Florida began the season with a quarterback controversy, and Jeff Driskel was able to win the job with his athletic ability. But even with nearly an entire season under his belt, the sophomore hasn't quite shown that he is ready to lead this program back to the promised land.
This weekend's game against Florida State that takes place at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC will be his chance to take that next step as an elite quarterback.
According to Paul Myerberg of USA Today, Driskel will start this Saturday after missing last week's game due to injury.
Muschamp says that Jeff Driskel will start on Saturday vs. FSU.— Paul Myerberg (@PaulMyerberg) November 21, 2012
Driskel has shown the ability to be a terrific dual-threat quarterback. He moves around the pocket well, can really hurt a defense with his legs and makes defenders miss with ease in the open field. However, that passing game isn't exactly good enough to believe that this offense has what it takes to win a national championship.
How many passing yards will Driskel have against FSU?
You may say that he hasn't had enough opportunities to show what he can do in the passing game due to a lack of throwing the football. And you would be right, considering that his 193 pass attempts is ranked 12th in the SEC. But with the dominant running game of Florida, teams are stacking the box and simply daring this Gators offense to hurt them in the air. The opportunities are there to make plays due to facing single-coverage most of the time.
It just has yet to be done.
Florida State has the best defense in the country and a pass defense that is only allowing 165 yards a game. This Seminoles defense doesn't give up much and has not allowed a single team to complete 60 percent of its passes this year. But this is the chance for Driskel to prove himself more than ever.
According to Matt Watts of the Miami Herald, Driskel knows he has to play better for this offense to produce at a higher level.
"We do have to start better, and we have to play better through the whole game," Driskel said. "I mean, it’s not just at the start of the game. The offense has to be more productive and work on it. … [The hurry-up] is something that we’ve worked on a lot. We feel really comfortable with it. But you’ve got to get going before you kind of get into that.
"It’s hard to go into that without kind of getting into a groove."
Building momentum has been an issue all year for this unit, and that will be a tough thing to fix against one of the better defenses this team will face all season. However, the sophomore can show signs of taking that next step and possibly clear the 200-passing-yard mark for the first time since the fourth game of the year.
The quarterback position for Florida is loaded with young talent, and Driskel has emerged as the guy who will likely become the future of this program. It is now time for him to prove he can gain elite status to help this offense fix its struggles and for the Gators to get back into that national championship picture.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.