Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

QB Jeff Driskel eager for his and UF's return

“Rest was what I needed to do,” Florida QB Jeff Driskel says. “I did that, and now I’m 100 percent. I’m good to go.”

Times

“Rest was what I needed to do,” Florida QB Jeff Driskel says. “I did that, and now I’m 100 percent. I’m good to go.”

HOOVER, Ala. — Jeff Driskel knows the critics are out there watching.

The Florida junior quarterback is well aware that the Gators' 4-8 record and his early season-ending knee injury have left many wondering whether this is a team on the rise with a brand new offense or one that's about to completely crumble.

And that's quite all right with Driskel. For him, it just comes with the territory, all part of being the quarterback at Florida.

"I typically don't let it get to me," he said during Florida's appearance at Monday's SEC media days. "I don't want to play well because others are down on me or anything like that. I want to play well because that's why I was recruited, that's why I'm at the University of Florida is to play football and play at a high level. So I don't let fans or anything like that get to me. It's internal. I want to be a good quarterback, and I plan to show everyone that that's what I am."

Driskel started three games in 2013 before fracturing his leg Sept. 21 against Tennessee. He passed for 477 yards (42-of-63) before the injury. The Gators won that game, but they earned just two more victories without Driskel, who spent the rest of the season watching helplessly.

"That is the hardest part, not being able to help," Driskel said. "When you're just sitting there on the couch watching away games, you kind of feel bad. You feel like you should be doing something, when you can't. And you feel like you're letting people down. But at the end of the day, that's football. Rest was what I needed to do to help the team out. I did that, and now I'm 100 percent. I'm good to go."

Enter new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. The Gators used the spring to implement a new spread offense, which not coincidentally is more suited to Driskel's skills and why he was recruited out of Hagerty High in Oviedo.

"I think what we're doing now offensively fits him better," said Florida coach Will Muschamp, who added he believes it's unfair to judge Driskel based on two games last season. "There's no question that's one of the reasons why I hired Kurt.

"His development of the quarterback at the position speaks for itself."

Driskel, who will graduate this summer with a degree in sports management, will attend graduate school in the fall. He spent part of his summer working at a local barbecue restaurant, where stunned fans offered encouragement, concern and sometimes humor, including Driskel's favorite line: "Can I get a brisket sandwich with a side of a national championship?"

While Driskel prepares to prove the naysayers wrong, he has already made believers again of his teammates since his return.

"Jeff had a great offseason and a great spring," defensive lineman and Lakewood High graduate Dante Fowler said. "Being able to see Jeff in the spring — being in his comfort zone in the shotgun — and just being able to play again. Once you get an injury and you sit out that long, you're just ready to play again, and you're hungry. I think that was a time for him to sit back and realize things that were going on, and it helped him get better as a player in my opinion. He looked better, this is the best I ever saw him.

"He's a student of the game, he's a very smart player. In my opinion, I think he's the best quarterback in the SEC."

The Gators can only hope Fowler's assessment is correct.

QB Jeff Driskel eager for his and UF's return 07/14/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 14, 2014 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium

    Bucs

    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem

    Bucs

    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  3. Matt Peca making case for Lightning spot

    Blogs

    Center Matt Peca said he didn't read too much into the fact he was the only Lightning player to appear in each of the first three exhibition games.

    But Peca, 24, loved it.

    Matt Peca won nine of 10 faceoffs Friday, a skill the Lightning badly needs.
  4. Bucs players respond to Trump comments on anthem protests

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump shared his thoughts Friday night on NFL players protesting during the national anthem, suggesting that NFL owners should "fire" players who kneel during the anthem in protest. His remarks are alreading drawing responses from many NFL players, including some Bucs.

    Bucs players Mike Evans and Jameis Winston stand with coach Dirk Koetter during the national anthem in a game played in San Diego last season.
  5. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018

    Blogs

    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    Catcher Wilson Ramos connects for a two-run single in the fifth inning against the Cubs on Sept. 20, 2017.