Florida’s beleaguered starting quarterback Jeff Driskel exited Saturday’s contest against Missouri with a shoulder injury late in the second quarter.
Driskel — who was lustily booed all evening and entered the night with a sore ankle — jogged into the locker room with fans cheering, “Let’s go Driskel.”
Driskel split snaps with freshman quarterback Treon Harris, and reentered the game at the beginning of the third quarter.
Before UF’s third-year starter was shaken up on a punishing sack, it was another dismal performance by the junior signal caller.
Driskel was just 4 of 10 for 25 yards before halftime, as UF’s offense remained impotent no matter who was behind center.
Driskel tossed his conference-leading ninth interception, and Gators turned the ball over twice in the first half and totaled just 66 yards.
The Gators were the walking wounded in their loss to LSU, but a number of key players returned from injury Saturday night against Missouri.
All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (concussion) and star tailback Matt Jones (knee, ankle) both started after missing significant action against the Tigers. Hargreaves left the LSU loss early in the second quarter after powerful freshman tailback kneed him in the head on a long run.
Jones, who had both ankles heavily tapped against Mizzou, carried the ball just four times for 11 yards against LSU before watching the second half from the sidelines.
On Saturday, UF’s leading rusher still wasn’t 100 percent, struggling in his return.
Jones fumbled a read-option exchange on the team’s opening drive. Later, he whiffed on a blitz-pickup, causing a strip-sack of Harris.
Meanwhile, starting defensive tackle Leon Orr — Florida’s top interior defensive lineman — played for the first time in three weeks.
The senior missed consecutive games with a slight meniscus tear, and rotated inside with redshirt freshman Caleb Brantley.
Junior receiver Latroy Pittman, who was carted off the field in the waning seconds against LSU, was in uniform but did not start. True freshman C.J. Worton, a standout at South Dade, made his first-career start in the slot, hurling in a four-yard swing pass in the second quarter.
Senior wideout Quinton Dunbar’s 32-game reception streak was snapped in Florida’s loss to LSU, and after three consecutive weeks with crucial drops, the former Miami Booker T. Washington star was benched.
Dunbar didn’t start for the first time since 2012, watching nearly the entire game from the sideline as sophomore Ahmad Fulwood took his place.
Last season, Dunbar registered career-highs in receptions (39) and yards (528), but has struggled in his senior campaign, tallying just five catches for 41 yards since UF’s season-opener.
THIS and THAT
All-American cornerback and 2002 first-round draft pick Lito Sheppard (1999-01) served as Florida’s honorary “Mr. Two Bits.” Sheppard, who was recognized pregame after recently being named a 2014 SEC Legend, was scheduled to serve as “Mr. Two Bits” in the season-opener against Idaho, which was canceled. … Former Florida standouts Dominique Easley (New England Patriots), Frankie Hammond Jr. (Kansas City Chiefs), Trey Burton (Philadelphia Eagles) and Jaylen Watkins (Eagles) watched the game from the sidelines. … Seniors Clay Burton (tight end), Max Garcia (center) and Chaz Green (right tackle), alongside junior linebacker Antonio Morrison, served as UF’s captains.