It’s been a seesaw battle for Louisiana Tech quarterback Jeff Driskel.
A former Gatorade Florida Player of the Year in 2010, Driskel built off of his high school résumé and won the hearts of Florida Gators fans once he was named the starter in 2012; he followed up by leading his team to a Sugar Bowl berth and 11 victories.
A fibula injury in 2013 and inconsistent play in 2014–which led to a swapping of starting quarterbacks–had fans growing restless of Driskel and the Florida offense as a whole.
Luckily for Driskel, the slate has been wiped clean for 2015, as he earned a fifth year of eligibility as a graduate transfer. He’ll be suited up as Louisiana Tech’s starter once the Bulldogs kickoff the season in September, and here’s why he can bounce back from his previous collapse in Gainesville.
In previewing Louisiana Tech for 2015, I mentioned that fans should be hesitant to turn their cheek for Driskel’s arrival. Sure, he’s endured his share of downs and might not be entering play on a high note, but having a starting quarterback that’s been prone to preparing for SEC defenses could realistically turn into a cakewalk.
Conference USA isn’t hell bent on defensive powerhouses, and Driskel’s had a ton of success versus Group of Five opponents in the past. Since 2012, he’s been flawless on both the win-loss column and the stat sheet, earning six wins in as many tries, while throwing six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
You can claim that there lies some variables with perhaps a weaker line on Louisiana Tech’s side, but Driskel rarely had playmakers to help him out anyway while at Florida.
Outside of wide receiver Andre Debose and running back Mike Gillislee, nobody stepped up, and now the Gators are scurrying around in search for an offense while Driskel has an opportunity to nab a conference championship.
Louisiana Tech possesses some underrated talent on the outside with wide receivers Carlos Henderson and Trent Taylor. While Henderson is titled as the home run hitter (he averaged 19.6 yards per catch in 2014), the latter remains a nice security blanket for Driskel. Taylor enjoyed a nice breakout season last year with 64 catches, 834 yards and nine scores.
And let’s not forget about Kenneth Dixon, who should shatter more Louisiana Tech running back records in 2015, given there is room. The pieces are gradually compiling nicely for the Bulldogs on offense, as they have a superb shot at lighting it up with their elite athletes. It shouldn’t be all about Marshall and Western Kentucky in 2015.
Despite Driskel’s past accolades, all eyes continue to be fixated on Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty. Nearly surpassing the 5,000-yard mark in 2014, I’m sure it’s in the back of Driskel’s mind that he’ll own the spotlight after venturing in from a prestigious SEC program.
I’m not going to be making any sort of prediction that Driskel can account for more passing yards than Doughty, but don’t think that this shouldn’t light a fire for Louisiana Tech’s new starter.
Given the factors and intangibles, Jeff Driskel has an opportunity to wipe his plate clean down in Ruston, Louisiana.