Gators set to start Driskel at quarterback

This week was supposed to include an open quarterback battle in practice, but the sexual assault allegations against Treon Harris changed that. Florida will now start Jeff Driskel at quarterback against LSU this Saturday.

Driskel was removed from last Saturday’s game at Tennessee with Florida trailing 9-0 late in the third quarter. The offense struggled to move the ball up to that point, and Muschamp said he felt there was a need to make a change to give the offense a spark. Harris took over the offense and led the Gators to 10 points, sneaking out a 10-9 road win from Neyland Stadium.

With Harris currently suspended from all team activities, the coaches have tried to rebuild Driskel’s confidence. They’ve dug into the film from some of his best games at Florida, trying to remind him of all the positive things that have happened in his career. Muschamp hasn’t found it difficult to keep Driskel's confidence high. The Florida coach has complimented his quarterback’s toughness since the offseason and still thinks he can bounce back from the recent struggles.

“Jeff’s a tough young man," Will Muschamp said. "He’s resilient. He understands there’s some situation where he needs to play better. He takes full responsibility to be the quarterback at the University of Florida. The way he has handled this has been outstanding.”

Even if Treon Harris did start against LSU, Muschamp said the plan was always for Driskel to get some time on the field with the offense.

The coaches showed the offensive players film of all the other position breakdowns around the quarterback spot in recent weeks. The reason wasn’t to stand up for Driskel, but Muschamp wanted the other players to understand where they needed to pick up their production.

Florida receivers have 15 drops this season. They had multiple breakdowns in pass protection at Tennessee.

“That's not all Jeff Driskel's fault," Muschamp said. "We took about 15 plays from the game and illustrated to our players, and not to defend Jeff, but to defend the quarterback position. People around them need to execute better and take ownership in what they need to do better. You've got 15 drops at the receiver position in four games. That's a bunch. Take ownership in your play and how you play and how you perform instead of point a finger at somebody else, which is the easiest thing to do and what we do in our society in most situations."

The backup quarterback picture isn’t as clear. The coaches have to decide this week in practice whether Will Grier or Skyler Mornhinweg will be the backup quarterback against LSU. Grier was cleared on Sunday to practice after back spasms kept him from traveling to Alabama. He traveled to Knoxville but was in sweats on the sideline.

Before the Harris suspension, Muschamp said Grier likely would have been headed for a redshirt this season. Grier’s return to practice has shown he’s ready to compete for playing time, and that could come as soon as Saturday against the Tigers.

“I didn’t see a whole lot of rust from him,” Muschamp said. “He has been involved in all the meetings and all those things.”

Mornhinweg has issues of his own after being involved in a fight outside the stadium on Monday night with freshman defensive lineman Gerald Willis. University of Florida police were called to the scene after the fight was started when Mornhinweg approached Willis after a staff member found the quarterback’s cleats in Willis’ locker. Mornhinweg was taken to the emergency room to get stitches for a cut on his lip, but he is healthy and will be involved in the backup quarterback battle this week in practice.

Muschamp downplayed the incident and said it was a simple miscommunication between teammates.

“We had a disagreement and I wish it would have been handled a little bit differently," Muschamp said.

TAILGATER Wooden Ice Chest Giveaway


Fightin Gators Top Stories