Notebook: QBs under new management
Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 11:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 11:23 p.m.
Florida has a quarterbacks coach. His name is Jeff Blasko. Don't know who he is? Brian White has a suggestion.
“You can Google him,” said White, the UF running backs coach who will serve as the Gators' offensive coordinator in the Gator Bowl. Blasko, meanwhile, will coach the quarterbacks.
“He's a graduate assistant, a swashbuckling young man,” White quipped Tuesday while meeting with the media after practice.
White takes over for Charlie Weis, the former UF offensive coordinator who recently left to become head coach at Kansas. White is among the candidates to replace Weis, but UF coach Will Muschamp said he doesn't plan on making the hire until early 2012, which is why Blasko, a former GA at Akron, is filling in.
“Jeff's a wonderful young coach,” White said. “He's done a nice job with our players.”
With just one game left in the 2011 season, Florida's coaches have one eye on the present and another on the future, which means more attention on first-year quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel.
“The good thing about a bowl game is you get extra practices,” White said. “Coach Muschamp's philosophy is to treat it as spring ball for at least half of it. They've gotten a lot of reps. They've made a lot of improvement. They're both extremely talented young quarterbacks.”
The offense has endured more than its share of injuries, but the Gators are on the mend.
Running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps have fully recovered from ankle injuries.
“They've made every practice and they're probably as healthy as they've been,” White said. “I really look forward to them being at full strength.”
Returning to the offensive line is right tackle Chaz Green, who missed much of November with a sprained ankle before returning for the regular-season finale against Florida State.
“Chaz is great. He's practiced every day,” White said.
Florida's starting offensive line, White said, remains the same as the FSU game with Green at left tackle, Dan Wenger at left guard, Jon Harrison at center, Jon Halapio at right guard and Matt Patchan at right tackle.
Brantley's last game
After two turbulent seasons as a starter, John Brantley's UF career will come to an end after the Gator Bowl. A former Gatorade High School Player of the Year, Brantley has taken the brunt of the fans' criticism for UF's sagging offense, an issue that the Florida coaches are well aware of.
“Regardless of if you pay attention to it or not, you hear negativity a lot,” Muschamp said. “Quarterback is a tough position to play. It's the hardest position to play on the field. When it's going well, you normally are put on a pedestal that you are actually playing better than you really are, and at times when things aren't going very well, you're probably painted to be a little worse than you actually are. I think from that standpoint, he's a guy that went through a frustrating year with the previous year and came into our situation, really embraced it and did a good job with our offense.
“Unfortunately he had some injuries and setbacks, but the one thing I'm going to tell you about John is that he's a positive guy — he loves being a Florida Gator, and that is important to me. He is a guy that does everything he can do in a first-class manner. He has a great family that supports him. He's a guy that I'm really proud of to be a part of this football program.”
Cornerback Jeremy Brown and defensive lineman Dominique Easley have sustained knee injuries that will sideline them for the Gator Bowl. Brown, who missed all of 2011, is considering knee surgery.
Easley, meanwhile, underwent ACL surgery, which Muschamp said went well. Brown may miss spring practice. Easley, who tore his ACL, probably will miss March workouts. However, Easley is expected to return to full speed in the summer, in plenty of time for conditioning. Brown's future apparently depends on how his injury progresses.