Driskel Maturing by the Week

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel used to be quiet in meeting rooms. He would watch film and learn the game plan before studying it in the week before a game. In recent weeks, Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease has seen the sophomore quarterback become more vocal and involved in creating the game plan. It's the next step in maturity that the Florida coaches wanted to see.

"His knowledge has gotten a lot better—his questions on the field and what he's seeing in film," Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "Like, 'Would this be a good plan?' (Driskel) in general is just understanding the scheme and understanding defenses and not just the fact that we're just running plays all the time. It's how to beat defenses."

The most important part of the maturation process was for Jeff Driskel to learn that it wasn't always on him to make the big play that changes the game. There were other capable players on the field that he could lean on in the big moments each Saturday.

Some of that was about trust. Unlike some players at Florida, Driskel played at a school where he was had to make a majority of the explosive plays for the offense to move the ball. He did it with ease at Hagerty High School. Heading into the fourth start of his career against No. 3 LSU on Saturday, Driskel is still learning to run the offense.

"I think one (way Driskel has improved) is his understanding of being a quarterback and what he has to do per play. It's not always on his shoulders. There are 10 guys around you that it's their job to execute also. When it is based on a throw and him making a play, he understands what he has to create and where he has to go."

The improvement has come each week for Driskel. His athleticism and ability to run the ball if a play breaks down adds an extra part to his game. He's still learning when to stand in the pocket and wait for receivers to get open, or when he should tuck the ball and run.

Those are all areas of his game that are improving by the week. But even if things didn't improve at all going forward, Pease still thinks the Gators could win with him under center and producing the way he is now.

"As long as he takes care of the ball, manages the game and executes at a high percentage throwing the ball, yeah," Pease said. "That's because there's other guys around him. This isn't about Jeff Driskel. This is about 11 guys out there executing a plan."

The goal is to continue improving, and that is no different with the Tigers this weekend. Driskel was sacked eight times against Texas A&M, and six were blamed on him holding onto the ball too long. He worked on it during the week of practice before heading to Tennessee, where he wasn't sacked once.

The mental clock of getting rid of the ball is still a work in progress. With two expected first round picks starting at defensive end for LSU, Driskel will have to be smart with getting the ball out of his hand this weekend.

"They've got speed on the edges and power in the middle," Pease said. "You can't just sit back there at seven yards and expect to pass the ball every play. You've got to kind of move him around. You sprint out. You got to roll him a little bit. You've got to change where he's going to be so they can't zero in.

"Their line charge has to change at times, or if they assume he's going to be in that same spot that we're kind of helping our O-linemen by how they're pass sitting on him."

OFFENSIVE LINE PRIMED FOR BREAKOUT: Muschamp was clear on Monday that the LSU game is an opportunity for the Florida offensive line to prove they're better than in 2011. Pease echoed that on Tuesday.

"I think they've been good every week," the offensive coordinator said. "I think they have improved from a big sack game to no sacks. They're always up for the challenge. That's how those guys are. They don't complain. They're company work guys. We don't have great, great depth. We got some good guys.

"Usually like to have 12 guys, but we got about nine guys we're rolling with and they do a lot of work in practice, especially as hot as it as around here as I've found it. They never complain."

Freshman D.J. Humphries could factor in more at left tackle against LSU. He saw increased time in the second half against Kentucky last weekend when senior Xavier Nixon went to the bench.

Throwing Humphries into the fire against LSU isn't ideal. Muschamp said on Monday that the player who plays the best in practice this week will start at left tackle, but there's no shying away from it. A freshman against two first-round defensive ends of LSU isn't the ideal scenario.

Humphries' maturity has impressed players and coaches since he made it to campus in January.

"He's had so much good work of going against our guys like that," Pease said. "Going against Lerentee (McCray), going against Sharrif (Floyd), going against our guys, you get a lot of good work also in practice. He's handled the challenge and gotten beat. You've got to make so many mistakes before you become really, really good at some things.

"He's working through all that and he's done a good job. Last week, the last game against Kentucky, when he got put in there from second half on, the kid played pretty well."

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