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Florida vs. FAU: Expect only a cameo from Jason Driskel, the prodigal son's brother

His narrative import will likely exceed his on-field impact.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Don't expect to see Jason Driskel take the field more than briefly for Florida Atlantic on Saturday, when the Owls come to Gainesville to play Florida, and make 2015 the fifth straight year in which a quarterback from the family has been part of a game in The Swamp.

But do expect him to be discussed.

Jeff's younger brother — who committed to FAU when Carl Pelini was still the Owls' head coach — has been used sparingly this season since a poor performance (14-for-31 passing for 203 yards and an interception) against Marshall in October. While Driskel has thrown a pass in all but three Owls games in 2015, he's thrown 30-plus in three appearances, and 15 in five others.

Junior Jaquez Johnson, instead, is FAU's starter. And he's been ... okay. For the year, he's completed 54.8 percent of his passes, for 1,356 yards and eight touchdowns against four interceptions. (His greatest crime? Wearing No. 32, which is a touching tribute but an affront to the eyes.)

Yet Driskel's been worse. He's completed 51.1 percent of his passes for 854 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions. Even his best game, a 386-yard, two touchdown performance against Buffalo, required 55 throws, a new school record, and featured only 26 completions.

Factor in an interception from wide receiver Tony Thomas, and the Owls have posted a poor 116.92 passer rating to date; that ranks an even No. 100 nationally. Florida's had great success against bad passing games, too: South Carolina, New Mexico State, Kentucky, Missouri, and Vanderbilt all rank No. 98 or worse in passer rating, and Florida's allowed three touchdowns through the air to that bunch while snagging seven interceptions. None of those schools threw for more than 180 yards on the Gators, which South Carolina posted while also notching 7.2 yards per attempt.

All of that is to say this: Jason Driskel will probably not beat Florida on Saturday. But he will play at some point — he's played at least one series in every Owls game since October 17 — and he will surely be a part of the game's narrative.

The younger Driskel is downplaying that narrative, though.

"I think I'm going to have butterflies the same as I do every week until I play," said Driskel, the Owls' backup quarterback. "I've always been like that since I started playing football. It takes one play to be in the rhythm of the game and that's what it will take in this game, too."


"I think that I won't be thinking about my brother at all because, why would I?" Jason said. "He's not on their team. We're playing (Florida) and it just happens that he played there before."

And FAU head coach Charlie Partridge is quick to dismiss it, too.

"He's definitely earned the possibility to get more time this week," Partridge said. "It's definitely not about the Jeff Driskel story line. It's more about the fact that (Jason's) earned the chance to play a little more."

Taking snaps on the same field where Gator fans ruthlessly jeered his brother could prove emotional for Jason. Partridge said he intends to talk with Jason during the week about controlling those emotions.

""He'll smile as soon as I sit down and I know what his reaction will be," Partridge said. "He'll say, 'Coach, I'm good.'"

Whether Florida fans will care enough to boo (or cheer) the younger Driskel remains to be seen. The talk about Jeff, having a scintillating season at Louisiana Tech (62.1 percent completion rate, 3,039 yards, and 19 touchdowns to five picks), has died down as Florida has rebounded, with ire receding and joy rising.

But the idea of Jason Driskel coming back to Jeff's old stomping grounds is an easy one to linger on. And this game is a noon game. And easy narratives and noon games go together like peanut butter and jelly in Jim McElwain's sandwiches.

So get ready.