There’s good news and bad news for Florida quarterback John Brantley.
The good news is his ribs are feeling much better and he’s practicing at full speed this week.
The bad news is those tender ribs might be taking some more shots in Saturday night’s game against Mississippi State.
With the threat of the big play missing in the UF offense the past two games, opposing defenses have put a bunch of players close to the line of scrimmage and sent all kinds of blitzes at Brantley looking for sacks and big (defensive) plays. Brantley was pressured into throwing a pick-six against Alabama two weeks ago. Last Saturday, he was sacked three times by LSU and pressured and hit more times than he wasn’t went he dropped back to pass.
Brantley likely will face a similar onslaught from the Bulldogs on Saturday.
Mississippi State has produced only 10 sacks this season, but the Bulldogs are one of those crazy blitzing teams that will blitz and blitz and blitz, sending all sorts of different players firing into the backfield from all sorts of different directions.
“Oh, yeah, (they’re a heavy blitzing team from every angle),” UF offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said. “They bring it from everywhere. You’ve got to adjust to all that.”
One way to slow down a blitzing defense is to hit some big plays on it. The Gators haven’t had much luck doing that, especially with tailback and home-run threat Jeff Demps out for most of the past three games with a sprained foot.
Demps is practicing this week and could be close to 100 percent, which certainly would take some of the heat off Brantley. Another player who could help is redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose, who showed the coaches he’s a playmaker with his 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The coaches have said this week they hope to get Debose more involved in the offense in this game (and for the rest of the season).
The Gators will be looking to bust someone loose on offense Saturday night. If it doesn’t happen, Brantley might be getting busted in the ribs (and elsewhere) once again.