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Monday November 19, 2012Muschamp Says Driskel will Play Saturday as Gators Turn Attention to Florida State

Gainesville, Fla.

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Before all the FSU and BCS questions were lobbed Will Muschamp's way Monday, he had something to say about JMD. As in quarterback Jeffrey Matthew Driskel.

He'll play this weekend in Tallahassee.

Driskel, the sophomore sidelined since rolling an ankle Nov. 10 during a homecoming win over Louisiana, worked out Sunday and will be available when the sixth-ranked Gators (10-1) face the rival and 10th-ranked Florida State Seminoles (10-1) Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Whether Driskel or Jacoby Brisset, who played the entire game in UF's 23-0 defeat of Jacksonville State two days ago, gets the start will depend on how the next few days of practice play out.

"What percentage will he be? I don't know right now," Muschamp said, adding Driskel would take Monday night's practice off and return to the field with his teammates Tuesday. "But he will play in the game. To what degree? Again, the week will determine that on how his health continues to improve."

It could mean Driskel starts and goes the distance. It could mean Brissett and he share snaps during the game. It could even mean Driskel gives it a go and can't continue.

Whatever the scenario, Muschamp made it clear he was confident with whoever is under center. He praised the emergency play of Brisset, who against the Gamecocks went 14 of 22 for 154 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and was sacked once.

"I think Jacoby is able to handle anything we do," he said.

In normal circumstances, Driskel's mobility -- assuming he could plant on that ankle -- would seem a better fit against a physical and fast Florida State defense ranked No. 1 overall (236.2 yards per game), No. 1 against the run (70.6 ypg), No. 5 against the pass (165.64 ypg), along with 28 sacks and 58 tackles for loss.

On paper, those numbers look daunting when placed against UF's offensive statistics.

The Gators rank 104th among FBS teams in total offense (332.91 ypg), including 114th in passing (143.36 ypg). Florida, though, is one of the Southeastern Conference's top rushing teams, averaging 189.5 yards against some of the better defenses in the country.

Not that Muschamp cares all that much about numbers.

In starting the first 10 games of the season, Driskel completed nearly 65 percent of his passes for 1,324 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also was UF's second-leading rusher with 424 yards and four touchdowns.

"At the end of the day, the most important thing is winning the game and doing what it takes to win games," he said. "That's what we're judged on. Not style points, not stats. None of those things matter to me."

At 10-1, they probably shouldn't.

Even after a shutout victory over Jacksonville State that was far from dominating, the Gators benefited from BCS insanity late Saturday night. Losses by top-ranked Kansas State and second-ranked Oregon moved Florida to No. 4 in the BCS standings, behind only Notre Dame, Alabama and Georgia, respectively and at least into that title conversation again should a number of things happen this coming Saturday.

"Huge if," Muschamp said.

His players weren't biting, either.

"We're just going to try and go up to Tallahassee and play like we've been playing all season," senior linebacker Jon Bostic said. "The rest will play itself out."

Senior nose tackle Omar Hunter claimed ignorance to the whole BCS mess.

"I didn't even know we were No. 4. I thought it was like 21 or something like that," he said. "It would be great playing for a national championship again, but we just got to worry about Florida State this week."

The Seminoles provide plenty of fodder on that front, starting with a lopsided two-game winning streak in the series by a combined score of 52-14.

On the list of lows from the 2011 season was the 21-7 beatdown the Seminoles put to the Gators at Florida Field on Senior Night.

After that one, Muschamp announced to the press corps that Florida was a "soft football team," as tough a criticism as any coach could levy on his players.

He was asked Monday what prompted that pronouncement.

"It was a culmination of things that got built up," Muschamp said of his post-game rant. "A little frustration, and you say what's on your mind. That's what I do with my team in the locker room when the game is over, and that would have been our challenge as we moved forward from that point and into our offseason program."

The toughness factor since?

"Night and day," Muschamp said.

One year later, that's also the result the coach, players and everything orange and blue will be looking for Saturday.


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