As the season evolved, the first real hint of serious trouble occurred in the Kentucky game. I didn't write a column in the aftermath of that game. I got so bent out of shape at the first half ineptitude of Jeff Driskel, that I probably thought I needed to calm myself. I had tremendously high hopes for the season and for Jeff's individual play. Ever since he committed to U.F., all I could see was his tremendous potential. When you look at him, you might think what I definitely thought: this guy should be an absolute beast at quarterback.
But it hasn't happened. He was surprisingly bad in the first half against Kentucky and then played much better in the 2nd half. But the Bama game was always going to be my litmus test for Jeff Driskel.
My column for GatorCountry.com on that game was written on September 22, 2014. Titled Treon the Transcendent: Has His Time Already Arrived?, it reflected my tremendous disappointment with Jeff Driskel in the Bama game. I treated it as a final exam for Jeff, and Jeff failed the final miserably. This is how I opened the column:
As I sat in the scorching hot sun of Bryant-Denny Stadium, up on the second-to-the-last-row (row 30, seat 20, section NN) of the stadium, underneath a beautiful late-summer Alabama sky, I listened to a Florida band piped through the speakers perform Sweet Home Alabama I couldn’t help but think to myself: these sap suckers don’t know what’s about to hit ‘em! We’re gonna have us a game today!
I took video of the scene, and included it in the column:
I then wrote this:
Of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd isn’t just any Florida band. They are probably the most iconic Florida band of all-time and “Free Bird” is for man the signature song of the southern rock genre. Their talent transcended the Southland and launched them to worldwide fame; they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. And Alabama football, of course, isn’t just any other college football program.
So, I settled in to watch what are probably the SEC’s two most iconic programs of the modern era do battle. Two gentlemen from Atlanta happened to sit next to me. Both were cheering for the Gators but one was a UF alumnus and the other one was a season ticket holder of the Michigan Wolverines and a UM alum. As the game began and as a seemingly long first quarter played out (television timeouts, wow!), they joined me in my assessment: We’re gonna have us a game today!
Well, we kinda did and we kinda didn't. Bama embarrassed us. And I focused my anger on Jeff Driskel. I wrote:
There’s no charitable way to critique Jeff on this; all the available evidence demonstrates that Jeff doesn’t know how to command this offense so as to consistently move the chains. For the second SEC game in a row, Jeff’s inefficiency squandered a first half effort that was entirely sufficent to blow out Kentucky and compete with the Crimson Tide (yes, Bama out-schemed us offensively on over the top passes – I give them all the credit for that; 4 plays accounting for 250 yards or so is incredible) but our front seven completely held Bama in check in the first half. But it was hot as hell at that game, and the mathematical certainties clearly caught up with us.
Having failed his final exam, I turned my attention to the most important recruit in our 2014 class, the legendary yet unheralded (how can that be? ) Treon Harris and provided this definition:
adjective; surpassing the ordinary; exceptional.
That defined the young man's high school career. Giving him the complete benefit of the doubt, I did my usual: until prove otherwise that, too, will define his Gator career.
Give him the damn ball, Coach, turn him loose!
So, now I head off to EverBank Field to see if our young, unheralded phenom can do the impossible.
Not just do the impossible, mind you, but do it under impossible circumstances, during an impossible football year for the Fightin' Florida Gators, after surviving a crazy sexual assault allegation that saw him banned from campus and disallowed from participating in a game he likely could have won for us against LSU.
Treon may be transcendent, but is he superhuman too ??? It may take that kind of effort to defeat the hated Georgia Bulldogs today. It's time to lace 'em up and have at it. Go Gators !!!