In the lead-up to kickoff against Idaho, I’ll be taking my next few pieces to introduce, highlight, and analyze the groups of players that hold the key between Florida’s return to SEC prominence, or conversely, the banishing to the SEC cellar for 2014. First up: the big uglies.
Every year since Will Muschamp arrived in 2010 this unit has been introduced with great promise to start the season. And every year it has left fans frustrated and disappointed by season’s end.
Driskel is, by the numbers, my own opinion, and his record, a good (though certainly not great) quarterback. Hell, throw my childhood hero Joe Montana under center with little-to-no cover, and mishaps are bound to happen. The Jacksonville Jaguars learned that lesson with the Blaine Gabbert experiment. Through three games last season, Driskel threw 3 interceptions, including two in the ill-fated trip down to Coral Gables against the Hurricanes.
Overall, the offensive line unit allowed an eye-popping 27 sacks last season. There is no way the Gators will improve without drastically reducing that number, and allowing Driskel the time and space necessary to put the ball where it needs to go.
D.J. Humphries and Chaz Green both return from injuries and should factor in to a productive performance on Saturdays for the Orange and Blue. This will move big Trenton Brown (he is 6-8 and 365 lbs, folks – just let that simmer for a second) from right tackle, where he played due to the Tyler Moore injury, back to guard and Moore back to his natural position. The Gators will break in Max Garcia at center, but after 11 botched snaps last season (including a critical miscue at South Carolina), this to me should be an upgrade.
The most important factor for this unit will be keeping healthy (doesn’t this seem to be a recurring theme?) and staying on the field this season. Driskel will thrive in the new offense, folks. He really will. But he needs the time and the trust in his line to make good decisions. The key to all of those decisions lies up front on the offensive line.