With just a few days left until the Gators kick-off their 2011 campaign, I thought it would be fun to get some of the editors and authors from Alligator Army together in a round table discussion. The purpose of all this? I guess there really isn’t one. Other than to answer a few questions, have some fun and get to know the other authors a little bit more.
In part one, we talk about what our expectations are for the offense under Charlie Weis, John Brantley and even get into an argument over which is better: DirecTV or Dish Network? Okay, I made that last part up. Everyone knows that DirecTV is by far the better choice.
Anyway, on to the discussion about the offense. Hope y’all enjoy it.
Question #1: What expectations do you have for John Brantley and the rest of the offense under Charlie Weis?
skigator93: My expectations for the offense and Brantley are that they get better each game. If we get 4-5 games into the season and Brantley still isn't getting it, it will be time to move on. There will be little point in hoping Brantley comes around his senior year down the stretch. My expectations are tempered for the offense in general though because the players were recruited to run a spread, so I expect some definite growing pains there.
BKGator: I may be one of the few who thinks John Brantley is going to have an excellent year this year under Weis and will be drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. Meyer's system fit Brantley like a square peg in a round hole. I've seen this kid play extensively in high school. I probably saw 8 games his senior season and he looked every bit like the 5-star QB he was touted as. Last season was terrible play calling thanks to Steve Addazio (does the word "dive" ring a bell?) and the offensive line, which was supposed to be Florida's strength, not giving Brantley enough time to read the defense and throw the ball. As for the rest of the offense, I'm expecting huge things out of Demps and Rainey. These guys are explosive and I bet one of these guys rushes for 1,000 yards. And their YPC avg will be over 7. If Thompson can hang on to balls, Hammond can make plays, and Dunbar can stretch the defense, it could be a special year. That's a lot of big ifs. I think the X-Factor of this offense is Omarius Hines. The guys a beast. Probably one of the most underrated players on the team. Overall, I think Brantley throws 20 TDs to 7 INTs, much better than last year. Florida averages over 28 ppg. Just my humble opinion.
swampchomp7: For the offense in general: I wouldn’t say I have an expectation, so much as a plea- no matter what our record, can the offense please appear to have someone at the wheel? Last year was like the most crash-happy NASCAR race you’ll ever see, but at 10mph, and you can clearly see the walrus behind the steering wheel. It’s easy to say this now, as opposed to when we’re sitting at 4-4, but as long as we appear to have a coherent plan and structure to the offense, I’ll be happy.
If I do have to give some sort of expectation, I’ll go with this- it will look okay, but not great. In one season we’re installing a very different offense and reinstalling the confidence program in a senior quarterback, and even a best-case scenario spits out a prognosis of purty good, but not great.
For Brantley: I am an ardent Brantley defender. To clarify, I’m not trying to convince anyone that he’s great, I’m just trying to state that last year cannot be fairly blamed on him, and certainly not to the extent that it has been. A brief rundown of nearly every possession:
First down: TIME TO DIVE! One yard gain. OR: Bad snap, poor blocking, loss of seven. Second down: Same Burton draw play they run every time. Meh to decent outcome. Third down: Y Hallo Thar Brantley, we need you to throw a 20 yard pass to get us out of this mess. BTW the defense knows we’re going to throw and also that we can’t snap and also that we can’t block. Good luck!
By the time we were over halfway through the season, Brantley was a shell of what he was or could have been. That interception he tossed early in the FSU game was bad, but at that point I’d argue that he was long since finished. The guy has been unfairly singled out (after Addazio) as the cause of all problems last year. But if anyone can rebuild a pro-style qb in one year, isn’t it Weis? I can’t help but return to the thought of "this is the guy who made Brady Quinn a first round draft pick". Much as it still makes my HEAD A SPLODE to realize I now must show some degree of well-wishing for Weis’ success, I think he’s best suited to do it. I anticipate Brantley being solid if not spectacular, and hopefully this will hold at bay enough of the idiots who scream for "new and shiny" (in this case, Driskell. These are the same types who wanted Tebow to start over Leak in 2006. You only start a true freshman when there is genuinely no alternative- see Chris Leak vs. Ingle Martin, 2003).
I’m not telling anyone to be for Brantley, just not to be unreasonably against him.
Hook85: One minute I think the hiring of Charlie Weis is genius and his great offensive mind will show case the real John Brantley. Not the shell shocked QB that we saw last year that could only complete five yard passes without even taking a glance at the other receivers. Then the pessimism in me wonders if last season’s John Brantley is the best were going to get. I know Brantley is from a long line of Gators and I expected so much from him, but If Brantley continues where he left off last season; the other QB’s should get a shot at it before the season is over.
FlaGators: I'm a big believer when it comes to Weis' ability to run an offense. What he was able to do at Notre Dame in his first year was unbelievable. Unfortunately, I don't have all that much confidence in John Brantley. Physically, I think he can handle it. I do think he can throw the heck out of the football. I just don't know if mentally, he has it anymore. Or if he ever even had it. But, if I were to pick one person to help Brantley regain whatever it is he lost, I'd pick Charlie Weis. The wide-receivers worry me more than the running backs. I have a lot of faith in Demps, Rainey and Brown to get the job done. As for the receivers, especially after the A.C. Leonard injury, I have quite a few questions. After Hammond and Dunbar I just don't really see another receiver that would scare another team. Sure Hines, Thompson, Debose and Clark have had some moments, but there is a reason why (other than Debose) that they really haven't done much to this point. I have hopes for Ja'Juan Story though. Count me in the group that won't be surprised if he ends up seeing a significant amount of playing time.