well in the beginning of the year," Driskel said of Robinson. "He's still learning. He's still working. He's not getting discouraged, which is a good sign. He's coming out and working hard every day, which is what you want to see from a young guy. I do expect him to be a good player for us. I just don't really know when."

The tight end position is another concern. Starter Clay Burton is a junior that moved over from defense last season. His backup is junior Tevin Westbrook who followed the same profile as a transfer from defense a little over a year ago. The position has yet to make any noise this season after being the primary target when NFL 3rd round draft pick Jordan Reed manned the spot.

Driskel says one thing we have to consider is that Burton is lining up in a different role at tight end than Reed did.

"Two different players… Jordan Reed was a guy who played in space more," Driskel said. "He split out. Not as much of a blocker as Clay. Clay's been doing a nice job all year of blocking. That's what he's been asked to do. Hasn't made any catches yet, but I'm not really worried about him. He'll be fine. He just needs to continue to play hard and do what the team asks him to do."

The Gators recruited the top two tight ends in America in 2012. Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson were the number one and two ranked high school tight ends respectively by Scout.com. They have different reasons for their lack of early success, but neither has done anything so far this season. That is something that has the attention of the fans.

"I'm not sure about the personnel," Driskel said. "That's not me. I know they're out there working hard, and they are doing what the coaches are asking them to do."

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