Weis not tipping hand on Gators’ starting QB

By Adam Silverstein
October 4, 2011

The position of quarterback is one that demands stability, and the Florida Gators had that this season until redshirt senior John Brantley went down with a high-ankle sprain on Saturday against the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide. Set to square off against their second top-ranked opponent in as many weeks, Florida goes into their game against the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers uncertain who will be under center on the first series.

Speaking with the media on Tuesday, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis refused to indicate who that might be, even though freshman Jeff Driskel has been the second-string quarterback all season long up to this point.

“I can tell you, but I’d have to shoot you,” Weis said jokingly. “We don’t know yet. We’re practicing as the head coach has already previously told you. Brantley’s out and we’re practicing the other three guys. By the end of the week, we’ll decide who the starter is.”

Aside from Driskel, Florida has redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and freshman Jacoby Brissett on the roster. Whoever Weis chooses will be tasked with starting the first college game of their young career, a big step up from starting in high school.

“The first thing they have to realize is…you were the star in high school and it came easy for you. Now there’s 90,000 people every week when you go to play,” he said. “The stage is the first thing you got to get used to. It’s a different set of circumstances. A lot more people involved and a lot more pressure involved [and you’re playing] against better athletes. With every young quarterback, every play they’re out there, he’s getting more experience, which only makes him better in the long run.”

Weis said he will “objectively” pick his starter for Saturday but admitted that Driskel “has obviously got the upper hand because he has played and the other guys really haven’t played meaningful football yet.” However, all three are getting reps early in the week and Weis anticipates each to succeed in his own way.

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No matter who eventually wins the battle, Weis is much more confident in being able to create a game plan for a back-up given a week to prepare rather than having to scrap one in the middle of a game and start from scratch.

“I feel a lot better now than I would have doing it last week in the game. You devise a game plan really around John, and when John goes down, you have to cut back in what you’re doing,” he said. “Now at least knowing that John is out for this week, you can devise a game plan around less experienced guys rather than more experienced guys.

“The best thing for this week versus last week is everything’s being tailor made around these guys. You don’t add more, you cut back so you get used to doing the things that they feel comfortable doing. You don’t expose them to as much material, which gives them a lot more confidence.”

Weis was also quick to point out that replacing Brantley is not a one-man job. The entire team will have to step up to fill the void created by their signal caller’s untimely injury.

“Everyone knows that part of their responsibility with Brantley out is everyone, on both sides of the ball and on special teams, has to pick up some of the slack,” he said. “There isn’t one guy that picks it up. It isn’t the backup quarterback coming in alone that picks up the slack. It’s everyone that has got to kind of pick up the slack.

“We can’t lose the line of scrimmage. [If] we lose the line of scrimmage Saturday afternoon, we’ll be in for a long day. It starts there with making sure that you don’t go get roughed up. If you control the line of scrimmage with the players we have on offense, I like to think that will give us a legitimate chance.”

In a hostile environment against a tough opponent trying to fight back after a disappointing showing at home one week earlier, chances are the Gators will have plenty to worry about on Saturday in addition to their quarterback situation.[/EXPAND]

8 Comments

  1. gatormiami says:

    Good job Weis! You’ve wetnursed Brantley all year… building him up & reassuring him. Now with Johnny out, we’re gonna open up the battle for QB, sharing the reps in practice & showing no confidence in Driskel. MAKES A LOT OF SENSE…. RIGHT?

    • goldengator says:

      Weis did a fantastic job building Brantley up and it showed until he was hurt. Lets give the man some credit, he knows more about this game than we do.
      Also, he said he could tell us who the starter would be, but wouldn’t. Maybe, just maybe, this is some media misdirection and Florida is trying to keep LSU on their toes. Or, maybe he is trying to get others reps because they haven’t had many and might have to play. Whatever his reasons, they’re probably sound and there’s certainly more in the background than we’re being told. Have faith in your team and don’t go making a fireChamp website or jumping off a cliff just yet…

  2. Gatorbuck says:

    Yeah, what does Charlie know about coaching offenses or developing QB’s??
    He’s playing with the hand he was dealt, and JB looked great in the first half until injured. Yeah, a few mistakes but what QB is perfect? And Bama’s D isn’t too shabby.
    Driskel has been brought along slowly, as have the other frosh QBs. Natural progression that will now have to be accelerated. Tough task, but sure like CW over any other options to lead the charge.
    Go Gators!

  3. cline says:

    We need the running game to step up

  4. aziatic41 says:

    I think we need to play Mike Gillislee more at running back. He’s physical and bigger and has had some good runs this year. Was surprised he didn’t get any carries early against Alabama. Trey Burton is a decent runner but he is more of an H-back. Also, Tyler Murphy had a pretty good game back in the spring and he’s seen more than Driskel and Brissett, being a redshirt freshman. Murphy has escapability and is a good athlete and is probably the better runner out the three. But with all of our guys so similar skill wise, I would have to think Weis will probably run a lot roll out pass plays and mix things up with different formations such as wildcat and some trick plays here and there.

    Remember, Weis is built for situations like this. When he was at New England remember Bledsoe went down for the Patriots and Weis game planned and developed a guy by the name of Tom Brady, who by the way now happens to be one of the best qbs in the NFL. So lets hope he can do the same with Driskel or whoever.

    Our defense is going to have to step it up for us to win this game though. The d-line is gonna need to get penetration, linebackers are going to have to be more active, and the secondary is going to have to tackle better. Also, have Pop Saunders back this week will help as far as tackling in the secondary. LSU’s qb play can be shaky sometimes so if we can confuse and pressure Jarrett Lee and Jefferson, that will disrupt their offense. But were going to have to stop the run most of all..

    • scooterp says:

      Agree with aziatic! LSU offense can be inconsistant – they can rip off 70 yards on a big play for a TD, then go 3 in out on the next series and look ugly doing it. Their whole identity is tenacious and stingy defense. Bama plays methodical, run it down your throat, mistake free football – hardly describes LSU. If our defense steps up this game, it could be a frustrating game for Lee/Jefferson…………….. Then agin, it could be for our QBs as well. I’m not going out on a limb, again. LSU 27 UF 16.

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