Driskel hoping to restore confidence

Last season couldn't have gone worse for Jeff Driskel. The Florida quarterback had three key turnovers in a loss at Miami during the second week of the season, and during Florida's next game against Tennessee, Driskel broke his leg and was lost for the season. He's aiming to restore the Florida fanbase's faith in him, starting with Saturday's spring game.

The spring game doesn't predict much for most players. There's a long list of players across the country that have big statistics during a spring game and fall down the depth chart in the fall.

It likely doesn't mean much for Driskel in terms of predictive value for the type of season he'll have in the fall, but the redshirt junior quarterback wants Saturday to be a big day for him. It'll mark the first time he's back on the playing surface of The Swamp in front of Florida fans, but even more than that, he knows that there is room for him to rebuild and start rebuilding the confidence of the Florida fanbase.

"I want to show them that I'm confident, that I didn't let the Miami game or the injury kind of take away from my confidence," Jeff Driskel said. "I want to show everyone that I'm having fun out there playing the game."

In Driskel's mind, a bad game against Miami and the season-ending injury clouded the progress he made going into the 2013 season. It didn't show during the first nine quarters of last season when he was healthy, but that doesn't mean Driskel believes it's gone. He feels comfortable and confident on the practice field and believes last year's injury kept him from showcasing that.

"I thought I was going to have a really good year," Driskel said. "I was throwing the ball well. Had a couple mistakes, costly mistakes, especially in that Miami game. But I felt like I was throwing the ball well. To have it all taken away was tough. I caught a lot of criticism, which was deserved. But I do think that over the course of the year, I would have been able to redeem myself."

This season will give Driskel an opportunity for that to happen.

If his knowledge of the new offense is any indication, he feels like this could be a big season for the Gators. Under first-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, the Florida offense will use an up-tempo approach, spreading out the playmakers on the offense and allowing them to make plays.

It's different than what the Gators have used in recent years. If Florida goes to the line of scrimmage set in a run play, they can also have the receivers running formations downfield. If Driskel doesn't like the run play against the defensive set on the other side of the line, he can make the mental note and without calling an audible, the redshirt junior can take the snaps and throw to a receiver running a shorter route close to the line of scrimmage.

He has freedom, including the chance to use his legs and scramble for yardage, to make plays. That wasn't always the case in recent years.

"I feel like it fits not just me, but all of our players," Driskel said. "We have a lot of guys who can just make plays in space and this offense creates space. We've made some big plays against our defense, which is exciting. When you turn on the film, you see a bunch of guys making big plays from last year at Duke. It just gets guys really excited for the offense, and I think we've done a good job with what we've had in 12 practices."

The emphasis from Roper to the quarterbacks is to get the ball out in a hurry. They'll stay near the line of scrimmage with most passes before taking a deep shot to keep the defense honest. Driskel is getting more comfortable in the shotgun, where a majority of the snaps will be taken in the new offense.

"In the past we've done a lot of shotgun work out of drop back passes, but now everything's out of the gun so it's not really a giveaway when we're doing a drop back pass," Driskel said. "I feel like I see the field really well in the gun as well."

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