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October 7, 2011

True frosh QB likely to start for fifth time in UF history




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No. 17 Florida will travel to Baton Rouge to take on No. 1 LSU on Saturday without its starting quarterback. With senior John Brantley ruled out for the game, true freshman Jeff Driskel was next in line to start.

The coaching staff said Driskel was the frontrunner to get the nod, but they also opened up the job in practice this week, saying whichever quarterback performed best would play against the Tigers. True freshman Jacoby Brissett was named the No. 2 this week, making it likely that a true freshman will start against the top team in the nation, though redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy is also in the mix.

Only four true freshmen have ever started a game at quarterback for UF -- Wayne Peace (1980), Donald Douglas (1989), Jesse Palmer (1997) and Chris Leak (2003). They went a combined 13-9 in their 22 starts.

Here is how each of them did in their first career starts:

Peace: 4-for-10 for 66 yards in a 15-3 win on the road against Ole Miss.

Douglas: 1-for-5 for 6 yards in a 10-7 loss on the road against Auburn.

Palmer: 8-for-14 for 92 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-10 win on the road against Auburn.

Leak: 20-for-35 for 268 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 24-21 win on the road against Kentucky.

Coincidentally, all four of these true freshmen made their first start away from Gainesville, a trend that will continue when and if Driskel or Brissett starts this weekend.

This would be only the third time a true freshman quarterback has played for UF against the No. 1 ranked team in the country, and the first time one has started. The other two were Tim Tebow in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game against Ohio State and Trey Burton last season against Alabama.

The highest ranked team ever beaten by UF while starting a true freshman at quarterback was No. 4 Georgia in 2003, when Leak led the Gators to a 16-14 win over the Bulldogs. Earlier that season, Leak led UF to a 19-7 win over No. 6 LSU in Baton Rouge. Florida head coach Will Muschamp was LSU's defensive coordinator at the time.

Muschamp will be hoping history repeats itself this weekend with Driskel or Brissett leading the Gators to an upset road victory over the Tigers. Only this time, he'll be on the winning sideline.

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