As the beginning of the 2012 season lingered in late August for the Florida Gators, quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett were in a full out battle for the starting quarterback job in Gainesville.
When the season opener rolled around last Saturday, head coach Will Muschamp still hadn't decided on the team's starting quarterback. Driskel and Brissett shared playing time in the 27-13 win against Bowling Green last week, but Driskel played the majority of the game.
Driskel finished the game with a respectable 114 yards and one touchdown on just 16 attempts. The sophomore also added 24 rushing yards on three attempts. That performance was good enough for Driskel to officially win the starting job moving forward, as Muschamp announced it during the past week.
After being selected as Florida's starting quarterback, Driskel had to shift his focus to preparing for the daunting task of facing SEC newcomer Texas A&M on the road on Saturday.
The game was Driskel's most important start of his career, and he did not disappoint.
Struggling early on with holding onto the ball too long, it appeared as if Driskel and the Gators offense would have a long day against a stout Texas A&M pass rush. But Driskel eventually settled in, and his decision making greatly improved as the game progressed.
Like last week, Driskel had just 16 attempts. However, he completed 13 of those attempts for 162 yards. Those kind of passing stats aren't overly impressive, but for Driskel to complete 13 of 16 pass attempts deserves recognition.
Driskel has the physical tools to be a quarterback who can spread the field out and throw passes of any distance. It's just a matter of time before Driskel can develop into that type of quarterback. Part of his development will be the improvement that the offensive line must undergo as the 2012 season continues.
On almost every pass attempt, Driskel had to move either out of the pocket or rush his throw, mainly because the offensive line was dominated by the A&M pass rush all day long. But Driskel's a very underrated runner, and he may remind some of former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow when he runs with the ball.
At 6'4", 237 pounds, Driskel is a fast quarterback who isn't afraid of contact, and it helps the Gators offense that he can take off and run on either designed plays or broken-down plays. The best run of the day for Driskel came in the fourth quarter, as he perfectly executed a designed running play for a 21-yard gain.
That run sealed the 20-17 win for the Gators, and showed how special Driskel could be. With more playing time will come more success for the young quarterback. This past week was the first week that he was undoubtedly the starting quarterback for the Gators, which means it was likely the most snaps he's ever taken in a game week.
With the ability to run and complete passes across the field, Driskel has the potential to keep Florida in the picture in the SEC East for the whole season. As long as he progresses as much as he should in the coming weeks, this Gators offense won't be the low-scoring offense that it's expected to be this season.