Whether you like it or not, Gator fans, quarterback John Brantley has opted against transferring and will remain at Florida for his senior season.
The oft-criticized Brantley had one of the worst seasons for a quarterback in the Orange and Blue in quite some time. He completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,061 yards, nine TD and 10 Int. He also finished the year with two receptions for minus five yards and one TD.
To be fair, Brantley shouldn’t suffer all of the blame for this miserable season. Former head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio share the blame as well. For the offseason, all Gator fans heard was the offense was being tweaked around Brantley’s strengths and the offense would be similar to offense ran in 2006. Fans also heard talk of Brantley having a better arm than Tim Tebow. Therefore, he would be a better pro prospect. Well folks, both of these turned out to be lies.
The last time rotating was truly done at Florida was Noah Brindise/Doug Johnson circa 1997. The ‘Ole Ball Coach actually rotated redshirt freshman Rex Grossman, true freshman Brock Berlin and senior Jesse Palmer in the first couple of games in the 2000 season. But I have never seen anything quite like this season in which three quarterbacks were rotated throughout the season.
There’s a reason fans haven’t seen a three-quarterback rotation. It’s because it ruins the timing of the quarterback. In Brantley’s defense, Jordan Reed and Trey Burton took snaps on the first downs, and he was sent in on 3rd-and-longs. Obviously the defense pinned their ears back on 3rd-and-long and was able to effectively blitz him.
Also, where was the tweaking of the offense? There was talk Florida would return to the ill-fated “Bonzai” attack that Addazio implemented in the offense in 2009. The “Bonzai” offense is supposed to mirror the up-tempo, no-huddle attack used at Oklahoma during the Sam Bradford era. Coaches explained it didn’t really work out, because Tebow was a guy that liked to use a huddle on offense. Fair enough. Why wasn’t this run in 2010?
Granted, I criticized the decision to use an offensive scheme that was shut down by the Gators in the 2008 National Championship, but after watching the debacle of the offense in 2010, it should have been run to tailor Brantley’s throwing ability.
Everyone knows Brantley is not an option-style quarterback. Therefore, why run him? As a defender, if I see him running the football and Jeff Demps is a possible pitch man, I’d run at Demps and force Brantley to keep the football. Another fine example of lousy coaching.
Not only did Addazio call the plays, but he coached the offensive line as well. The name is fitting because the O-line was downright offensive all season. They created no running lanes for the backs, were inconsistent in pass protection and were the cause of Demps’ foot injury when a Gator offensive lineman stepped on it in the win over Tennessee in September. Guys were rotated from right tackle to left guard, left tackle to right guard, etc.
Addazio said he wanted versatility in his line. In the end, he had a unit that looked lost and got whipped on every play. Thinking back to their games, how many times do you see offensive linemen on the ground for the Gators? How in the world can offensive linemen block while lying flat on the ground?
I remember reading an article that discussed Maurkice and Mike Pouncey a few months ago. The article explained how Maurkice was sure lock for the first round in last year’s draft because of his versatility at center. Mike was told playing center would help his stock. So, he wants to play center his senior year. This appeared to serve as a catalyst for moving Pouncey to center.
In my opinion, the coaches deserved to give him a chance to play center, but he should have moved back to guard after the fiasco of the season opener against Miami-Ohio. Coaches raved about redshirt sophomore Sam Robey’s potential in 2009, but he rides the pine in 2010. Again, this displays poor coaching.
Although Pouncey did do a better job with his snaps after the first game, he had several poor snaps over the course of the season. He simply should have played guard this year. There is no reason in the world to not play Robey at center. If anything, the unit might have played better with Pouncey at his natural position, and Robey delivering clean snaps in his customary position. Plus, Robey and Brantley had eligibility remaining. This would’ve allowed for them to build their chemistry in regular season games.
Don’t get me wrong. Brantley certainly gets his share of the blame as well. Brantley had many head-scratching moments this year. Who can forget Brantley catching his own deflected pass against South Carolina to lose 10 yards, effectively stalling Florida’s drive after forcing a 2nd-and-20 from their own 40?
Remember his two costly picks against Alabama. Pass protection wasn’t bad, but instead of setting his feet, he fades away and throws to costly picks in Tuscaloosa, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
How can you forget Florida’s final drive in the first half against Florida State. With the Gators down 24-7 in the first half, the offense finally put a nice drive together. Jordan Reed drove the Gators to Florida State’s 20-yard line. In comes Brantley, who proceeds to kill the drive with a momentum-killing interception. What about Brantley’s first throw in the Outback Bowl against Penn State? Florida gets the ball at midfield, and Brantley’s pass kills momentum as he’s picked off.
Maybe a fresh start is what the Ocala native needs. If so, that fresh start is named Will Muschamp. From the sound of things, the clinching factor in Brantley’s decision to stay is Muschamp implementing a pro-style attack in the offense. Brantley played in a pro-style system in current Jacksonville University coach Kerwin Bell’s offense in high school.
If Brantley wins the starting job next season, it’ll be sink or swim time for him. No more excuses. He’ll have the tools to succeed. A quarterback coach/offensive coordinator (Charlie Weis) with NFL and college experience, and a move to an offense that will suit his strengths. We’ll finally see if he delivers the promise he had as a highly touted recruit in 2007 or becomes a recruiting bust.
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