Florida to play Brissett, Driskel in football opener

Friday, August 24, 2012 | 4:25 p.m. CDT
Florida quarterbacks Jeff Driskel, left, and Jacoby Brissett stand on the sideline during practice at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. Coach Will Muschamp said Friday that both Brissett and Driskel will play in next week's season opener against Bowling Green.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After countless scrimmages, practices, meetings and evaluations, Florida's quarterback competition remains a dead heat.

So coach Will Muschamp has decided to play two.

Muschamp said Friday that both Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will play in next week's season opener against Bowling Green.

"They both deserve the right to play," Muschamp said. "Both guys are very even, and our football team's got great confidence in both of them. I told both of them today: The last position I'm worried about is quarterback. I feel very comfortable about both guys."

Muschamp said he hasn't decided on a starter and hasn't determined how game repetitions will be split. It probably won't be play by play like former Florida coach Steve Spurrier successfully did against Florida State in 1997. It more likely will be series by series or quarter by quarter.

"We can win with both guys," Muschamp said. "We function as an offense regardless of who that guy is very well. It's a compliment to both guys because they both have a similar skill set and they both are accomplished in what they're doing."

The sophomores essentially will continue to compete in games to "see if there is some separation," Muschamp said.

"I think that's the next step," he added.

Florida's QB competition has been open since John Brantley played his final game against Ohio State in the Gator Bowl. Neither Brissett nor Driskel made a move during spring practice, summer workouts or fall camp.

Both got a chance to play in big games last year, but neither did much.

Brissett started games against LSU and Auburn, but lost both. He completed 46 percent of his passes for 206 yards for the year, with two touchdowns and four interceptions last season. Driskel got thrown in when Brantley was hurt against Alabama and finished the season completing 47 percent of his passes for 148 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

One potential wrinkle to the situation: Driskel is still recovering from a shoulder injury and has not been cleared for contact. If he doesn't get clearance next week, he will not be able to play.

Muschamp said Driskel will be re-evaluated Monday. The coach expects to name a starter in the middle of the week. The 23rd-ranked Gators face Texas A&M and Tennessee, both on the road after the opener.

Whether the competition gets settled before then remains to be seen.

"There won't be a whole lot of change when one guy's in or the other," Muschamp said. "They're both very similar. From the schematic standpoint, there's not a drastic difference between the two guys as far as what we do and how we operate, which has been good for our offensive players because they're not trying to field two different styles of offense when one guy's on the field and one guy's not."

And what about the football adage that if you have two quarterbacks, it means you don't have one?

"I don't know. I look at two talented guys we can win with. It didn't seem to affect LSU last year," Muschamp said, referring to the Tigers reaching the Bowl Championship Series national title game.

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