Is it only Monday, Gator Nation?
Will Muschamp, as a first-year head coach in 2011, presided over a Florida football team that finished with the program’s most losses since the 1987 season. Six defeats in total. Ouch.
Oh me oh my, how times have changed. Halfway through Muschamp’s second season at the helm, his Gators already have six of something, but it’s not losses.
As you play hookie from an early morning meeting, maybe with a muffin in hand, understand that Muschamp’s success has directly correlated to the stellar and ever-evolving and improving play of his first-year starting quarterback, Jeff Driskel.
Whether you spent your weekend drinking in celebration of a Florida Gators football team that is now enjoying its perch as the No. 2-team in the entire country, or enjoying a subdued Gators game with family and friends, undoubtedly you enjoyed the exploits of a true sophomore that has already broken a record set by (dare I say it?? I do indeed) the legendary Tim Tebow.
You may be drinking your coffee, or slugging your 5-Hour Energy. You may be catching up with a few coworkers, or you may be simply trying to get yourself back into the swing of things. You may even be counting down the seconds until next weekend's huge game against South Carolina already (as we here at Gamedayr are!). No matter what you are getting yourself into today, take a minute to celebrate your quarterback.
Raise your glasses, or mugs, and toast this Monday’s Man of the Hour, the dude who is always hustlin’, Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel.
The season started slow for this hustler
Not only did the Gators barely crack the preseason top 25 – No. 23-overall – but there was a good majority of the nation that thought Florida was not worthy of being ranked at all.
Following the team’s shaky 27-14 home win over Bowling Green, in which Jacoby Brissett split time with Jeff Driskel and both struggled moving the ball, Gator Nation was ready to hold a massive séance to get the ghost of Tim Tebow back into the Orange and Blue.
As it turns out, after Muschamp named Driskel the team’s full-time starter, it wasn’t any ghosts that the team and fans were looking for.
Nor was it any past Florida greats.
Instead, it was just a little bit of hustle, with perhaps just a tad of flow.
Soon enough, it was time to ball out
After taking down Texas A&M to start the season 2-0, the team’s first of its many “measuring stick” games was a Week 3 matchup with hated arch-rivals Tennessee.
The Volunteers were to be trotting out Tyler Bray, a junior gunslinger who piled up both yardage and touchdowns with the best of them. On the flip side, everyone knew the Gators had a strong defense and running game, but its quarterback, despite winning his first career start, was practically still a total unknown.
Little did coach Derek Dooley and the rest of his bizarre bunch of orange and white wonders know, Driskel was hustlin’ them, as well as the rest of the nation.
After heading into the locker room with a deficit yet again, Driskel went off in the game’s second half, not only leading the Gators to a 37-20 victory and the team’s eighth-straight win over those Knoxvillians, but he took home his very first weekly award: SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
That’s what happens when you ball out for 300 total yards. Or as we here at Gamedayr have dubbed it, Driskelin’.
The truest ballers are the ones with patience
The secret of the potentially next great Florida Gators quarterback may have been out after three weeks of gameplay, but that doesn’t mean teams could stop our boy.
Not only did Driskel help lead yet another blowout of Kentucky, but he finished 8-for-12 in a grind-it-out, old-school beat down of then No. 4 LSU.
That game may have signaled the arrival of the Gators this season.
Avenging last season’s 41-11 bloodbath at the hands of the Tigers may have put Gators running back Mike Gillislee in the national spotlight. He did rush for a career-high 146 yards, after all.
The game, for Driskel, however, showed that he can take a backseat and still help his teammates shine.
He can still sit back, bide his time, and wait for his numbers to come to him.
Against Vanderbilt on Saturday, that is exactly what happened.
Celebrate your national prominence, Gator Nation!
Lulled into a false sense of security, believing Gilly would once again be green lighted to roam free through the Commodore’s defensive backfield, Vanderbilt allowed several massive rushing lanes to open up after the team realized the ball was not, in fact, going Gilly’s way.
No one will make that mistake again.
Not after Driskel hustled his way to 177 rushing yards on a mere 11 carries, tallying three touchdowns on his way to breaking the Gators’ single-game rushing mark by a quarterback.
Tebow only managed a career-high of 166 against Mississippi in 2007. What a slouch.
Just playing, of course.
So was Driskel on Saturday, and now it will be up to him to keep the hustle flowing through the season’s second half. South Carolina, Georgia and Florida State all remain as potential pratfalls to a season that has been nothing short of spectacular for Gator Nation thus far.
The Gators coaches and players always claim to be taking things one game and one week at a time.
That said, take a drink of coffee not only in celebration of Driskel’s hustle thus far, but the potential flow he will be bringing to the gridiron the rest of the way through.