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Wednesday October 10, 2012Gators expect Driskel's numbers to improve after low output in win over LSU

Jeff Driskel

Photo: Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel was sacked five times and limited to 61 yards passing vs. LSU.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In his first month as Florida's starter, sophomore Jeff Driskel has experienced the highs and lows most young quarterbacks encounter.

The high: SEC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Florida's 37-20 win at Tennessee.

The low: Five sacks, a lost fumble and only 61 yards passing against LSU.

It was only the second win for the Gators since 1996 when they failed to pass for at least 100 yards -- the other was a 30-6 win at Tennessee in 2008 when the Gators passed for 96 yards.

If Driskel's outing against LSU ends up his worst game this season, he'll take it. The Gators won 14-6 to climb to No. 4 in the latest AP Top 25.

Driskel said he could have certainly played better against LSU -- develop better timing with his receivers is one area he wants to improve -- but he doesn't appear to have lost any confidence.

"I don't think I regressed," he said. "There was definitely times where I could have thrown the ball away or made a better throw. But I made some big plays when I needed them and used my feet, and that's a big part of my game."

Gators coach Will Muschamp said Driskel did what the Gators needed to win. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease offered a similar view.

"I don’t think he struggled,” Pease said. “Maybe he was getting a little frustrated. We knew that was going to happen. His maturity is improving every week."

During Driskel's month as Florida's starter he has been charged mostly with managing the offense and limiting turnovers. He has passed that test, throwing only one interception and four touchdowns.

Still, Pease is aware the Gators will often need more than an 8-for-12, 61-yard performance like the one Driskel had against LSU. The most they have asked so far of Driskel in the passing game was in a 38-0 win over Kentucky when Driskel completed 18 of 27 passes for 203 yards.

Overall, Driskel has passed for 759 yards through five games.

"He just needs to continue to play football and execute what we’re trying to execute,” Pease said.

Driskel revealed this week that he has talked to former Gators quarterbacks Chris Leak and Danny Wuerffel about what it means to play quarterback for the Gators.

Driskel didn't reveal specifics, but appreciated the gesture of both national-title winning quarterbacks.

"They’ve said keep it going, we got a long way to go, the season’s not over yet,” Driskel said. “Just general stuff. ‘Keep the team rolling, don’t look back, focus on games ahead.’ "

Muschamp's offensive philosophy starts with a power-run game. The Gators have established that with a revamped offensive line and the emergence of senior tailback Mike Gillislee.

Driskel's continued progress remains a key part of the master plan.

"We need to improve and create more balance offensively," Muschamp said. "It’s a combination of things. There are a lot of things that go into that and we need to just continue to work on that."

Driskel gets that. He planned to do extra work in the film room this week in preparation for Saturday's game at Vanderbilt (ESPNU, 6 p.m. EDT).

Some of that film study included taking a second and third look at the LSU game.

"There’s just times I could have gotten rid of the ball on time, and when I didn’t the window closed up, he looked like he was covered," Driskel said. "When that happens you have to throw it away."

Regardless of Driskel's stat line says, he is confident his time will come to make big plays through the air.

"We're going to have to hit big plays down the field,'' Driskel said. "We haven't had to yet, fortunately, because we've ran the ball so well."

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