GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Jacoby Brissett doesn’t yet know if he’ll be taking snaps against Florida State on Saturday.
But he is sure he’ll be much more ready to do so than he was last season.
Brissett was forced into action in Florida’s game against FSU when starting quarterback John Brantley went down with a concussion late in the first half. Though he had started games at Auburn and at LSU earlier in the season, Brissett wasn’t prepared for what he faced against the Seminoles.
"I remember they were way faster than the team that was just out on that field," Brissett said after Florida’s 23-0 victory over Jacksonville State on Saturday afternoon. "I knew everything that was going on but the way they moved was -- it was just different."
Brissett had his worst performance of his freshman season against the Noles. He completed just 4 of 13 passes for 27 yards with one touchdown and one interception, which was returned for a touchdown. He also was sacked twice for minus-16 yards and ran three times for 10 yards. His 6-yard TD pass to Quinton Dunbar came after the Gators recovered a fumble on the FSU 21-yard line. That was the only time UF had the ball in FSU territory in the second half. Brissett never drove the Gators past their own 41 in eight other possessions.
Brissett may get another shot at FSU on Saturday if Jeff Driskel’s sprained right ankle doesn’t improve. Driskel was on the sideline for the Gators’ victory over Jacksonville State and wasn’t wearing a protective boot or brace on his ankle. He isn’t yet cleared to practice and UF coach Will Muschamp said Driskel will be re-evaluated on Monday.
"I think it’s much better than it was," Muschamp said. "He’s off crutches. He’s not in a walking boot or a brace anymore. We’ll see how it progresses through the week. I probably will know more Monday and certainly more Wednesday about where he is."
Wednesday is the cutoff day for Driskel’s availability. He won’t play if he doesn’t practice by then.
Brissett said he’s going to prepare over the next few days as if he is going to start against Florida State.
"Just make sure I’m ready," he said. "It’s coach’s decision. Hopefully we get Jeff back fast. Whatever he decides, I’m ready for."
Regardless of which quarterback plays, the Gators’ offense won’t have it easy. FSU ranks in the top five nationally in the four major statistical categories -- total defense, rush defense, pass defense, scoring defense -- and also leads the nation in third-down defense.
Brissett was solid against Jacksonville State on Saturday, completing 14 of 22 passes for 154 yards. He was sacked once and didn’t throw a touchdown or interception in his first significant action since the season opener against Bowling Green.
Florida (10-1) has a better chance of beating Florida State (10-1) if Driskel plays because of his mobility. The Seminoles likely will attack the Gators the same way every other team has during the second half of the season: stack the box and stop RB Mike Gillislee and use delayed blitzes and overloads when the Gators do try and pass. Pass protection breakdowns happen regularly and the receivers, other than TE Jordan Reed, are struggling to get open.
Driskel has bailed the Gators out with his legs by scrambling and with designed runs. He has rushed for 424 yards and four touchdowns, including 177 yards and three touchdowns against Vanderbilt. UF needs every bit of firepower its pedestrian offense can muster against FSU.
"There’s just some things we need to do better to be more consistent offensively as we move forward," Muschamp said. "I know I’ve been saying that. I know it’s a broken record, but we’ve got to get better. We’re going to continue to work at it."