It's not much of a secret that Will Muschamp is trying to reproduce the same kind of success at Florida his old mentor Nick Saban has enjoyed at Alabama, in much the same lockdown-defense-and-bruising-running-game formula. So is it a coincidence Muschamp is also now taking the same approach to his two-headed quarterback situation that Saban did last summer, just before his team went on to win the national championship?
Well, yes, it probably is a coincidence, since neither Jacoby Brissett (pictured) nor Jeff Driskel has been able to gain any separation from the other in a year of competition. But regardless, just as Saban let AJ McCarron and the since-departed Phillip Sims take their battle into the season, so Muschamp told Thursday's Gator Club meeting that he's ready to let both Brissett and Driskel play this fall, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.
“If we need to play two,'' Muschamp said, “we'll play two.''
That was the approach during the spring game, when the pair of sophomores split snaps nearly right-down-the-middle. Brissett finished an explosive 9-of-16 for 233 yards, Driskel an even more precise 12-for-14 for 147 yards, with the two of them combining for three touchdowns.
There's a danger in letting the quarterback competition drag on if the competitors aren't on the same page and the team divides into camps, but Brissett said after the Gator spring game that's not an issue.
“It's great. I love it,” Brissett said of his battle with Driskel. “Coming out every day competing against the No. 1 quarterback [recruit] in the country a couple years ago, it don't get no better.”
If morale stays that high between the two, if each of them uses the other as motivational fuel, if the even-split of practice repetitions doesn't damage their learning curve when it comes to adapting to Brent Pease's offense and if the team is ready to support whichever of the pair eventually wins the job (or the pair as a whole, as long as the competition continues), then Muschamp's plan is a sound one.
Of course, that there's that many if's in play explains why most coaches would prefer to name a starter heading into fall camp and proceed from there. But when Nick Saban has shown that's not the only way to do things, it's hard to argue.
Also in Florida news: Gator sophomore reserve linebacker Graham Stewart has elected to transfer out of the program, the team announced Friday.
The Middleton, Conn. native said in a statement issued by the school that "personal family issues" required a transfer to a school closer to home. Stewart played in 12 games as a true freshman, mostly as a special teams contributor. He recorded one tackle, but did score a touchdown in the Gators' 24-17 bowl victory over Ohio State when he returned a blocked punt for a score.
"Family always comes first with me and he needs to be closer to his family,'' Muschamp said. "I'm thankful for his contributions to our team and wish him nothing but the best of luck. He will always have my support and backing if he needs any help in the future."
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