The Tennessee Volunteers have dropped seven straight against the Florida Gators. In fact, they have only won four of the past 19 meetings between the two SEC East rivals.
Still, many believe the Volunteers will be in the driver's seat when the two teams meet again on Saturday in Knoxville. Tyler Bray has been solid under center for the Volunteers, albeit against two less-than-stellar teams. People are starting to believe in Derek Dooley and his philosophy.
There's also the fact that the game will be played at Neyland Stadium, one of the toughest environments for any visiting opponent.Quite frankly, the conditions seem conducive to a Volunteer victory and the end of the losing streak.
This is why Jeff Driskel is facing his biggest challenge to date as a college quarterback.
Even though the Gators mounted a solid comeback to beat Texas A&M this past Saturday, their offense looked very inefficient at times. Even before Mike Gillislee was injured during the course of the game, they struggled to move the ball downfield.
Driskel looked exactly like a sophomore quarterback who has not fully expelled the nerves associated with taking control of the offense. Although he did not turn the ball over, Driskel looked very indecisive and was repeatedly sacked as a result. For this reason, his high completion percentage was somewhat deceiving. To put it in simpler terms, he experienced the growing pains of a young quarterback but was able to steal a victory.
He will have to grow up fast for the Gators to have a legitimate shot of defeating the Volunteers.
The potential is definitely there. After all, this is a former high school All-American we're talking about. There is no doubting his athleticism and ability to escape the pocket. What he has yet to show, however, is the "killer instinct" that all great quarterbacks have.
He needs to develop the confident swagger that will allow his teammates to believe that he's in control. He doesn't have to be as outgoing as Tim Tebow, who was often found screaming at his teammates to pump them up. Driskel just needs to shake off the nerves, trust his arm and put up solid numbers. If he does this, the Gator defense will take care of the rest more often than not.
Contrary to what their record over the past two seasons might suggest, the Gators have had the talent on both sides of the ball to be a strong contender in the SEC. What they haven't had is a field general to lead them into battle. Jeff Driskel can take a major step towards changing this on Saturday. It is imperative that he do so, or Gator fans will have a long night listening to the distant chants of "Rocky Top."
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