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Gators quarterback Jacoby Brissett is preparing to make his first start since the season opener.

Tuesday November 13, 2012Pease: Brissett Has a Great Opportunity

Gators quarterback Jacoby Brissett is preparing to make his first start since the season opener.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – As Gators starting quarterback Jeff Driskel walked across campus on crutches Tuesday, fellow sophomore Jacoby Brissett continued to prepare as if he’ll start Saturday’s game against Jacksonville State.

Brissett replaced an injured Driskel in last week’s win over Louisiana and finished 6 of 8 for 64 yards and a touchdown. Driskel’s sprained right ankle has kept him out of practice this week and he is doubtful for Saturday’s home finale. Florida coach Will Muschamp said Monday that trainers hope Driskel might be able to test the ankle at Wednesday’s practice.

“He’s sore. He got rolled on his ankle pretty good,’’ Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Tuesday. “He’s rehabbing. He’ll be fine.

“[Jacoby] will take the majority of the reps. It’s going to be Jacoby in there and everything is going to be centered around him. He’s taken good quality reps [all season]. Now it’s just kind of getting him settled in with what we’re going to do with the game plan.”

With it looking more likely that Brissett will start, Pease said redshirt junior Tyler Murphy will serve as the backup if Driskel is not ready.

Meanwhile, Brissett is going about his business as usual in preparation for his fourth career start.

“You’ve got to step up and prepare like the starter,’’ Brissett said. “That’s what I was kind of doing the whole way up to this point.”

While he technically started the season opener against Bowling Green – Brissett took the first snap and then gave way to Driskel – the last time Brissett prepared as the regular starter was the middle of last season when he replaced injured John Brantley.

Brissett made two starts as a true freshman, losses at LSU and at Auburn. Prior to his relief effort against Louisiana, Brissett’s only two appearances since the season opener came in mop-up duty against Kentucky and South Carolina.

Brissett said Tuesday that the biggest adjustment he must make is developing a better feel for the game at a faster pace than he is accustomed to of late.

“I’ve got to get more acclimated to the speed,’’ he said. “Without having those game reps, you can’t really practice how the game will be. The tempo and the speed are different.”

Pease said there are no plans to overhaul the offense for Brissett, who lacks Driskel’s running ability but offers other tools Pease can use to get the Gators’ offense moving.

With Driskel, the Gators rely heavily on read-option attack that allows Driskel to use his athleticism as runner.

Brissett is more of a traditional pocket passer who does have the ability to throw on the run like he did against Louisiana on his 3-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Dunbar with 1:42 remaining.

“He’s got good vision of the field,’’ Pease said. “He’s got good pocket awareness and understands coverages and sees the things he that he needs to see.

“Jacoby has a great opportunity. And what he does to improve us and do a good job for himself as well as is teammates, hey, it’s his stage for this game. Step up and do what you’ve got to do. Your number is called. Go carry the flag.”

While Brissett offers a different skill-set than Driskel, Pease doesn’t expect to turn totally away from the read-option attack Florida has used with Driskel. Trey Burton has taken several snaps in the Wildcat formation this season and is a dangerous runner.

Brissett and Driskel are similar enough that there are ample plays both run regularly in practice.

That won’t change Saturday against the Gamecocks.

“I still think we stay within our philosophy,’’ Pease said. “I think we’ve got a pretty good recipe. Is it totally what you want it to be in the big picture? No, there’s things we’ve got to improve on. There are pieces you can put in. I’m glad we’ve got two good [quarterbacks], three good ones.

“I’m so proud of the kid to step in a tough situation and make the plays he did when he did.”

Once he was able to watch film of Saturday’s game, Brissett saw some areas he can improve. But he added the game was a confidence boost, too, especially the game-tying drive on which he was 3-for-3 for 48 yards.

“It helps you out a lot just getting back in the rhythm and getting acclimated to game speed,’’ he said. “Things will start to progressively slow down hopefully.”

Pease was not surprised.

He was not around last year when Brissett was named the starter at LSU and Auburn – when he started at LSU Brissett became the first UF quarterback in school history to take his first collegiate snap as the team’s starting quarterback – but Pease never doubted Brissett’s ability.

Even in the situation Brissett inherited against Louisiana.

“He has handled it professionally,’’ he said. “To step in a situation like that and to have to make some plays, opposed to just taking reps to end the game, it shows he has prepared every week. Now he has an opportunity to be in a full-game situation.”

 

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