We continue our season preview, "Gators Rebuilding 2010." Until kickoff on Sept. 4 against Miami-Ohio, we will have a series of posts on players, positions and factors that will determine the Gators' success or failure this season. For all previous posts tagged as "Gators Rebuilding 2010" click here.
John Brantley was the 2006 Gatorade Player of The Year and committed to Texas. In 2010, Brantley will be the starting quarterback for the Gators, a position once held by his father.
That is the extent of Brantley's depth. There is no larger calling of missionary work or charity. He doesn't need NFL riches to support his family, either. Brantley is a Gator player first and everything else is a distant second. He is the barer of the Florida Football blood line, but other than growing a mustache to honor his father's work in the 1970s, Brantley does not seem to be swayed by the enormity of the situation he is assuming.
That is a good thing for the Gators. Brantley, even as a starter in Knoxville and Tuscaloosa, will not be intimidated by those environments. That coolness can be interpreted as disengagement. The opposite seems to be the case for Brantley. He has spent time with his o-line at his Ocala home. In spring, his connections with the much maligned Deonte Thompson made us hope that Brantley could make a player out of someone. An offense not expected to be dominant needs a quarterback that also has the same expectations. UF doesn't need 42 points a game, just as Brantley doesn't have to be a legend. He needs to be himself and that should be enough.
Brantley was quarterback coach Scot Loeffler's only student in 2009. With Tim Tebow left on his own as a senior, Loeffler molded Brantley into a more efficient quarterback. Everything we have seen or heard has been positive. Gamedays will be a new challenge, but nothing demonstrates that Brantley will struggle.
Brantley will need plenty of help though. Not just in Steve Addazio and Urban Meyer calling plays by making sure Brantley stays out of options and quarterback draws. His unproven receivers have to be there for him. Carl Moore needs to man up and Jordan Reed or Omarius Hines has to take the initiative at tight end. Andre Debose and Chris Rainey have to provide legit threats, while the running backs shoulder the burden of moving the ball. On the line, health will be the biggest challenge.
Taking the long view, Brantley must demonstrate that he will get better in each successive game. It will hard to be patient, especially when the improvements are minimal. But that is what will work. This is about 2010 and 2011. It has taken Brantley this long to get to the throne. His success will ultimately be judged by four quarters in Atlanta, Glendale and New Orleans.