Friday, October 7, 2011

Expect Jeff Driskel to start for Gators, but Jacoby Brissett could finish

Just about everyone associated with the University of Florida football program expects Jeff Driskel to be the starter against LSU, but that's where the certainty ends.

It might surprise some that true freshman Jacoby Brissett is listed as the backup going into Saturday's 3:30 p.m. kickoff game. Afterall, he joined the team late, doesn't have near the knowledge of the offense as redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and the coaching staff doesn't want him to burn a year of eligibility.

But Brissett is a talent, which is a reason offensive coordinator Charlie Weis went after him with Driskel already in the Gator fold.

A team can never have enough running backs and that might be true for quarterbacks. But Brissett is no slouch in the talent department.

It's anybody's guess how Driskel will fare against the AP's number one team whose defense is right up there with Alabama. And Driskel tweaked his ankle a little in last week's loss to the Crimson Tide, though Gators head coach Will Muschamp says it's nothing to be concerned about.

Driskel will be the fifth true freshman quarterback to start for the Gators in their long history. Three of the other four had good careers (Wayne Peace, Jesse Palmer and Chris Leak).

Peace, Palmer and Leak recorded victories in their inaugural starts, but none faced an opponent as formidable as this year's LSU team, which ranks third nationally in rushing defense and ninth in total defense and scoring defense, allowing less than 13 points per game.

Whoever the quarterback, he is going to need help from the run game and the way Florida played against Alabama that is expecting a lot. Running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps are quick as lighting, but small. Alabama's quickness negated their speed and reduced them to less than mediocre because of their lack of power.

Some believe LSU has a quicker defense than Alabama and the Tigers are nearly as effective against the run, allowing only 3.8 yards per carry against a tougher schedule so far.

Gator fans are hoping for a little deja' vu. In 2003 with Leak as the true freshman starting quarterback, Florida went into Baton Rouge and upset the Tigers 19-7. But realistically expecting someone as untested as Driskel to come up with a similar performance and an over-matched Gator defense to hold LSU to seven points is asking quite a bit to say the least.

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