After two weeks on the shelf, it appears as if redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley is on track to return for the Florida Gators as they take on the Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
During his weekly press conference on Monday, Florida head coach Will Muschamp declared Brantley “probable” for the game, noting that rehabilitation from his ankle injury is going well and that the team does not expect any setbacks when he officially returns to practice this week.
“He will practice [Monday] in a limited role. We feel like John will be ready to go for the game,” Muschamp said. “As we progress through the week, we will know more about his status, but we plan on him practicing today.”
The Gators’ offense is in dire need of a boost. Since Brantley went down with a high ankle sprain one month ago, Florida has been outscored 72-17.
Muschamp said Monday that Brantley was able to throw the ball during the bye week as part of his rehab, but he did not technically practice with the team.
“He didn’t necessarily practice, but through his rehab with the ankle – doing some drops and some different things – he did throw some there on the practice field,” he noted. “As far as partaking in practice, he didn’t do any, but he was on the practice field, did some throwing motion stuff and worked on a couple drops here and there just to see how the ankle took and how it felt the next day.
“I’m very pleased with his progress. He’s worked extremely hard to get back.”
Prior to his injury four weeks ago at home against Alabama, Brantley was arguably playing the best he has as a starter at this point in his career. He was 11/16 for 190 yards with a 65-yard touchdown in the game; however, he also through a pick-six early in the second quarter that put Florida behind 17-10.
“On third-down conversions, I think we had two dropped passes that would have been conversions for third downs. He had hit some deep balls and was really playing very well, managing our team, getting us in-and-out of the right runs. If you look at the first four ballgames, he certainly played very well. Getting him back is going to be a huge psychological shock for our football team; I really believe that.”
With Brantley set to return as the starter, the two freshman quarterbacks previously competing for playing time in his stead will now fight for the backup job.
Jeff Driskel, who also injured his ankle when he replaced Brantley during the Alabama game, missed the following contest but started the second half against Auburn on Oct. 15. Jacoby Brissett saw the field for the first time in his college career as a starter at LSU on Oct. 8 and held that job during the first half of the Auburn game.
Driskel was 9/18 for 75 yards versus Auburn, while Brissett’s combined line was 13/24 for 139 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions over six quarters.
Muschamp said that both Driskel and Brissett will get reps on Monday considering Brantley will be worked back slowly.
He does not expect to make a decision on the No. 2 quarterback until the end of the week but said he was pleased with how both players performed during the bye.
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