Weis will adapt offense to Brantley's strengths
Published: Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 9:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 9:59 p.m.
OCALA — A day after his quarterback navigated the shark-infested waters of SEC Media Days in Alabama, Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis fielded similar questions in the friendly confines of Ocala's College of Central Florida.
Weis, who owns four Super Bowl rings, was the guest speaker at the annual Marion County Gator Gathering on Thursday night at the Ewers Center. And everyone wanted to know if the quarterback guru who guided Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen into the NFL could do the same for Ocala product John Brantley in his final season as the Gators' signal-caller.
"I think, first of all, when you put in a new offense, too much responsibility on any one player is not a very good philosophical idea," said Weis, who recently bought a home in Marion County. "The most important thing for me and the offensive staff is to figure out what we can do the best, and then just do a lot of that.
"Too many times in football people try to reinvent the wheel. What we have to do is develop a personality and find out what (Brantley) can do the best, and do that."
Brantley came to Florida with high hopes in 2007. The blue-chip prospect won the Gatorade National Player of the Year award and set the state record with 99 career touchdown passes as a prep superstar. He also won Marion County's first state football championship in 26 years while at Trinity Catholic High School.
Expectations were high when he took over the starting role for Tim Tebow last season, but Brantley's numbers — 2,061 passing yards with nine TDs and 10 interceptions — were underwhelming. And the Gators' 8-5 record was unacceptable for Florida fans used to booking hotels in Atlanta each December.
But Weis views last season as an aberration for a pro-style quarterback like Brantley. In fact, the coach says last year's film study of Brantley provides no real insight as to what his quarterback is capable of.
"It doesn't help me very much because it's so different from what I do," Weis said. "(He wasn't) really in a true drop-back setting, so therefore I need to be able to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges."
Another Brantley, John III, the head coach at Trinity Catholic and father of the heavily scrutinized Gator quarterback, was the emcee for the event. He has kept his distance as his son makes the transition from Urban Meyer's spread offense to the pro-style passing of Weis. But he's been pleased with the reviews he's getting from his son and his teammates.
"Everything I've heard is positive," Brantley III said. "I see a lot of excitement up there. The players are excited about the challenge.
"If you go back and look at New England, I expect the same — a pro-style offense. That's only going to help Johnny in his quest to finish off his (Florida career) with a good, solid senior year."
Weis stopped short of any predictions, but the renowned offensive coach believes Brantley has the ability to run his system effectively.
"In a pro-style offense it's more about whether you have all the physical tools to be able to run the offense — which (Brantley) does," Weis explained. "Then it's mentally how do you handle it."
Florida fans will get a glimpse of the new offense when the Gators kick off their 2011 season against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 3.