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Wednesday September 12, 2012 Muschamp: Replacing the irreplaceable (i.e. Tebow, McCoy) a daunting challenge

Updated: 8:28pm, September 12


Photo: Gators coach Will Muschamp needed to develop leaders when he got to Florida.

Gators coach Will Muschamp was emphatic when asked what he learned about quarterback Jeff Driskel in the sophomore’s first career start Saturday at Texas A&M.

“Nothing,’’ Muschamp told the ESPN cameras as he walked off the field.

Muschamp later clarified that he already knew what he had in Driskel so nothing Driskel did in the 20-17 win surprised him. Muschamp was referring to the intangible qualities that Driskel brings to the huddle: leadership, toughness, athletic ability, etc.

You know those qualities every coach wants in a quarterback but doesn’t always get due to personality traits or physical shortcomings. Driskel showed some of those qualities in the comeback win over the Aggies.

As Driskel continues to develop, we’ll find out more about his ability as a leader and playmaker for the Gators.

During his appearance Monday on the SEC weekly media teleconference, Muschamp made it clear how important leadership is on a team.

“Everyone looks at the numbers of rushing, throwing, winning games, championships,’’ Muschamp said. “All of those things are things you can look at but what you don’t realize is the leadership.”

Muschamp has said several times the leadership on his second Florida team is better than his first.

Driskel has an opportunity to improve the level of confidence Muschamp has in the team’s leaders if he continues to evolve and takes more command of the huddle and the sideline.

Muschamp talked about how important a leader at quarterback can be. He referenced Colt McCoy during his time at Texas and Tim Tebow with the Gators. Texas was 25-2 in McCoy’s final two seasons (2008, ’09) and in Tebow’s last three seasons, the Gators were 36-5.

“Here at Florida, we were void [in leadership] the year before I got here in talking to Urban and now last year,’’ Muschamp said. “What happens to you is you become so dependent on that guy -- your team, your staff, everybody in the organization. And I feel the same way about Colt McCoy at Texas. You become so dependent offensively, defensively as well [knowing] he’s going to make a play, ‘we’re going to be OK here because he’s going to make it happen.’ And then you lose that guy.”

In Muschamp’s final season at Texas in 2010, the Longhorns dropped to 5-7. In Meyer’s final season at Florida – the first of the post-Tebow era – the Gators dropped from 13-1 to 8-5 in 2010. The Gators went 7-6 in Muschamp’s first season as fifth-year senior John Brantley missed two games due to an ankle injury, forcing true freshmen Jacoby Brissett and Driskel into action.

Following players like McCoy and Tebow is often a no-win situation. Brantley and former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert – now at SMU – learned that lesson the difficult way.

So did Muschamp in his first season at Florida.

“I don’t know the exact word I’m looking for but there’s a void in your program from a playmaking standpoint and people always knowing that he’s going to be there and he’s going to bail us out right here,’’ Muschamp said. “I think that there’s a psychological loss as much as there is athletically. When one of those guys moves on, suddenly it affects the staff. It affects the coaches.

“I certainly witnessed it first-hand with Colt and now being in the chair I am now, knowing what Tim brought to this program was so much more than what he did on the field.”

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