Jacksonville St.-Florida Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 13, 2012
Jacoby Brissett took the first snap of Florida's season, then headed to the bench. He's pretty much been there ever since. But with Jeff Driskel doubtful for Saturday's game against FCS opponent Jacksonville State, Brissett likely will get another chance under center for the seventh-ranked Gators (9-1). "There's no question, I think it's a great example for us all," coach Will Muschamp said Monday. "When your number is called, you better hurry up and perform and perform well. We always talk about man down, man up, and in that situation, you've got to man up and play. "It's different from other positions, the quarterback position, and how it affects the entire team." Driskel sprained his right ankle in the third quarter of a 27-20 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday. Driskel injured his ankle while being tackled on a zone-read run. He got re-taped on the sideline, but couldn't return. Brissett came off the bench and went 6 of 8 for 64 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked twice and nearly threw an interception on his first four passing plays. But the sophomore rebounded, finding Jordan Reed down the middle for a 39-yard gain and then hooking up with Quinton Dunbar for a 3-yard score to tie the game with 1:42 remaining. Florida returned a blocked punt for a score with 2 seconds remaining to stave off overtime and potentially the program's biggest upset. Much of the talk Monday, though, surrounded the QBs. Driskel is still wearing a protective walking boot and probably won't practice this week. Brissett, meanwhile, has been waiting for a shot since losing the battle for the starting job in the opener. Brissett started two games last season and seemed to be the favorite to win the job this season. But the coaching staff picked Driskel because of his ability to make plays with his legs behind a shaky offensive line. Muschamp said Brissett handled the decision admirably, continuing to work like a starter in practice. So his relief performance Saturday went about like what the coaches expected. "What I've seen over a year and a half that we've been here together is a guy has prepared himself well, is very talented," Muschamp said. "He's going to have the opportunities to make good choices and decisions on the field, which he'll do. I've got a lot of confidence in him. I don't think it's just any one day that you say this gives you confidence. I think it's over a period of time that builds confidence with him." Driskel has been mostly inconsistent, not all that uncommon for a first-year starter. He has held the ball too long at times, rarely looked to throw when he scrambles and made several costly mistakes in Florida's loss to Georgia. Driskel has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 1,324 yards, with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also has 424 yards rushing and four scores, but has been sacked 29 times. Brissett has less mobility, but tight end Omarius Hines said he brings other attributes to the table. "Just throwing the ball wise," Hines said. "He's a better thrower." Brissett also has shown a penchant for throwing deep. "It'll open up plays for us, like set up the run game and at the same time set up the passing stuff, too," Hines said. The Gators have won 50 consecutive games against teams outside the BCS and have never lost to an FCS opponent. Even if Driskel doesn't play, Florida expects to extend that streak Saturday against Jacksonville State (6-4). And with rival and 10th-ranked Florida State on tap the following week, it might seem better to rest Driskel a week anyway, right? "We'll see how the swelling goes on the ankle and see where it goes," Muschamp said. "Some guys recover quicker than others. ... We'll see Wednesday what he can do or if he can do anything. If not, then we'll go forward and be fine. Jacoby will play well." The Gamecocks have averaged 38.5 points in winning three of four, defeating Austin Peay 38-23 last week. They are led by Marques Ivory, who's passed for 1,908 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. Jacksonville State's running back tandem of DaMarcus James and Washaun Ealey has rushed for 1,555 yards and 16 TDs. These teams will be meeting for the first time.
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