University of Florida

Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel’s ‘mistakes’ costly

Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel passed for a career-high 291 yards.

He also turned the ball over three times — two interceptions and one fumble.

The red zone was a house of horrors for the junior.

Overall, it was a disappointing performance for UF’s signal-caller, as Driskel played a pivotal role in Florida’s 21-16 loss against Miami at Sun Life Stadium.

“I made a couple mistakes,” Driskel said. “But other than that I played well, but the mistakes were really costly.”

The turnover-riddled performance by Driskel, a pariah to many in the Gator Nation even before Saturday’s showing, was all too familiar for fans who witnessed last season’s 17-9 loss to Georgia.

Against the Hurricanes, Driskel was particularly bad in the red zone.

Early in the second quarter, Miami defensive back Rayshawn Jenkins picked off a pass deep in UM territory — at the 4-yard line — after Driskel threw off his back foot and into triple coverage.

“Just a bad decision,” Driskel said. “It was a dumb play. You can’t throw across your body.”

Late in the fourth quarter — in a 14-9 ballgame — Driskel was intercepted by Canes cornerback Tracy Howard at Miami’s 17-yard line.

In seven trips inside Miami’s 28-yard line, UF scored twice. It was a game of what could have been.

“We outgained them by 200 yards, but that doesn’t win you games,” coach Will Muschamp said. “It’s all about ball security. I thought [Drikel] hit some balls down the field and did some nice things, but you can’t have the turnovers, especially in the red zone. You can’t do that. We can’t make those decisions. We can’t afford to take points off the board in those situations.”

Driskel started his 14th career game Saturday, but the inconsistencies continue to plague him.

“At times, we just need to get rid of the football,” Muschamp said. “You can’t throw into traffic in the red zone. That’s something you cannot do.”

UF failed to convert a fourth-and-short in the first half because Miami stacked the box inside, but Driskel never checked to a different play.

“I think he’s a much better player [than how he played],” Muschamp said.

And he also needs help.

Although Driskel lacks the desired awareness, the junior is a playmaker with little offensive support around him.

Florida’s wideouts struggled to beat press coverage. It’s tight ends and running backs offered little support.

Miami stuffed UF’s prolific rushing attack and Florida’s offensive line pass protected well early but not late.

“Everybody made mistakes,” wideout Solomon Patton said.

Trey Burton, a senior who fumbled in the red zone, called Saturday’s performance the worst game he has every played.

Burton also said he ran the wrong route on Driskel’s second interception.

Ultimately, the red zone woes — by Driskel and teammates — doomed the Gators.

“Those are critical situations. You’re taking points off the board and creating momentum for the other team,” Muschamp said. “End every possession with a kick you’ll win a bunch of games. We didn’t do that.”