Published October 27, 2011 - 7:24am
NEW: Discuss this topic in the Google+ community for SEC fans.
John Brantley has been out almost a month now for Florida, and the Florida faithful are certainly glad to see him back in the lineup against Georgia. It almost seems like he’s been gone the entire year, and Florida has played two seasons this year – with Brantley and without.
Both Will Muschamp and Charlie Weis have stated that Brantley will return this weekend against Georgia unless something “unforeseen” takes place in practice this week to Brantley. In other words – he will play.
Last year at this time, the thought of John Brantley not on offense was a pleasant thought; however, Florida fans were wanting Brantley back weeks ago since Jeff Driskel took over in the second half against Alabama.
Florida’s offense was coasting with Brantley in the lineup. The 2011 Brantley was making quicker reads and better decisions with the football than a year ago. Weis was simplifying the offense for him by running virtually the same play in several different formations. He showed improvement from game one all the way through the half at Alabama.
In the 4.5 games Brantley played this season, the Gators’ offense averaged 448 yards per game and 38 points per game. Florida was running play action and having better success in both the running department and passing department.
Tailback Chris Rainey was very potent with Brantley at quarterback as well. He was carrying the ball for more yards per touch, and he was a huge asset in the receiving game as well.
This offense is atrocious without him in the lineup. The Gators averaged a measily 187 yards per game on offense, and only averaging 6.8 points per game. The Gators were shut out in the second half against Alabama, and they only scored 11 points against LSU and 6 against Auburn.
Without Brantley, the Gators have reverted back to the 2010 Gators by having both a “throwing quarterback” – Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett – and a Wildcat quarterback in Trey Burton running the triple option. This offense has moved the ball some, but there is absolutely no threat in the passing game, and the opponents’ defenses were able to take advantage of it.
Without Brantley, teams have absolutely been able to key in on the only playmaker on offense right now in Chris Rainey. Rainey has had defenders breathing down his neck as soon as he touches the football.
Brantley is coming back just in time to have a chance to save the Gators’ season from complete misery. With a healthy Brantley, Florida will be able to run the offense it started off the year with, not some makeshift playground play-calling Weis drew up last weekend.
It could be the perfect time for Brantley to lead the Gators to another victory over the much-hated Georgia Bulldogs.
Along with Brantley returning, Jeff Demps should be able to tote the rock some and alleviate some pressure off of Rainey in the running game. However, the offense needs more Mike Gillislee because he can run between the tackles, whereas Rainey and Demps like to get outside.
Now, obviously, I’m not saying Florida would have won either of the games against Alabama or LSU, but I believe Auburn would have been a win. And the Gators would have played the Tide and Tigers more respectable as well.