Gators hope Driskel can wake up offense
GAINESVILLE - Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel is ready to play. It remains to be seen if he's ready to start. Coach Will Muschamp said Monday that Driskel will return from a sprained right ankle Saturday when the No. 6 Gators play at 10th-ranked Florida State. But Muschamp stopped short of declaring Driskel the starter. "He will play in the game," Muschamp said. "To what degree? Again, the week will determine that on how his health continues to improve."Driskel sat out Saturday's 23-0 win against Jacksonville State. Jacoby Brissett started in his place and completed 14 of 22 passes for 154 yards. Driskel was on the sideline without a walking boot, a positive sign for Florida (10-1). He also worked out Sunday and looked good, Muschamp said. "He wouldn't have been able to play last week regardless of who we played," Muschamp said. "Based on talking to him (Sunday) and feeling very comfortable about where he is right now, regardless of who we're playing, he would be able to play this week." Driskel missed practice Monday but is expected to be ready today. He has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,324 yards, with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. His ability to scramble has been clutch for the Gators, whose offensive line has lost most matchups this season. Having him back against the Seminoles (10-1) could be key. Florida State has a formidable front, led by defensive ends Bjoern Werner (91/2 sacks) and Cornellius "Tank" Carradine (101/2 sacks), and have had little drop-off since losing senior Brandon Jenkins to a season-ending foot injury. "They are very athletic," Muschamp said. "They got girth. They got size. They got speed. They've recruited. They've got a lot of depth and they throw a lot guys in there to play and play well. When you lose a guy like Brandon Jenkins to start the season and you're able to still play at a high level and rush the passer well with four guys rushing, it says a lot about your recruiting. "They're very similar to what we've seen." No matter who's been at quarterback, Florida has struggled to find an offensive rhythm since beating Vanderbilt on Oct. 13. The Gators were outgained in wins against South Carolina and Missouri as well as a loss to Georgia. And even against Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State the past two weeks, the Gators were more uninspiring than imposing. They needed to return a blocked punt for a touchdown to avoid overtime and potentially a huge upset against the Ragin' Cajuns two weeks ago, and then managed just one offensive touchdown against the Gamecocks on Saturday. Awards finalists Muschamp is one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Club's coach of the year award. … Caleb Sturgis and Kyle Christy are finalists for the Lou Groza and Ray Guy Awards, which go to the nation's top kicker and punter, respectively. Florida State's Dustin Hopkins is a Groza finalist for the second year in a row.
Florida Today's David Jones contributed to this report.
The Daystarter: Stormy forecast for Tampa Bay; watering restrictions back in place; new DEP head denies political conflict; peering ahead to Super Bowl LV in Tampa