Theater of Operations, Florida Gators Season Review: The Quarterbacks, Part One

Sadly, there were far too few moments like this.

First, a quick notice: Theater of Operations will be breaking down each player or position (or close to it) in the coming weeks. In part one of the quarterback breakdown, we'll take a final look at the departing John Brantley. Yes, even though Theater of Operations ran uninterrupted throughout the season, the Season Review edition will look at the plays in a new light. Also, we will only focus on conference games and other top tier opponents to save time. And yes, Florida State counts.

As much as I've tried to, I can't remember a single Gators football player who was more polarizing than John Brantley. Though please keep in mind, that I started following Gators football around the time that Steve Spurrier became the head coach. I was about six years old then and it would be another two-three years before I had a good understanding of the intricacies of football, could name you the Gators roster (the starters and primary back-ups anyway) and so on. But John Brantley to me, still stands alone.

I mean, think about it. He went from being adored (granted, as a back-up playing mostly in garbage time) to being universally hated amongst the Gator Nation, then loved again and back to being despised. Coaching was involved somewhat in that equation I'm sure, but still, Brantley is without question, one of the greatest "What ifs?" in recent memory.

Brantley finished the 2011 season by completing sixty-percent of his passes (144-240) for two-thousand and forty-four yards. He also had eleven touchdowns to go against seven interceptions. When you think about other quarterbacks, Brantley's stats appear to be from like half a season. The saga continues...

Play No. 1: Brantley's 45-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Christian against Kentucky:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

John Brantley (yellow circle) is just going to run a simple play-action play here.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Notice Brantley's helmet (yellow square) here. It is clearly on the ball. Because it is a very good play-action, it draws to of the linebackers (green circles) in just enough that Gerald Christian will be able to run right by them.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The offensive line does a great job of blocking on the play, which allows Brantley (yellow square) the time needed to step up into the pocket and deliver a great throw.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The throw (yellow square) ends up a little high and somewhat behind Christian, but I mean really? At this point, are you really going to ask for anything better from Brantley? I didn't think so.

Play No. 2: Brantley's touchdown pass to Jordan Reed against Georgia:

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(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

Yes, the game in which there seemed to be about thirty-two 4th down touchdown passes. This one was the only the Gators got, courtesy of John Brantley (yellow circle).

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(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

Georgia throws caution to the wind and brings the heat. Brantley (yellow circle) is forced to run up and out of the pocket to get off the throw.

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(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

Which he does somewhat awkwardly...

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(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

...but it was right on the money.

Play No. 3: Brantley's second interception against Florida State:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Yeah, so John Brantley (yellow circle) is going to run a little play-action bootleg, and then for some reason throw the ball into octuple coverage. Okay, maybe it really was quadruple coverage, but is there really a difference? You know, besides four more.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

And there is the play-action...

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

...which of course buys Brantley plenty of time (and space) to get off the throw.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

And there is the quadruple coverage. Just a horrible decision by Brantley.

Play No. 4: Brantley's third (and final) interception against Florida State:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Watch John Brantley's eyes.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Keep watching them.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Look at them one more time. Did you notice that? He never takes his eyes off the receiver. Not even for a split second.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

To make matters worse, Brantley floats the ball on the throw. Now, if you're going to do this, you surely don't do it against the Florida State defense and more specifically, you don't do it on Greg Reid's (yellow square) side of the field.

Play No. 5: Brantley's touchdown pass to Deonte Thompson against Ohio State:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

This is one of John Brantley's (yellow circle) better passes of the season. And it comes after just a little three-step drop.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

A very nice pocket develops for Brantley (yellow circle) to throw from.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Brantley (yellow circle) takes about a step and a half forward, sets his feet and gets off a very good throw.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The ball is perfectly placed between two defenders. Just an excellent throw by Brantley. One of the few he had all season.

You know, I try to not be so hard on Brantley because I know he went through a lot during his time in Gainesville. I mean, two different head coaches, three different offensive coordinators (he played for two of them) and just so much criticism that I'm sure that Brantley thinks that Brock Berlin got off easy.

At the beginning of the year, Brantley seemed to be on the up-and-up, and we all thought that Charlie Weis was our version of Annie Sullivan (only you know, different),but then Alabama came into town and things changed. Now, we move on to (hopefully) one of the next two quarterbacks that will be profiled on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

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