Muschamp backs Driskel, wants improvement

The final line for Jeff Driskel on Saturday forced immediate questions about backup quarterback Treon Harris.

Florida coach Will Muschamp admitted to considering giving Treon Harris some time on the field, but he ultimately chose not to because the staff still believes Jeff Driskel gives them the best chance to win. At his Wednesday press conference with days to think about it, Muschamp didn’t change his stance.

The Gators got back on the practice field Tuesday to start the process of moving on from a 42-21 loss at Alabama, but questions around the quarterback position continued. After Driskel went 9-28 for 93 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, the Florida coach wants his starting quarterback to improve.

"Jeff needs to play better and I think he'd be the first person to tell you that,” Muschamp said. “I thought he forced 4-5 balls where in some situations you check the ball down or you take the ball somewhere else.”

Soon after the talk of the bad throws, Muschamp also pointed out four dropped passes by Florida receivers. Quinton Dunbar dropped a pass on third down that would’ve given the Gators a first down, and Muschamp also said he thought Demarcus Robinson should have caught the deep ball on Florida’s first play of the second drive.

Muschamp also defended Driskel on three other throws, saying that receivers didn’t run routes at the correct distance.

“Jeff throws the ball and it looks like it’s an errant throw, it’s really on the receiver in three other situations,” Muschamp said.

Even with some of those mistakes from the receivers, there’s no doubt that Driskel has to improve throwing the football. Florida fans grew frustrated during the game watching the errant throws, and even former Florida players chimed in pushing for a change at quarterback.

The most famous of that group is former Florida running back and Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, who tweeted that the coaches should “put Driskel on the bench please, I’ve seen enough.” The tweet has since been deleted, and Smith called Muschamp, Driskel and the football team to apologize earlier this week.

“He was frustrated,” Muschamp said of Smith. “He wants us to win. He wants us to be successful. He’s a great Gator. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. I appreciate Emmitt calling and saying the things he said, I really do. He’s a class individual, and he’s about all the right things.”

With Driskel’s struggles, the push for backup quarterback Treon Harris to get more time at quarterback has started. Muschamp said before the season that they wanted to get Harris into most games this season to get him reps, avoiding the potential of a situation like last year where the Gators don’t have a backup prepared to play.

Harris only played in the season opener against Eastern Michigan. The close game against Kentucky ruled out the chances of him getting on the field, and Muschamp thought about going to him in Tuscaloosa, but he still felt like Driskel was the right choice.

The freshman had a good day of practice on Tuesday and could see some reps next weekend in Knoxville.

“(Treon) continues to improve and continues to do some nice things,” Muschamp said. “Game-by-game, (we’ll) give him some opportunities. We’d like to have him have some snaps, depending on the situation in the game. But he had a good day (Tuesday), I’m very pleased with some things he did. But Jeff gives us the best opportunity to win right now.

“(Harris) continues to improve. He works his butt off every day. He’s doing a really nice job. I have all the confidence in the world in Treon when he has his opportunity he’ll play well.”

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