After four years of futility in Urban Meyer’s offense, John Brantley may finally be comfortable at Florida.
With a new coaching staff in place and a pro-style set suited to his abilities, the much-maligned quarterback enters his swan song season at UF with a chance at a fresh start.
After patiently waiting for three seasons behind Tim Tebow, Brantley sputtered in his first year as a starter.
The redshirt senior had a disaster 2010 season, leading the least productive passing attack the Gators have seen in 21 years with just 2,396 yards.
He was the school’s first starting signal-caller since 1988 to have more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (9).
Play-calling, a porous offensive line and Meyer’s revolving three-quarterback system were all sources of Brantley’s lack of production, but questions still linger over his decision-making and leadership.
The former Ocala Trinity Catholic High star pondered transferring after the season, but with the coaching change, and specifically Charlie Weis’ introduction as the new offensive coordinator, Brantley had a change of heart.
During Weis’ 32-year coaching career, the four-time Super Bowl champion has a long history of improving his quarterback’s play.
When Weis took over as Notre Dame’s head coach in 2005, starter Brady Quinn’s production immediately skyrocketed.
In his first campaign under Weis, the junior threw for over 1,300 more yards and 15 more touchdowns to help set up a fourth-place finish in Heisman voting.
A statistical bump of Quinn’s magnitude may be tough for Brantley — coach Will Muschamp’s run-oriented approach is unlikely to let the redshirt senior throw 450 times like Weis allowed — but by the end of spring camp, Florida’s coach spoke glowingly of the strides Brantley had made in Weis’ scheme.
Muschamp said the quarterback completed over 70 percent of his passes during closed practices.
But in the Orange and Blue Debut, his accuracy failed him again, missing on his first six attempts.
Brantley finished the spring game just 4 of 14 for 45 yards and zero touchdowns.
The performance immediately opened the door for his detractors again, who noted the supposedly reborn quarterback looked anything but productive in the scrimmage.
Although neither backup Tyler Murphy nor freshman Jeff Driskel outplayed Brantley in the spring, the target on the incumbent’s back will be bigger than last season.
As Rivals.com No. 1 quarterback in the 2011 class, the 6-foot-4, 238-pound Driskel has already drawn comparisons to Brantley’s predecessor Tim Tebow.
With a loaded schedule and an unproven group of playmakers, the call for ushering in a quarterback for the future could be deafening in the The Swamp should Brantley’s struggles continue.
In his last season with the Gators, it will be ultimately up to Brantley whether he creates a memorable legacy at Florida.
In his first year as UF's starting quarterback, redshirt senior John Brantley had a rough 2010 campaign but looks to improve in the Gators' new pro-style offense.