Florida Gators starting quarterback Jeff Driskel sustained an ankle injury severe enough to not only keep him out of the team’s final, game-tying drive against Louisiana-Lafayette, but also entirely out of Saturday’s game against FCS-foe Jacksonville State. On Wednesday, coach Will Muschamp told reporters that his dual-threat signal caller is in fact healthy enough to start in Saturday’s rivalry match at Florida State.
“He looked fine,” Muschamp said. “We did everything we normally do. There was nothing limited within the package of what we did with him with the way we normally prepare for any game. So again, looked very good yesterday and unless something just unheard of happens in practice today or tomorrow, he ought to be ready to go Saturday.”
At 6-foot-4 and nearly 240 pounds, Driskel can withstand a beating. However, as big as he is, Driskel is an extremely mobile quarterback and is currently the Gators’ second leading rusher with 424 yards on the season.
[Related >> Photo of Driskel on crutches and in a walking boot]
If his ankle is not at 100-percent, obviously, quite of bit of what he does to be effective will be hampered.
Muschamp said that while Driskel was able to run through all of the drills as he normally would, his right ankle was heavily taped.
The return of Florida’s more mobile starter is very good news after his backup and fellow true sophomore, Jacoby Brissett, earned the starting nod a week ago. Brissett is advertised as an excellent pocket passer, but he cannot create much on the move. On the afternoon, he finished an efficient 14-of-22 for 154 yards and one score in the 23-0 win. Despite the fact that Brissett was not asked to do too much against the Gamecocks, his lack of in-game experience and his more plodding feet were evident.
Driskel’s return to full strength is good news as the Gators head to Tallahassee with their sights set on at least the Sugar Bowl with an outside shot at the BCS National Championship game.
Florida State also heads into the in-state rivalry with a mere one loss, and while its offense is as prolific as advertised, defensive ends Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine have held up their end of the bargain as well, combining for 20 sacks on the season.
Werner has been named to the Bronko Nagurski Watch List as one of the nation’s top defensive players.
The two of them understand what is at stake in one of the biggest meetings between these two storied programs in recent memory.
As does the Gators’ starting quarterback.
If Driskel can come up big after having sat for two weeks with a bum ankle, if he can overcome a rowdy road atmosphere and a defense that is out for blood, his efforts and those of his teammates will go down in UF history as a performance for the ages.
And the University of Florida football program will be headed to the Sugar Bowl, at the very least.
Quotes from Mike DiRocco were used in this report.
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