Brantley back under center

Florida senior quarterback is healthy enough to go from the shotgun formation exclusively to under center.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 12:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 12:40 p.m.

Florida quarterback John Brantley's injured ankle has improved so much that he'll be able to go back under center for Saturday night's game against arch-rival Florida State.

“John Brantley is playing well and his ankle has continued to improve,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said on his radio show Tuesday night. “He will be under center this week for the first time since the Alabama game. That will help us get more of our downhill running game going.”

Brantley has not taken a snap under center since his return from a high ankle sprain that forced him to miss the LSU and Auburn games. He's been exclusively in the shotgun in the past four games.

Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said one reason Brantley's health has improved is the fact he did not take any substantial hits in the victory over Furman last Saturday.

“Because John got hit so much less, he's the healthiest he's been by far since the Alabama game,” Weis said. “It's not even close, because he barely got touched.”

Brantley said his ankle is close to 100 percent.

“I'm feeling a lot better, just feeling better each week,” Brantley said. "It's been different. I felt pretty healthy for a long time now, a couple of weeks. I just keep seeing progress, getting better.''

Weis said protecting Brantley allowed the Gators to execute their down-field passing game in the 54-32 victory. Brantley threw for 329 yards and four touchdowns.

“The less you get hit, the more time you have, the more you can throw the ball down the field,” Weis said. “I think for a change that was something that we were very productive in in the last game.”

Reed still limping around

Muschamp said Wednesday starting tight end Jordan Reed is still hobbled by a sprained ankle he sustained in the Furman game.

“He missed practice (Tuesday), but we're hoping to get him some reps (Wednesday),” Muschamp said during Wednesday's SEC teleconference. “Other than that, we have pretty much everybody back.”

Muschamp said starting strong safety Matt Elam sat out Monday's practice with a strained groin, but was back at full speed Tuesday. Meyer said Elam played in the last two games with the injury.

Durkin, Marotti following Urban?

There is a rumor floating around Urban Meyer, if and when he accepts the Ohio State job, will take Florida assistants D.J. Durkin (linebackers, special teams) and Mickey Marotti (strength and conditioning coordinator) with him to Columbus.

“That's all speculation,” Muschamp said. “Any time somebody takes a job and you've worked for somebody before, the natural thing to do is to put pieces of the puzzle together and say what's going to happen.

“Our total focus is on Florida State and playing well in this game and preparing our football team.”

Senior Day vet

Offensive lineman Dan Wenger certainly will know how to handle himself as he goes through Senior Day on Saturday in The Swamp. This will be the third one for the sixth year senior. He's already been through two of these at Notre Dame.

Wenger transferred to UF this summer after he was granted a sixth year of eligibility.

“It's pretty emotional for me and my family,” he said. “This is truly going to be it and the last time running of out this tunnel, so it's a pretty emotional week for me.”

Wenger said he feels he's made the most of this extra year of college football he's spent with the Gators and former Notre Dame coaches Charlie Weis and Frank Verducci.

“It's been amazing to tell you the truth,” Wenger said. “It's been a lot of fun regardless of the ups and downs that we've had. Obviously, I wish it would have turned out better but I couldn't be more thankful and blessed for the opportunity to play here and play a sixth year of college football.

“I'm just really thankful for Coach Muschamp, Coach Verducci and Coach Weis and the rest of the coaching staff just to have this opportunity and chance. I would be lying if I didn't say I didn't love playing for Coach Muschamp. It's been a lot of fun.”

Wenger gives Muschamp a strong endorsement.

“I just love the way he coaches,” Wenger said. “I love his intensity. I love the character behind Coach Muschamp. There is going to be a tough transition out of football, but one thing that will make it easier is knowing that I played for a great head coach and great assistant coaches that wanted all the same things I did in a team.”

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