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After sitting out 2011 matchup, Driskel gets shot at LSU

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Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 2:19 am | Updated: 2:38 am, Tue Oct 2, 2012.

On Saturday, Jeff Driskel will get the chance he never got last season.

When Florida was preparing to face eventual Southeastern Conference champion LSU a year ago, Driskel spent most of his time rehabbing an ankle sprain in the training room.

Florida needed a starter to replace John Brantley, who suffered a high ankle sprain against Alabama seven days before UF was slated to play LSU. But Driskel would not be the guy.

Instead, Jacoby Brissett started in his place.

Brissett completed 8 of 14 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions as Florida lost 41-11 in Baton Rouge, La.

"I was in the training room all day long trying to get back, doing whatever I could," Driskel said. "There was just not enough time."

Driskel entered UF as the nation's top-rated passer and had the advantage of being an early enrollee.

When Brantley went down against the Crimson Tide, Driskel got the call, completing 2 of 6 passes for 14 yards.

Driskel said he was upset about not being able to play against the Tigers, but added that his performance was the biggest reason he took a backseat to Brissett for the remainder of the season.

"A lot of guys in his situation nowadays want to point at a situation and say, 'It's not fair,'" coach Will Muschamp said. "Instead, he decided to work."

After earning rave reviews in summer and fall camp, Driskel opened 2012 as the starter at quarterback.

Through four games he has thrown for 698 yards and four touchdowns with one interception while completing 69.6 percent of his passes.

He also has 33 carries for 148 yards and a score.

"He's a guy that took his circumstances and did something about it," Muschamp said. "It's a credit to him and his fortitude and his drive."

Nearly one year after UF's 2011 matchup with LSU, Driskel will finally get a shot at the Tigers.

LSU boasts the nation's No. 6 pass defense, including a defensive line Muschamp said was "probably as good a front four (as there is) in college football."

The unit is headed by elite talents Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery at defensive end.

Linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Eric Reid have also distinguished themselves as two of the nation's best.

"They have speed all over the field, and especially at the defensive line," Driskel said.

"That front four is the best that we'll see all year. It's loaded with first-round draft picks."

Regardless of the challenges ahead, Muschamp wants Driskel to focus on playing within his limits.

Driskel needs to get the ball out of his hands quickly and ensure UF gets in and out of the correct play calls.

"Jeff needs to be Jeff," Muschamp said. "We don't need any super-human effort. He doesn't need to do anything more than he's done in the previous four weeks."

Driskel said he plans to prepare for LSU with many hours in the film room — a welcome upgrade over the training room he was confined to a year ago.

"I'm excited to get this opportunity," Driskel said. "That's why you come to Florida, and that's why you want to play in the SEC."

Contact Greg Luca at gluca@alligator.org.

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