CFN SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UF's Spring
All eyes on Brantley
All eyes on Brantley
Posted Mar 22, 2011

With spring ball kicking in, we start rolling out analysis from each team's off-season sessions. Check it out as CFN's SEC Bloggers give you five different perspectives on some key questions facing the Florida football team this spring. Who's more important: Muschamp or Weis? What position is undergoing the biggest overhaul, and are the Gators really #2 to the OBC (and South Carolina)?

SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On USC's Spring, March 16, 2011
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On Hogs' Spring, March 15, 2011
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On LSU's Spring, March 11, 2011
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UGA's Spring, March 9, 2011
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On MSU's Spring, March 6, 2011

Brian Harbach: On what Charlie Weis means for John Brantley

Redemption comes in many forms... Sometimes it can be a tarnished former Notre Dame Head Coach who is looking for a second chance in college football.

John Brantley's first season as the starter was a disaster from the get go, and never got better. It wasn't the pressure replacing Tim Tebow. It wasn't the new center. And it certainly wasn't because he is a bad quarterback.

Urban Meyer did such a poor job with Brantley last year it was impossible for the latter to succeed. Now in comes Weis like a prince on a white horse - sorta - who was a mess as a head coach but usually does well with an offensive scheme. Add in the fact that Brantley is a drop back passer and not a classic spread QB, and 2011 could be the season Gator fans expected from Brantley in 2010.

Brantley is an accurate, rhythm passer, which just happens to be exactly what Weis' offense looks for at quarterback. This means that Weis is Brantley's second shot in college, as much as Florida is Weis'. And truthfully, it's Brantley's last real shot at the NFL. If Brantley can't get the job done in this offense, he isn't going to have a future much of anywhere - especially with Jeff Driskel sitting on the sideline waiting to play now.

Will Muschamp's OC hire could not have been a better choice for John; he will be put in a good position to succeed (unlike last year). At that point, it will be up to him.

Russ Mitchell: On what position is undergoing the biggest overhaul

The easy answer here is safety, as the Gators must replace both Ahmad Black and Will Hill, who are off to the NFL. However, we're going outside the box in choosing quarterback.

First, don't assume for a Andre Debose second that Brantley will be your starter come September. Muschamp knows this is his honeymoon year, and true freshman-to-be Jeff Driskel is on campus and already competing.

The thinking goes that given Brantley's struggles and the aforementioned honeymoon (you only get one year in this conference, if that), would the new head coach be better off getting Driskel some experience now, vs. bringing him in raw in 2012?

Then you've got backups Trey Burton and Jordan Reed moving to running back and tight end, respectively. Maybe.

Sounds solid.

Then there's an entirely new scheme to digest; and when they call this one a pro-style offense, the operative word is "pro" - thanks to the edition of Weis.

While we're here, the offensive line must learn that new scheme as well - and these are the same fellas that are otherwise occupied protecting said quarterback. Which they struggled doing at times in 2010 (bottom half in the nation at nearly 2 sacks allowed per game).

Gabe Harris: On who's more important to this Florida team, Weis or Muschamp

Beginning this spring, Florida is making a sea change in its offensive philosophy with the hiring of Weis as offensive coordinator.

They say change is good, but the Gators have gone from pass happy under Steve Spurrier to the spread under Urban Meyer, and now to the pro-style under Muschamp (we're purposefully omitting the Ron Zook years, to be kind). Weis is a big name with a lot of big rings - plus a lot of other big things to go with those rings. We're thinking ideas, not ego - but that too. This will have a huge impact on the program.

Another change is the salary structure, with the assistant coaches now making more money than has ever been offered at Florida. The money's there, but it's noteworthy.

Combine all of that with the fact that Muschamp is making far less than Meyer, and you suddenly have the makings of a clearly defined offensive and defensive structure. Maybe. While that might be true to a certain extent, this is still Muschamp's team, and they will be made in his image. For all of the former NFL assistants he's hired, it's still youthful enthusiasm and the brand name recognition of the University of Florida that will get recruits to sign on the dotted line.

Perhaps Weis does settle in Gainesville and he and Muschamp can make beautiful music together... but who really knows, considering they had never met before talking about said OC job. Or more likely, the offensive "genius" eventually takes his show back on the road.

Regardless, absent a complete collapse there is little doubt that Muschamp will still have the corner office in five years, and that is what matters to the Gator football machine.

Barrett Sallee: On what player needs to stand out this spring

This one's easy - it's quarterback John Brantley.

Brantley came into 2010 as "the next big thing" in Gainesville. But thanks to mediocre play on the field, and even worse play-calling from former offensive coordinator Steve Addazio in the booth, Brantley became more of a punchline than a quarterback. With offensive guru Weis now calling the shots, Brantley is set up for a big-time resurgence in 2011.

Of course, that's IF he doesn't let 2010 beat him down twice.

Florida's transition from the spread to the pro-style won't be easy. However, if Brantley can get a decent running game (they sell them on eBay) and rely on the Gators' abundance of receiving threats, he is fully capable of leading this team back to Atlanta in the wide-open SEC East.

One thing is certain - with Weis calling the shots, Brantley won't be the "designated third down" passing quarterback this season, as he was in 2010.

Russ Mitchell: On are the Gators #2 to South Carolina, really

Come on, are you surprised by this?

SC has most of their key offensive starters returning from last year (if you're still calling Party Boy Garcia a starter), along with a very good coaching staff. The Gators? They must adjust to a bevy of new (if experienced) coaches.

However, those new coaches can hardly be called an upgrade - at best, you're hoping for things to keep going well. And that has to happen while everyone adjusts to a new pro-style offense and changes on defense (a 3-4 scheme, to "go along with" the incumbent 4-3). No new playbooks to digest in Columbia.

Florida's undecided at quarterback between Brantley and Driskel. SC is - well, we'll just call that one even.

Florida's running backs can't stay healthy or out of prison, and their wide receivers are getting eaten alive in drills so far this week (don't take our word for it, follow the jump - and watch the whole 1:54). SC has Lattimore and Alshon, plus. Edge: don't be an idiot.

Then on defense, there's the aforementioned scheme change. (Note to Reader - when a new head coach says he's going to "mix in" some additional schemes, that's coach-speak for "get ready to adopt my new scheme"). The Gators really only have one true 3-4 nose tackle, and that's 5'11"/290 lb. junior Omar Hunter. Expect frosh Leon Orr to make a big splash this spring - as one can do when one weights 330+ (6'5").

But it's not in the same ballpark as the D-line the Gamecocks will play on Saturdays. Put another way - SC landed the consensus #1 prep player in the nation in DE Javon Clowney, and there's a high probability the uber-frosh will see limited playing time behind a line that's good and experienced. He'll certainly be behind 1st team All-SEC Devin Taylor and senior Melvin Ingram.

The Gators only head-to-head advantage may come in the secondary, given the surprising return of senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins and the equally surprising disappointment that was the 2010 Gamecock pass defense. However, it remains to be seen how the Gators bounce from losing both of their talented safeties to the NFL (Ahmad Black and Will Hill).

Oh yeah, and the game's in Williams-Brice Stadium this season.

Just a little dose of reality for Gator Nation.

Please follow Russ Mitchell on Twitter @russmitchellsec, Brian Harbach @harbabd and Barrett Sallee @barrettsallee.

SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On USC's Spring, March 16, 2011
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On Hogs' Spring, March 15, 2011
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On LSU's Spring, March 11, 2011
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UGA's Spring, March 9, 2011
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On MSU's Spring, March 6, 2011

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