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Driskel's mobility lent edge over Brissett

9/3/2012

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It wasn't Jeff Driskel's arm that won him the starting quarterback job over Jacoby Brissett. It was his legs.

UF coach Will Muschamp said Driskel's ability as a runner was a big part of the decision to make him the Gators' starter for the foreseeable future, beginning with Saturday's game at Texas A&M. The 6-foot-4, 232-pound sophomore was a dual-threat player in high school and that adds an element to the offense that Brissett doesn't have.

"The quarterback run game creates issues for a defense," Muschamp said. "I think in the development of our offense, that's certainly something that's going to benefit us."

Driskel was UF's second-leading rusher in last week's 27-14 victory over Bowling Green, gaining 24 yards on three carries. He had a 26-yard gain on a called run to the right side in the fourth quarter. Last year, Driskel ran for just 18 yards on 16 carries as a freshman, but he did have a 31-yard run.

"Me running the ball is a big part of my game," Driskel said. "I can make a play at any time. Any time the pocket breaks down or something happens, I feel like I can get outside."

Driskel is the more athletic of the two quarterbacks. He ran for 1,333 yards and 20 touchdowns and threw for 1,819 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior at Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Fla. Brissett (6-3, 229) is a pure pocket passer. He threw for 2,473 yards and 32 touchdowns with only one interception as a senior at Dwyer in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Driskel's athleticism could open up the passing game, receiver Frankie Hammond said, because it can lead to big gains on broken plays.

"Things break down in the pocket, he's able to stretch plays and he can run the ball as well, so that's definitely something that defenses will have to respect when we go against teams down the line," Hammond said.

On the surface, Brissett seems the better fit for the pro-style offense that Muschamp wants to run, but the Gators are still having offensive line issues and Driskel's ability to escape pressure or keep plays alive with his feet is a plus. A good example is a third-down play against Bowling Green, in which Driskel used a burst of speed to evade a defensive end on a bootleg. When he got clear, he had the opportunity to hit tight end Jordan Reed for a first down but hesitated to make the throw, had to avoid another defender and ended up stepping out of bounds.

The result of the play was a 7-yard loss, but it showcased Driskel's athleticism. It also showed that while he can make those kinds of plays with his legs, he's got to get better at making them with his arm.

"We need to get that one [throw] off," Muschamp said. "We had an opportunity to convert that third down and didn’t. Other than that, he took the ball to the right spots. He had two drops. I think he did some good things, as far as management of what we’re trying to do."