Time for Brantley step up like his supporting cast

By Adam Silverstein
September 27, 2011

Though he may not be setting the world on fire through the first four games of the 2011 season, Florida Gators redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley is performing quite admirably compared to what fans saw in April’s 2011 Orange & Blue Debut.

As head coach Will Muschamp contended in April and maintains now, Brantely’s performance in that scrimmage was attributed to the fact that the moving parts around him (offensive linemen and playmakers) were struggling and unable to help him out.

The big question heading into September was if Brantley’s supporting cast would be able to step up under the leadership of veteran football mind and new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Muschamp, as of Monday, was pleased to that end.

“We’ve blocked well up front in the run game and in the pass game. We’ve been very consistent. We’ve run the ball well and I think we’ve played well at time outside,” he said. “We got to finish some plays down the field obviously. You tie all those things together. This past ballgame we were able to give our offensive some short fields, which is something that always helps the quarterback obviously. I think it really starts up front. We’ve been able to run the football and we’ve protected the quarterback well.”

Compared to the first four games of 2010, Brantley has thrown for 52 more yards on 28 fewer pass attempts (an average of 2.6 additional yards per attempt) but is still completing 64 percent of his passes and has only four touchdowns this year.

Quarterbacks are supposed to want to throw the deep ball, but Brantley has been charged with being a game manager – taking what the defense gives the offense in order to move the ball down the field. He is perfectly happy with ensuring running backs redshirt senior Chris Rainey and senior Jeff Demps get the ball out of the backfield, especially if they continue to be as productive as they have been through the first four games.

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]“Giving the ball off to Chris and Jeff is the easiest part of the job,” he said Monday. “When they can take it to the house at any moment, [it] makes your job easier.”

With the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide set to face the No. 12 Gators on Saturday, Florida may not be able to rely on its running game as much as it has been. Throwing the ball downfield may become a priority, especially if UF gets behind early.

Muschamp is confident that the Gators will be able to do so when necessary.

“I think you got to be multiple when you play [Alabama]. You can’t be one-dimensional in what you do,” he said. “A lot of our offense has been attributed to the fact, in our first four games, three of them were in-hand by halftime. We ran the ball in order to end the game as opposed to what a lot of schools go out and throw the ball 30 times in the second half. They say, ‘Well they averaged 300 yards in the passing game.’ That’s great but that’s not really what you’re trying to do to win football games.

“John’s going to be able to throw the football. John’s outstanding. He’s played very well for us, and I’m very pleased with his progress and what he’s done and what we’ve done in the throwing game and what we’ve asked our football team to do on tape so far on Saturday. What I see in practice is a very productive passing attack.”

Brantley appears to share that mentality, but whether or not he will succeed in that mission is one of the biggest questions surrounding Florida heading into Saturday’s tilt.

“Any time we can throw the ball downfield, we will,” he said.

The Gators may be forced to do just that sooner than later.[/EXPAND]

23 Comments

  1. cline says:

    We need everyone to step up in a team effort.

  2. Aligator says:

    I feel like he is going to have a very tough game against ALA and LSU as he is not that good, staring straight at people and he is depending on too many other people to get the job done. Chances are Rainey and Demps will not run all over these next two teams and his ineffectiveness will shine. I hate to say it ….

    • SC Gator says:

      I’m still more worried about the wide receivers, such as they are. It’s a bit chicken-egg to question who is worse, him or them, but we’ve seen them fail to do much even when given the opportunity.

  3. Aligator says:

    I was around when Shane Mathews was here and he was as laid back, but for whatever reason, he could throw lights out.

  4. Aligator says:

    By the way, I think that that briskett kid will transfer after this spring …. just saying. it is clear that Weis likes the number two we have and sees a lot of potential in him….

  5. Joe says:

    In defense of Brantley: From what I’ve seen, he reads through his progressions and does a good job of not staring down receivers. Weis is not going to put him out there against ALA and LSU without having him ready to read through his progressions and dump off to Rainey or Demps. That’s been the key to our offense all season.

    Brantley will need to be quick in making his mind up when throwing down field and just believe in his ability to place the ball in the right spots. What Brantley most certainly can’t do is continue to place the ball behind his receivers. This slight inaccuracy will turn into tipped passes and subsequent interceptions against LSU and ALA.

    Beyond that, both games will be decided in the trenches (run stopping and pass protection).

    • Aligator says:

      this is his progression … oh my first receiver is not open right away, deonte dingdong fingers is not open, so i will throw it out to the flat and let chris or jeff run it for me. That is his progression …

  6. g8ter27 says:

    Please prove me wrong this weekend JB, but you do stare down receivers and still seem to resort to others doing the work instead of you making the plays. Either we have the absolute worst receivers in the NCAA, we play the best dbs in the nation week in and week out, OR JB cannot see down field to find a receiver and always checks down to the back. That won’t work this week or next unless we have a true threat down filed. Man I hope I am wrong, will be the first to admit it if so, please let me be wrong and JB throw for 400 yards, but as Aligator states…I hate to say it.

    • Aligator says:

      like i said, first not open, dingdong fingers not open, dump it off to chris or jeff. i hope them dudes cant outrun some of the bama defenders ….

      • Ken (CA) says:

        ali – have you ever posted a positive comment about anything here? everytime i see a post by you it is negative.

        Brantley is a very good QB, had a tough situation last year. what is wrong with dumping it to rainey or demps in the flat when they are getting you 10-20+ yds doing it? That is significantly safer than throwing it deep downfield, and much higher percentage. He has stretched the field a number of times this year, including the TD pass against Kentucky after the fumble. Weis and Boom both have complete confidence in him and he has done everything they have asked as well as become the true leader of the offense.

        Yes, the next 2 weeks will be a huge challenge, but we do have a lot of weapons, and I think the onus will fall far more on our defense than our offense in the next 2 weeks. Pressure their QBs, win the trenches, and defensive backfield has to be solid without penalties.

        Adam, what is the status of Debose and more importantly Jalapio?

  7. Joe says:

    If #1 and #2 options are covered, then the correct read is the dump off. I guess in your analysis he should just hold the ball and take a sack or throw to a covered receiver and be intercepted. A WR’s job is to get open. The QB throw’s when there is enough separation to make the completion.

    BTW…

    Gerald Christian caught a TD pass last game on a seam route (perfect read by Brantley) and Frankie Hammond had some great catches for first downs (thrown by Brantley).

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I agree with you Joe. for whatever reason, our receivers have been unable to get separation from defenders on a regular basis so far. As such it makes no sense to force the ball. We have been very prolific and efficient on offense so far, and Weis and Boom both preach, take what the defense gives you. If that continues (and we cut down on silly turnovers), we should have a strong showing against bama and LSU both

    • Jesse says:

      I agree with you for the most part Joe. But there are passing plays that require timing and touch on the QB’s part. I think Brantley is very accurate between 8-15 yards from LOS but aside from the most beautiful pass of his career to Christian last game, Brantley can not throw the long ball. It is almost always underthrown and fortunately, we haven’t played against anyone with a secondary worth a damn so it hasn’t hurt us (less the two INT’s). I hope with the return of Reed and Debose and the emergence of Hammond and Christian, we will be able to use the short passing game effectively to move the ball downfield and set up the run. I want to see two TE sets.

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