Florida vs. Tennessee: Jeff Driskel Proves He Can Lead Gators to SEC East Title

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 15, 2012

Stand up and take a bow, Jeff Driskel.

Florida's sophomore starting quarterback battled with Jacoby Brissett all the way into the season opener vs. Bowling Green, despite being limited in fall camp with an injured shoulder. 

He was supposed to split time with Brissett in the opener, but it was clear from the opening snap that the job was his.

You saw why on Saturday night against Tennessee, in the Gators' 37-20 win over the Vols.

Driskel completed 14-of-20 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, and also ran the ball eight times for 81 yards. 

Any team in the country would take that kind of day.

It wasn't just his stats that were impressive; it was his decision making, which was questionable last week vs. Texas A&M. He checked down when it was the right thing to do and kept his eyes downfield when pressure got to him before taking off.

And let's not forget some of the throws he made. 

The 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Reed at the pylon at the end of the third quarter was an NFL-caliber throw, and his 17-yard pass on the run to Solomon Patton late in the first half was spectacular.

It was this kind of game that Florida fans expected when the former 5-star recruit signed on the dotted line in the Class of 2011.

Everyone will focus on Florida's running game, Tennessee's second-half collapse and Florida's second-half defense.

Those were already known commodities.

The one missing piece of the Gator puzzle was whether or not Driskel could be a difference maker.

He proved that he could on the road in a hostile environment in the biggest SEC game of the young season. That's what veteran quarterbacks do, not untested sophomores that have been average at best during their careers.

In the process, Driskel's team has won back-to-back road games within the SEC—both in extremely malicious surroundings. That's a pretty strong statement for any team, much less one that has been searching for an identity ever since Urban Meyer retired—for the first time.

Are the Gators "back"?

You bet they are. Back in contention for the SEC East title.