When coach Will Muschamp’s Florida Gators were preparing to kick off their 2012 college football season, quarterback Jeff Driskel was preparing to do so with a clipboard in his hands.
For one quarter, at least.
Muschamp was still undecided on who the Gators’ starting quarterback was going to be in his team’s Week 1 contest hosting Bowling Green. Thus, he decided to go with an unconventional method and give both Driskel and fellow true sophomore Jacoby Brissett each one quarter of the first half and then decide on who would play the rest of the way in the locker room at halftime.
Driskel, because of the mobility he brings to the position, was given the nod in the second half, and after he hit Frankie Hammond Jr. for a 52-yard touchdown strike, he was handed the reigns of the team full-time.
While all of that was playing out, neither Muschamp nor offensive coordinator Brent Pease ever lost faith in their backup, and Brissett never lost faith in himself.
On Saturday’s far tighter than expected Homecoming win over Louisiana-Lafayette, the coaches’ faith and Brissett’s in himself was put to the test for really the first time in his career after Driskel went down with an ankle sprain.
Brissett, the No. 3-nationally rated quarterback coming out of high school, responded to the adversity in the most clutch of situations, finishing with six completed passes on eight attempts for 64 yards. He threw a touchdown pass with barely over a minute remaining in the contest to finally knot the game up at 20-apiece.
His actions under center helped preserve the Gators’ hopes of earning an at-large bid to play in a BCS bowl.
Now, with a contest against FCS foe Jacksonville State approaching on Saturday and Driskel’s ankle not responding to treatment, Brissett is finally going to get an opportunity to show off his abilities as a starter for a top 10 team for a full sixty minutes.
Muschamp, for one, is not at all worried. The Gamecocks, not from South Carolina, boast the 100th-ranked defense in the FCS, so in terms of what talent level, Brissett is head, shoulders, arms, chest and waist above Jacksonville State’s program.
That is not what concerns Muschamp. After last week’s scare against another seemingly sub-par squad, everyone in the Gators’ locker room understands the fact that numbers on paper mean one thing, but the games still have to be played on Saturdays.
It is the game that Muschamp is excited for. It is Saturday’s gridiron battle with a new quarterback under center that Muschamp sees as an opportunity for growth for both he and Brissett.
“Got a lot of confidence in Jacoby,” Muschamp said. “It’s his opportunity and I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”
As is the rest of Gator Nation.
Quotes from ESPN were used in this report.
Latest from Swampland >> Check out this photo of Driskel sporting a walking boot and on crutches