"Florida is the most underrated team in the country right now," Danielson said Thursday when preempting the matchup between Florida and Tennessee to air Saturday on CBS. "They are an elite team that turned the ball over. That can happen to any team in any football game. Florida dominated the game and should have won."
Danielson understands the frustration that gators fans have with the program right now, but says things should get better and folks need to realize that all programs are not made alike. However, he does point out some issues on the roster that don't seem to have been answered just yet.
"The Florida fan is used to Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer moving the ball around the field and being strong offensively," Danielson said. "When you coach from a different perspective like Will Muschamp, where he's building his team on toughness, strength and line of scrimmage dominance, you are going to have to answer those questions when you lose a game and it doesn't look that way to the fan. With that said, there are some shocking parts of this Florida team. There is a lack of talent at the wide receiver position. And for the Florida fan, that's hard to figure out. Muschamp's had three recruiting classes and they have not been able to find a player that makes their offense elite.
Paramount to Florida's success is the play at quarterback. Florida's junior signal caller Jeff Driskel was lauded plenty in the offseason, but has yet to really take the reins of this team and do something special with it. Danielson said that Driskel has the opportunity to be a key in all of the conference standings this year. The talent is there, but he has to do more with it.
"Going into this season I felt Jeff Driskel was the key player in the Southeastern Conference, the one unknown in the conference at the most important position," Danielson said. "We knew what Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger, Johnny Manziel, A.J. McCarron and Connor Shaw were going to be this year. But if Driskel didn't step up his game, it was hard to figure how Florida was going to be able to stay up with those other teams.
Could Florida take a big step this week? A strong offensive performance from this Gator squad could lead to a better feeling for the Gator Nation.
"This week is critical for Florida," Danielson said. "They played really well against Miami. Driskel didn't have his greatest game. And the Florida fans expect more from their quarterback position. They are very restless. In this league you get a little patience but not a lot of time."
Danielson knows that head coach Butch Jones has a lot of work ahead of him at Tennessee.
"Tennessee just doesn't match up in the talent department anymore," he said. " They don't' have the talent level to compete with the top teams in this conference or top teams in other conferences."
The key to the game according to Danielson is that Tennessee has to be able to run the ball effectively to have a chance.
"In the seven years that I've done this game, the match-up has always been the same problem for Tennessee," he said. "The Volunteers head into this game needing to find a way to protect their quarterback. And if it becomes a game where Tennessee depends on their quarterback to win it, like Texas A&M had to depend on Manziel, they don't have a chance. They have to run the ball. They have a veteran offensive line and have to convince Florida that they are at least a threat running the ball."