Brantley gets chance to run offense


Florida quarterback Tim Tebow (15) talks with backup John Brantley during Saturday's practice.

Brandon Kruse/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 12:21 a.m.

The battle for the No. 2 quarterback job officially began Saturday when redshirt freshman John Brantley entered the fray with his first live scrimmage action.

In earlier scrimmages, sophomore Cameron Newton took all the snaps with the second offense, while the coaches held Brantley out for precautionary reasons with a sore non-throwing shoulder.

Brantley got some time with the No. 2 offense Saturday and had some success throwing the football and moving the offense.

"(Brantley) is going to be a really good player, and his attitude (is good)," UF coach Urban Meyer said. "(Offensive guard) James Wilson and John Brantley. ... They were both No. 1 players (at their position) coming out of high school.

"That's where you admire the families around them. If they wanted to be extremely selfish and not give their kid a chance to grow as a football player, that's when you see problems. The thing about the Brantley family and the Wilson family is they understand it's a growth process. Both these kids are having very good springs."

The battle for the backup role at quarterback likely will stretch into the fall.

Secondary locks down

The offense hit two long scoring plays on passes from Tim Tebow to Deonte Thompson, but overall, UF's coverage in the secondary seemed tight for most of the scrimmage, with the corners and safeties doing a a nice job breaking on the ball.

"The defensive backs are doing very well. That's maturity," Meyer said. "I think (new cornerbacks coach) Vance Bedford and (safeties coach) Chuck Heater are doing a heck of a job back there."

Junior cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis produced one of the defensive highlights of the day, a diving interception.

Meyer said true freshman Janoris Jenkins is making progress at cornerback.

"He's had a very solid spring," Meyer said. "If I'm guessing, I'd say he's going to play next fall."

Murphy ailing

Starting wide receiver Louis Murphy was held out of the scrimmage with what Meyer called chronic headaches.

"He's had headaches since last fall and they found out what it was," Meyer said. "We're just being cautious with him. He has chronic headaches. They've found the problem, though. I think next week he'll be cleared to go."

Three linemen injured

Saturday's high-effort scrimmage produced three injuries.

Starting offensive guard Michael Pouncey and starting defensive end Justin Trattou left with ankle sprains, while No. 2 left offensive tackle Carl Johnson departed with a separated shoulder.

Meyer said none of the injuries appears serious.

Big hit, or whiff

Meyer said starting free safety Major Wright has rebounded after missing some tackles early in the spring.

"He tries to knock your head off every time he hits you," Meyer said. "That's good if you do it. But you have a tendency to drop your head and he missed some tackles last year, and he started off the spring missing some tackles. The last few days he's been much better."

Grinding it out

The Gators spent a good portion of Saturday's scrimmage with the quarterbacks lining up under center and handing the ball to the tailbacks straight ahead.

"When you get into spring, sometimes we get locked in on some focus things," offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said. "Today, it was get under center and hand it to the tailbacks and pound it.

"That was an emphasis in the scrimmage and we had a little success doing that."

The Gators also worked extensively on their no-huddle offense.

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