Monday, May 21, 2018
Colleges

Jeff Driskel finds ways for Florida Gators to win

GAINESVILLE — Jeff Driskel wasn't asked to do much Saturday. But whenever No. 3 Florida sniffed the end zone, he got them in.

"We won the game," coach Will Muschamp said when asked to evaluate Driskel's play. "That's Goal 1. That's what I look at."

Muschamp is happy as long as his quarterback gets him a win, and the sophomore keeps producing just enough to do that.

While Florida threw for fewer than 100 yards for the third consecutive game, Driskel converted on his opportunities. He matched his season total and set a career high with four touchdown passes in the 44-11 win over No. 9 South Carolina.

Florida entered second in the SEC at 233.3 rushing yards per game (and last in passing at 145 yards per game) but had just 66 through three quarters.

"They know that we want to run the ball in short-yardage situations," said Driskel, who was 11-of-16 for just 93 yards and thanks to three sacks rushed for minus-5 yards on nine carries. "They loaded the box. We got some good play calls, and we found some open receivers."

While the title of "game manager" often comes with a negative connotation as it implies limited ability, Driskel's teammates praised him for filling the role.

"He's doing an unbelievable job," running back Trey Burton said. "He's managing the game really well. That's why we're winning a lot of games."

Driskel was not given much ground to cover as turnovers and shaky kicks and kick coverage by the Gamecocks consistently gave the Gators a short field. The average starting field position for Florida was the South Carolina 49.

One possession started at the Gamecocks 1 and one at the 2 after fumbles. On first down of both, offensive coordinator Brent Pease called handoffs to Mike Gillislee. He was stuffed both times.

But Driskel capped the drives with touchdown passes to tight end Jordan Reed. The junior caught four passes for 44 yards, including a 34-yarder off a screen pass during the third quarter.

"He's definitely a mismatch," Driskel said of Reed. "They're going to put a safety on him or a linebacker on him. And I'll take him over any safety or linebacker in the country."

Whether it's keeping the ball on the ground, as he did last week at Vanderbilt when he rushed for 177 yards, or converting on short passes, Driskel, like Muschamp, said he doesn't care how he is used.

"It comes down to winning games," said Driskel, who also threw touchdowns of 13 yards to Quinton Dunbar and 6 yards to Frankie Hammond.

"And that's what we're doing."

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