Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel expects to be ready for the start of the regular season. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BY DAVID JONES Tribune staff
Published: August 9, 2013   |
Updated: August 9, 2013 at 09:36 PM
GAINESVILLE — Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said Friday he won’t take a hit on the football field until the season opener on Aug. 31 against Toledo, after having his appendix removed last week and missing the first six practices of camp.
But he feels like everything is getting back to normal.
In a camp that has Gators coach Will Muschamp concerned about the growing number of injuries, there’s a positive with Driskel back on the field. He must go through the NCAA-mandated adjustment period of practicing without pads, but early next week things should be close to back to normal.
“I didn’t have any pain, no issues,’’ Driskel said of his first day on the field Thursday night. “I didn’t get all the reps I’d like to, because I’m still in the acclimation period, so I couldn’t be out there in pads. So there were a couple of things I couldn’t do. But other than that, I wasn’t limited at all.
“I’m sure I won’t take a hit until the first game, but I’m sure I could right now. I’m sure I could, we haven’t tested or anything like that. Everything seems fine, and that’s not really an issue for me anymore.’’
Mentally, he said he’s “up to speed’’ with the installation of the offense after spending the early practices watching.
“(Being in the) second year in the offense means there’s not really anything I haven’t done yet. I think I’ve done a good job of staying alert in the meetings and getting the mental reps. I think I’m good to go,’’ he said.
Driskel said he walked on the treadmill and used an elliptical machine for several days after the surgery then started working back into shape. He didn’t do any lifting, however.
“I just think I’m a lot more comfortable,’’ he said of his second season under offensive coordinator Brent Pease. “I know where to throw the ball and I know where to throw the ball in certain situations and we’re a lot better at timing. I’m getting the ball out before they’re breaking rather than waiting for them to break to throw the ball. That’s a big difference in catching the ball and getting tackled or catching the ball and turning it up field.’’
Driskel said he isn’t sure if the appendix was close to bursting, which could have made recovery time much longer.
“I’m guessing if they wanted to do surgery that quick, I’m sure it wasn’t too good in there. They said it was pretty swollen and they wanted to get it out just in case it ruptured,’’ Driskel said.
Meanwhile, the injuries continue to pile up. Freshman linebacker Matt Rolin is done for the season after tearing the ACL he already had surgery on while in high school.
“He’s still got a tremendous future at the University of Florida and will be a really good football player. He’s physical, he’s tough, he’s smart and I just really hurt for both of those guys,’’ Gators coach Will Muschamp said of Rolin and receiver Andre Debose, who also tore an ACL and is done for the year.
Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs has a sprained knee and should be back in about 10 days. Defensive back Jaylen Watkins has a sprained foot and will definitely miss next week’s practices. Muschamp expects him to return on Aug. 19.
Offensive lineman Rod Johnson had a meniscus injury from high school flare up and swell, and he had surgery on Friday. Muschamp expects him back on the field in three or four weeks.
Jon Halapio (pectoral tear) met with doctors Friday, while fellow offensive lineman Max Garcia (back) is cleared for individual work. Running back Matt Jones (viral infection) is running some but hasn’t been cleared.
“Sometimes those things just happen, God only knows,’’ Muschamp said of preseason injuries. “It’s unfortunate and frustrating for everyone involved, but again, it’s just very frustrating. There’s nothing that you go back and look at it, and when a guy plants his foot and turns the wrong way, it just happened. It’s nothing that nobody rolled up on him, nobody ran into him.
“That’s the frustrating part. It’s almost you can stomach a little better, because football’s a tough game, football’s a violent game, sometimes those things happen. It’s no different than Ronald Powell on the sideline in the spring game, planted on it wrong. Unfortunately, you hate to be hard about it, but that’s part of the game and they understand that when they play.’’
Muschamp said Driskel “had great command in what we were doing and directing traffic’’ in his first day back.
“The guys know this is Jeff’s team. We have a lot of confidence in him, and certainly you felt the command out there,’’ Muschamp said. “But I think Tyler Murphy did a really good job too. I’m really excited, very valuable for him and us moving forward.’’
Muschamp also left the door open for linebacker Antonio Morrison to cut his two-game suspension short. He rejoined the team Thursday after being suspended from team activities following his second arrest this summer — which did not result in charges — for barking at a police dog.
“I feel like missing a week of camp was a pretty strong statement to him and where I stood with some things,’’ Muschamp said. “He’s still working through things. He’s still a part of our team. He was never not a part of our team. ... I’m still working through (the suspension length).”