On Saturday afternoon in Miami, Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel was given multiple chances to put his team in position to beat the host Hurricanes.
He couldn't—time and time again.
The junior signal-caller for the Gators had rather decent stats—22-of-33 for 291 yards and a touchdown. But two key interceptions and one fumble killed Florida's chances in the 21-16 loss to the 'Canes
The two interceptions couldn't have come at a worse time.
With Florida driving early in the second quarter, Driskel was picked off by Rayshawn Jenkins on the 4-yard line on a 3rd-and-goal with his team down 14-6. With Florida's strong defense, any points would have been beneficial there.
But it got worse.
After Miami quarterback Stephen Morris was picked off by freshman Vernon Hargreaves III to give the Gators the ball in Miami field position down five in the fourth quarter, Florida got things cooking again, taking the ball into the red zone with 6:57 to play. Driskel hurried a quick out and it was picked off by Tracy Howard.
After Florida's defense held—a recurring theme of the day—Driskel was sacked on his own 8-yard line and fumbled, effectively ending any chance of a Gator comeback.
It's another indication that Driskel will never lead the Gators back to the top of the pack in the SEC. When the pressure falls on his shoulders and he is asked to go win games, he can't do it.
Florida's defense and running game will keep them in games, but the program is not equipped to be two-dimensional with Driskel at the helm. Florida is going to have to open it up to win the SEC, and nothing Driskel has done throughout his Gator career suggests that he can handle the responsibility.
Take nothing away from the 'Canes. Their defense is improved but nothing compared to what Driskel sees in conference play.
Stretching the field is a foreign concept to these Gators, and it shows every time Driskel is forced to do it. They couldn't stretch the field against Miami, couldn't do it when their defense let them down against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl last season and they couldn't do it even when Georgia was trying to hand them a game last year.
They're one-dimensional by necessity, not by choice.
It's not all Driskel's fault. Quinton Dunbar and Solomon Patton are decent options, but are really the only two weapons outside. And they aren't downfield threats and it's difficult for Driskel to thrive without some game-breaking playmakers on the perimeter.
This is Florida football with Driskel at the helm. It's ultra-conservative, it's ugly and it's, for the most part, effective. But when Plan A fails, there is no Plan B. Luckily for Florida, Plan A works most of the time.
It just didn't on Saturday afternoon against Miami.
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