Like most first-year starting quarterbacks, Jeff Driskel had his fair share of struggles at the helm of Florida's offense. Furthermore, he was at his worst in the Gators' two biggest games of the 2012 season.
The first of these was Florida's showdown with Georgia. With the SEC East lead on the line, Driskel never found a rhythm in the pocket. The Bulldogs forced him into throwing a key interception in the red zone before the end of the first half. This was one of two picks on that day for Driskel, but this one was particularly meaningful because it cost Florida a lead change that would have shifted momentum. In the end, the Gators lost the game and a shot to play for a spot in the national title game.
Their consolation prize was the Sugar Bowl. Once again, Driskel looked very uncomfortable throughout. His first play from scrimmage was an errant pass returned for a Louisville touchdown. He would later throw another interception in the red zone and fumble within his own territory. The final score may have been 33-23, but anyone who watched the game knows it was not as competitive as that score implies.
Next season, the Gators will have to rely more on Driskel to move the football. After a season in which he only threw for 1,646 yards, however, Florida fans might be ready to doubt his leadership abilities and skill set.
However, I am here to tell you that it isn't quite time to panic in Gainesville. In fact, Driskel should improve dramatically from last season.
When the Gators take the field next August against Toledo, Driskel will be hungry to take them to the next level. While key departures on defense could put a wrench in these plans, I believe Driskel will be adequately prepared to handle his end of the bargain.
Here are the main reasons why.