Florida's Will Muschamp says Jeff Driskel 'gives us the best opportunity to win right now'



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GAINESVILLE, Florida — After arguably the worst game of his college career, quarterback Jeff Driskel remains Florida's starter.

At least for another game.

Coach Will Muschamp said Wednesday he's sticking with Driskel for next week's game at Tennessee, saying the fourth-year junior "gives us the best opportunity to win right now."

"Jeff needs to play better. He understands that," Muschamp said. "He certainly forced some things that we can't afford to do."

Driskel completed 9 of 28 passes for 93 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions, in a 42-21 loss at Alabama on Saturday. He was particularly ineffective on deep passes, misfiring on 14 of 16 throws that went at least 10 yards.

It was the sixth time in his last seven starts that Driskel failed to play turnover-free football. The Gators (2-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) went 4-3 in those games, with Driskel getting the brunt of the blame in all three losses. He has 10 touchdowns (eight passing, two rushing) and 11 turnovers (eight interceptions and three fumbles) in those games.

His pocket presence, decision-making ability and accuracy have become recurring themes in Gainesville, with critics saying he has shown little improvement between 2012 and now.

His performance against the Tide may have been his low point.

Muschamp showed little confidence in Driskel at the end of the first half, opting to run out the final 1:44 despite having three timeouts and trailing by a touchdown.

Former Florida great Emmitt Smith even took to Twitter to vent, saying he's seen enough of Driskel and it's time to bench him.

Smith later called Muschamp and Driskel to apologize.

"He was frustrated," Muschamp said. "He wants us to win. He wants us to be successful. He's a great Gator. Everybody's entitled to their opinion. And I appreciate Emmitt calling and saying the things he said, I really do. He's a class individual, and he's about all the right things."

Muschamp said any potential changes would come on the defensive side of the ball.

The secondary gave up numerous big plays against Alabama — and Kentucky the week before, too.

The Gators allowed touchdown passes of 87 and 79 yards in the first quarter to the Tide and 449 passing yards in the game.

"We're looking at a lot of different guys in different spots," Muschamp said. "Can't continue to do the same things. The mistakes we've made in some situations back there are inexcusable. It's on me. We'll get it fixed. We're going to work through it. Haven't been through this before very often, I can tell you that. But extremely frustrating."

But he's not ready to make a move at quarterback.

Backup Treon Harris, though, could see playing time against the Volunteers. The freshman from Miami completed both of his passes for touchdowns in the season opener against Eastern Michigan. He connected on scores of 70 and 78 yards, giving him a staggering quarterback efficiency rating of 1051.60.

"He continues to improve and continues to do some nice things," Muschamp said. "We'd like to have him have some snaps, depending on the situation in the game. ... But Jeff gives us the best opportunity to win right now."

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