COLUMBIA — Jeff Driskel may be coming off a mistake-filled outing in Floridas loss to Georgia. But when it comes to comparisons, Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel isnt shy about heaping to lavish praise on Driskel, Floridas sophomore quarterback.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
I think hes probably a Collin Klein type, Steckel said, referring to Kansas States rugged Heisman-contending quarterback, but (he) throws better and isnt as physical. Klein is a more physical player, Driskel is a better thrower. But both very, very good runners.
Make no mistake about it: Stopping Driskel and Floridas run-heavy scheme will absolutely be paramount if the Tigers hope to score a road upset against the Gators at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Driskel had an uncharacteristically off outing in No. 8 Floridas 17-9 loss last Saturday, throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles. But on the whole, hes been steady and efficient for the one-loss Gators, completing 99 of 153 passes (64.7 percent) for 1,114 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions.
Driskel has also rushed 79 times for 317 yards and four touchdowns, displaying a dual-threat capability that apparently evokes some images of Klein, who has guided the Wildcats to an 8-0 record and a No. 3 ranking.
Driskel, however, is hardly the only running threat for the Gators. Senior tailback Mike Gillislee has been a workhorse, toting the rock 161 times for 729 yards an average of 4.5 yards per carry and seven touchdowns. As a team, the Gators average 4.4 yards per carry and have run the ball more than twice as much as theyve thrown the ball this season.
Steckel credits new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who was the offensive coordinator for Boise State in 2011, for having a varied scheme. The Gators rank fourth in the SEC in rushing offense.
Theyre doing all kinds of stuff, Steckel said. Theres a zillion formations, shifts, motions theres a whole bunch of stuff theyre going to show us. They probably have about 10 or 11 different personnel groupings.
That said, with a sure-to-be-ticked-off Florida team certain to pound the rock Saturday, Steckel said his defensive unit will need to be disciplined to slow down the Gators, which will ultimately fall on himself and defensive-line coach Craig Kuligowski.
Weve got to do a really good job this week of being in our gaps and using our fundamentals, said Steckel, whose team ranks seventh out of 14 SEC teams in rushing defense (1,108 yards allowed).
They run the ball so well, were going to need all 11 guys. Corners have got to tackle, safeties have got to tackle, the linebackers (too).
Theyre going to use so many different looks youre going to see our corners in the box sometimes because of formations they give you. Theyre so multiple. I dont think Ive ever seen this many personnel groups and formations.
The Tigers will also need to continue to give great effort in pursuit of the football. Every game, the staff counts the number of times each player doesnt hustle to the ball they call these loafs and Steckel admitted that this group has had fewer than normal.
Now everything has to get better, Steckel said. But at this point, I think our kids are really running to the football. Thats what they are supposed to do, though. If they dont want to run to the football, Ive got a place for them. Its right next to me, behind the white line.
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.