Brantley looks prime to return
Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 8:10 p.m.
Injured Florida quarterback John Brantley has moved closer to returning to the starting lineup for Saturday's game against Georgia in Jacksonville.
His ankle has held up through the first two practices of the week, and he's shown the coaches so far that he's healthy enough to run the offense, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said after Tuesday's practice.
“(He's been able to do) a lot more than I thought he was going to be able to do,” Weis said. “That was encouraging. We're cautiously optimistic it's going to be him, but you have to plan. He could come in tomorrow and it could be all swollen up and he's not walking.
“So, you're cautiously optimistic, but you can't go in planning it's just him. You can't think that way.”
Brantley sustained a high ankle sprain late in the first half of the Alabama game almost four weeks ago. He threw some passes and took some drops in practice during the bye week last week. This week, he returned to practice and his ankle has held up fine, with two more practices to go.
Weis said he has coached quarterbacks in the past coming off the same injury Brantley is coping with.
“One thing they have to be able to do is run the offense,” Weis said. “If there are limitations that don't allow them to run the offense (then he can't go). Obviously, a big part is being able to throw the ball on time efficiently and effectively.
“That's where he is, absolutely. It's one of the reasons the arrow is pointing up (for him playing Saturday). He's had a pretty productive week so far.”
The Gators will not know until later in the week if Brantley can return to the starting lineup. Just in case he can't, Weis is getting true freshmen quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel ready to run the offense Saturday.
“We're geared toward multiple options here,” Weis said. “Fortunately, in the bye week you have enough time to make those plans. It would be pretty rough to try and plan something like this in a one-week time frame.”
Weis said if Brantley is unable to go, Brissett would make his third consecutive start. Brissett played the entire LSU game and the first half of the loss at Auburn two weeks ago, before giving way to Driskel in the second half.
“(Brissett would start) just based on the performance in games and in practice,” Weis said. “Jacoby is slightly ahead. That's why he would go next.”
Although Brissett's numbers were not impressive and the Gators managed to score only 17 points in the two losses, Weis said he is impressed with Brissett's composure and command of the offense.
“The one thing is LSU, the environment didn't overwhelm him,” Weis said. “That's a bit surprising, if you think about it. You haven't played one snap the whole year and to go into that place right now. … I'm not saying we did a great job on offense. But it wasn't too much for him.
“That certainly was the case the following week (against Auburn). We obviously have to play a lot better at the position. I'm very encouraged by his presence and how he ran the team. I've always said with a quarterback, your presence and how you run the team is one of the critical factors.”
Weis said after watching Brissett and Driskel in big SEC games, he's very high on both young quarterbacks.
“I think both these young men have a very, very bright future,” Weis said. “I'm really looking forward to what's going to come with these two guys.
“The down side of John getting hurt is you lose your starting quarterback when things were going pretty well. (Brissett and Driskel) got some experience you don't have to go through next year. They've already experienced it here in the last few weeks.”
Brissett and Driskel are the future at quarterback.
Weis and the Gators are hoping Brantley is the present again, starting on Saturday in Jacksonville.
“It's no big secret that the kid was playing good,” Weis said of Brantley. “I think that everyone feels a lot more confident going into a game knowing there is a good chance he's going to be out there slinging it.
“What I do know is all those people who wanted him out of here now can't wait to get him back. Isn't that funny how that story changes.”
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