In the last few days, the two best newspapers in Florida have featured epic takedowns of John Brantley. On Monday, the Miami Herald's Mike McCall (who has been the balls since taking over the Herald Gator beat) demonstrated that Florida is at full speed when running a two or three quarterback offense.
McCall broke down the last three games into drives in which it was just Brantley, and drives that included Jordan Reed and Trey Burton. On Brantley drives, UF scored one touchdown on 14 drives. On multiple quarterback drives, UF scored 13 touchdowns on 23 drives. You will think that the information is skewed, especially when you consider Reed's performance at Vandy. But McCall broke it down by game, which is especially painful for the six remaining Brantley defenders. Against South Carolina, Brantley and the multiple QB look had six drives each. The multi-QB look scored, had 157 more yards of offense and no turnovers. The Brantley drives had two turnovers.
The St. Petersburg Times today simply asked, "What's wrong with John Brantley?" The Times addresses Brantley's problems as a quarterback, but also lays blame on an ineffective offensive line, bad coaching and an inconsistent running game. What is interesting to consider is that Urban Meyer says in the piece that if you don't have a running quarterback, you need a traditional, big running back. The problem is that UF has never really recruited those backs. In a year in which they knew they had a small, drop-back quarterback, UF did not compensate with a running game to match.
This is not just a failure in terms of Meyer and Steve Addazio building an offense around the players they have. It's a failure in not recruiting the athletes they need. Perhaps, Meyer is looking long term at this, meaning a bad season with a drop-back quarterback is acceptable, because UF will have good seasons with a running quarterback. For Florida's sake, I hope that is the case. To win this season, Meyer would need players who might not work in two years with Jeff Driskel.
Which brings us back to the title of this piece; after this season, there is no reason why Brantley should be the starting quarterback. A lot of the blame for this season is out of his hands, but the fact is that Meyer thinks the only way he can win is with a quarterback who can run. Meyer proved that this season by forcing Brantley into running, when he clearly does not have the body, speed or vision to do so.
Next season, Reed and Driskel will compete with Brantley for the starting job. Reed has to believe that he has a chance at the gig. If Driskel is asked to redshirt, he can tell Meyer to go to hell and also compete for the job. If I was in Driskel's shoes, I'd start running Florida's offense with my high school buddies to get a head start on 2011 camp. (
To my knowledge, Driskel will not be an early enrollee. But correct me if I am wrong and link to your source. Driskel says he is in early.)
For 2011, Brantley doesn't have to look over his shoulder because Reed and Driskel will be next to him. Unless John Brantley becomes Johnny Unitas in his next two games and convinces Meyer he can win with a pro-style offense, Brantley can forget about the starting job in 2011.