Brantley arrives, then gone


There are many differing opinions out there about John Brantley, but I think there is one thing we can all agree on. He is one of the most star-crossed players in the history of Florida football.

This life-long Gator redshirted his freshman year and then sat patiently behind Tim Tebow for two years waiting for his chance to fulfill his dream of being the Florida quarterback. When he finally got his chance last season, he found himself stuck in an offensive quagmire. He was asked to do things in the spread-option offense that he couldn’t do, like run the option. And he never had the chance to do the things that he can do well, like throw the football down the field.

As a result, he was ripped and ridiculed throughout the 2010 season. His smile and his confidence disappeared. He thought about leaving.

Then, a Godsend. Charlie Weis.

When Will Muschamp hired the highly regarded offensive coordinator and quarterback fixer, it gave Brantley new life — and one last chance to become the quarterback we all thought he could be when he signed with Florida five years ago.

On Saturday night in The Swamp, we saw that quarterback. He was poised, in command, confidently making his check downs, throwing the ball down the field and leading the Gators up and down the field against the nation’s strongest defense.

Then, of course, another cruel blow for Brantley. He sustained a high ankle sprain when he was sacked in the final minute of the first half. Now, best case scenario, Brantley will have only precious few chances (three, maybe four games) to repeat what he did in that first half Saturday night.

Listen to Weis talking about Brantley’s performance and how far he’s come as a quarterback:

“With the exception of the interception, where he didn’t  even see the guy, he played great. He was trying to throw the check down to Trey Burton and should not have thrown it, because he could not really see Trey, either. Think about it. He throws 16 passes, he completes 11 and he has three dropped balls. That’s 14 of 16 against that defense.

“He’s stepping up in the pocket. That’s what real quarterbacks look like, stepping up in the pocket, shuffling a little to the left, shuffling a little to the right, making the big throw down the field that everyone said he couldn’t make. Stepping up and hitting a crossing route to Deonte Thompson, which was his fourth read. Boom, boom, boom and he hits him out of the back end. He was playing.

“He’d like that interception back. One thing I like the most about him is when that happened, I said three words to him: short-term memory. And he came back and we went on that two-minute drive down to the 14 before the back-to-back sacks. I mean, never fazed him, never lost his cool. I look into peoples’ eyes. It was pretty easy to see he expected to play a good game. It’s unfortunate that he got injured.”

It is. But hopefully, Brantley will show the toughness and resiliency he has throughout his career and bounce back one more time — show us again the stuff he showed us last Saturday night.

He deserves that. I think we can all agree on that.


  1. JB has never disappointed me, as a Gator, or as a person. He’s been patient, and loyal to the team and the Gator nation. I was/am much more disappointed in the “former administration” who placed him a bad/illogical scheme for his talents and those of the surrounding cast.
    I wish him the best in whatever he pursues in the future, and would be thrilled if he gets a chance to get the reception he deserves when/if he gets a chance to finish his career as the special person/Gator that he is.

  2. While I do feel sorry for Brantley because of his injury, I find the type of praise now being heaped on him to be absurd. The guy played a little less than a half of good football, with one pick six, and all the sudden he was going to be a star? Please! He was almost halfway through his fifth year here before he even started to look like a good qb. I love the Gators but our fans certainly see everything through Orange and Blue glasses. Bama was focuses on stopping the run and gave Brantley some opportunities and, for the most part, he played well in the first half. Thats all that really happened people.

  3. Ditch,

    I don’t know that one can blame the “former administration” . I *know* JB comes from a family of Gators and his signing with UF was a natural progression but as a HS Senior why didn’t JB and his dad (who should know better) sit down and really talk about it. JB did not fit into the UM spread. True, recruiting him was a mistake (then) but the kid should have gone where his talents naturally fit better.

  4. Robbie, the only thing you left out about last season is that, rather than “running the offense,” what evolved was JB being marched in on third down, with no rhythm or feel for the game possible, and everybody in the stadium knowing he was going to pass. Truly an impossible situation.

    That first half on Saturday night made it obvious to anyone knowledgeable who was watching that John Brantley may very well become the NFL’s next Matt Cassel, a guy with prototype NFL skills who, for various reasons, never got much playing time in college.

  5. Caveat emptor (buyer beware). It’s unfortuante that Brantley would be recruited by an “administration” that had no desire to utilize his skill-set. However, he and his family must have known exactly what he was getting into as he clearly followed their heart and not his head. One can be a “Gator” at heart even as they develop their life-skill elsewhere (Texas?). I wish the best for John but unlike the majority of college athletes he appeared to have the NFL ahead of him; unfortunately his 4.5 years as a Gator has done nothing to help him along in that regard. Maybe his last 3-4 games will…

  6. Captain Obvious….remember, he signed with Texas, then recanted. That said, your comments are spot on. Lake Mary Gator….Your comments are on point as well. Somewhere down the line, we’ll look back at him during a, hopefully, long NFL career and think, “I wish I could remember what happened to him at UF.” Unfortunately, short are the memories of most fans…

  7. He just has to tough it out and bounce back…again. It doesn’t seem fair, but the proverbial football gods tend not to play favorites. It’s a cruel game at times. And, sadly, injuries are an integral part of it. He definitely showed us the kind of QB he can be. He should be proud of that.

  8. I for one must say that I was a little critical of the play of JB last year. I once saw him while out to lunch and told him that as long as he believed in God and his abilities that he would bounce back and he replied that he does and thanked me for the encouragement. My only probelm is this beat writer Dooley for his absolutely negative blogs concerning the Gators. It’s one thing to write it as you see it but he has been totally disrespectful of this team. If I were the coach he would not be allowed in my facilities or around my players. Robby thanks for the positive blog. GO GATORS!!!

  9. I have nothing but respect and admiration for John Brantley. He has been great this season, and was fantastic against Bama. I think “Ditch Gator” and “Lake Mary Gator” both hit the nail on the head. What Urban Meyer and Steve Addazio did last season to Brantley was criminal, and made me lose enormous respect for both of those coaches. I don’t know if Brantley will get drafted (due to his minimal time in the spotlight) but I have a feeling he will find his way into the NFL and become a big time quarterback. I just wish we would have had Muschamp, Weis, and this pro-style offense last season, because it is a beautiful thing to watch Brantley throw the ball downfield. John Brantley, if you’re reading this: GATOR NATION LOVES YOU BRO! We’re praying for your speedy recovery! Wish I could buy a # 12 jersey! GO GATORS!

  10. I’m really proud of how John Brantley stepped in the pocket. You knew he was playing with confidence. He is such a class act young man and I have always admired his humble character. I truly believe that John could win us a National Championship. However, last year the offense wasn’t fit for his skills. This is the year he can do it. I still think that everybody in the team should not lose hope that quickly and still think we can run the table. We did it 3 times before. If we are not National Championship caliber, we can at least aim to win the SEC and spoil the party for Bama or LSU.
    The backup QB (whoever is named after John) needs to step up and just play, without fear. Play as when we were kids and played a whole afternoon without worrying about tomorrow. Everybody can be beaten. LSU is no exception.
    GO GATORS!!! John, I wish you a speedy recovery. Gator Nation is supporting you!!! Come back hungry John.

  11. John was recruited to UF to run Urban’s “I don’t have a system” offense. The offense was supposed to be tailored to fit the talent. If you watch JB’s first Orange and Blue game he threw it all over the field. We never saw that game plan from Meyer again, did we? There was a clear blueprint on how to run the offense with a throw first QB (see Chris Leak). Meyer basically lied to JB about how he was going to be used last year, and that completely derailed the whole season.

  12. JB’s a great representative for the school and the team. A man of great character and talent that I think we will yet see in the NFL and appreciate for the talent he has on top of the character he has already exhibited. Hope he returns this season and is able to continue the great year he has going. Was at the game Saturday night and thought he was really standing in there and delivering under under pressure from a very, very tough defense. This young man deserves a break and all the support loyal Gator fans can muster. Go JG, whatever happens.

  13. Agree with Rob as far as that there WAS a track record of adapting the offense to a drop-back QB, with Leak (although the coaches only did so, if you’ll recall ’05, when LSU showed them they had to). I’m not blaming JB and/or his dad…in fact, I’d say it was a more than reasonable conclusion on their part that the Meyer and co. would adapt to JB’s skills, since they had already done it before.

    Not sure why, with that as a background, there didn’t ever seem to be an effort last year to go to that same type of offense. Maybe there was some reason, but other than the disjointedness of the coaching staff, not sure what it could have been. Lack of confidence in the receivers? I certainly wouldn’t put last year’s group anywhere near the ’06 crew, that’s for sure. But still, it couldn’t have been any worse if they had tried to play it more like ’05 (post-LSU) and ’06.

  14. Brantley had three years to learn the system Urban had in place and didn’t. Three years of study and he couldn’t do it. Tebow did with much less. He may have gotten lucky to have a new coach and system come in but that’s it. He wasn’t lied to, what he stepped into was fully clear. All the excuses are nonsense.

  15. Thank goodness for Charlie Weis. I think he deserves all the credit in the world for instilling confidence in his players and maximizing their talents. Just what a great should be doing. It seemed as though everyone was down on John as our QB but the irony is they are also the ones that are now wishing he is behind center. Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it. Now lets hope a speedy recovery for John and here’s a great chance for the young QB’s to step up and show they are also champions; playing with persistence and heart, win or lose.

  16. I’m sorry, but I don’t see Brantley as a good QB. He had Rainey wide open in the flat at the 4-yard line and threw a ball that forced Rainey too wide so that he couldn’t turn upfield before going out of bounds. What was he thinking on that pick-six? He rarely, if ever, throws a spiral. He throws into double coverage all the time. He stares down his primary receiver. He throws the ball high a lot. He can’t outrun defensive linemen. I know he’s a senior and everything, and I understand the loyalty thing that the coaches need to show the upperclassmen, but c’mon folks, admit that Brantley just doesn’t have “it” as a QB.

  17. I agree with Rob- IN ALL OF URBAN’S SUCCESS …not having a system in place for Brantly last year was just WRONG!!! And for that, I HOPE BRANTLY will get his moment in the sun! It can still happen for JB and I think it would be appropriate for a ‘comeback’ against the BULLDOGS of GEORGIA. I saw a great QB (- the pick 6 ) in that first half against ‘Bama and I really thought IF WE HAD A COMPLIMENTARY RUN GAME WITH BRANTLY’S ARM -we could of stayed in that game Saturday. It is what it is now, and I just hope Brantly gets to- go out -his SENIOR YEAR WITH ‘SUCCESS’ …HE HAS ‘EARNED’ IT!!! He might not have proven himself -yet- for some GATORS, but for this one HE HAS!!!

  18. I am so tired of the Urban bashing!! Brantley knew exactly what he was getting into – why throw UF under the bus because he underperformed, and use the excuse “but the system didn’t fit me”? Another pure drop-back quarterback certainly thrived under the spread in 2006, didn’t he? Brantley folds under pressure and makes too many mistakes. I think Johnny-boy being out is the best thing that could have happened. Let Driskle take his lumps this year and learn; he’ll be ready next year.

  19. It’s rewarding and comforting to read that UF has many loyal fans…..towards the team and an individual. But one has to wonder not only why Urban Meyer recruited a QB ill suited for his type of offense, but why Brantley would sign with UF knowing (or should have known) that he could not and would not succeed. Don’t we remember watching Alex Smith running Meyer’s system at Utah in that underfeated season that brought Meyer to UF? Surely JB and his football family should have said “oh oh”. And what if Meyer never had his medical problems and stayed on as a super successful coach, wouldn’t Brantley be at the bottom of the depth chart if he didn’t transfer? Brantley is no doubt a terrific person and every father’s dream for his daughter, but lets get real.

  20. I was there for my annual pilgrimage to the holy land. JB looked liked he belonged in that offense and I’m convinced if he didn’t get injured it would of been a very competitive game until the end. If we can win one of the next two and get him back we are still in the division race. Although an upset Saturday will be even sweeter!

    God speed Johnny!

  21. You didn’t post this comment the first time so I guess it’s pointless to do it again. But what the heck. I’m an alumnus and was a Gainesville resident for 8 years (during the lean years including probation, and never missed a game) and so I believe I’m entitled to say this. I’m really tired of all the Urban bashing. Not only did he bring us 2 NCs (and one game away from a third), he recruited extremely well, including 2 of the all-time Gators Greats (and what about the defense!), plus left a stocked cubbard for Muschamp. Now he’s gone and Brantley’s failures are his fault??? Brantley knew exactly what he was getting into. I don’t for a minute buy “the spread wasn’t fit for me” excuse. How did Chris Leak, another pure drop-back passer fair in the spread? Exactly. And Brantley’s going to be a great NFL’er?? I think think so – if he is it will be as a free agent. I hope Driskel and/or Bisset finish out the year, make their mistakes and take their lumps now so we’ll be ready for a championship run next year, As for John – I wish him the best in all he does. GO GATORS!!!

  22. I love the way John Brantley has comported himself throughout his time at UF. Thank goodness for Charlie Weiss’ arrival and mentoring. As a result, I think someone will snatch John in maybe the fifth/sixth round in April and give him a chance to develop. Meantime, I hope with other true-blue Gators this guy gets back in time to finish this season strongly and can leave with some satisfaction. Thanks, Robbie, for your lifting up of a Gator we can all be proud to support.

  23. with all due respect for my fellow gators out there, i must disagree about johnny b. having had years to show his talent, you cant blame meyer for everything ! his accuracy has never been there.. he makes bad decisions..
    he’s slower than my 72 yr old mother & thats not meyer’s fault (other than putting the big push to recruit him). even in the worst of situations, great players find ways to play great & there have been too many examples of him being just an ok player.. forget the dropped balls .. if you REALLY think back , you’ll remember all those overthrown or underthrown balls will far outnumber the drops…and charlie weiss came a year too late.. go gators

  24. i actually was defending this kid last season when everybody else was ripping him apart…he didn’t have a chance…he wasn’t a player that could make plays with his leggs…and he could had played in that spread offense….(a.k.a. colt mcoy and sam bradford) if he would had had a better offense coach…ppl don’t seem to get it..think about for a second…how can you take a offense lineman coach who has NEVER called plays or ran a offense..and make him all of sudden you offense coach at a school like uf in a conf. like the SEC?….you can’t do that and expect to keep rolling…it was bad play calling and they didn’t have anyone there smarter enough to fit the offense around JB strengths…he’s a better qb then what we saw last season and will be good in the NFL.

  25. All cheers to the Florida gators,which I’ve a fan all my life. Brantleys injury shocked the whole gators nation and I wish the best on his ankle sprain. Although words to bama, we will see yall in the sec and expect to bring all you can bring because the gators will rise again.

  26. Im a Florida Gator…..I have had season tickets for a good number of years now….We go to the games…we invest our time in the game…We take time off work and go to the tailgating and no matter what we love the University of Florida!!!!! I was at Bama game and that night it was electric!!!! Bottom line is ” we re the people” the ones at the game with an investment in time and money!!! My point is so many of these comments are from people that look at a game as judge and jury rather than loving to be a piece of history……John spent 5 years because he is a Gator 100%!
    So many comments are from idiots that are sitting in some bar or at home watching three games at once and have no clue about what is going on.
    I love college ball because its about the excitement of the game….Many of you sound like Pro football old men that have no love for anything except winning or beating the spread….We won 2 natl championships and almost a 3rd in 6 years and anyone who even mentions Urban Meyer in any word other than how great a job he did is a true Moron…..
    If you FSU fans want to bash us..come join the Big Boys league and see if you win anything!!!!! Bottom line is we are the most successful program in the nation over the last 10 years!!!!! Go gators and any of you that dont like it go to Miami or FSY and play in the ACC
    Go gators…Bob in Jupiter….

  27. The Gators problem is basic fundamentals(tackling), poor play calling and player substitution:

    1.whatever happened to wrap around the running back(especially big backs) and holding on until help comes and none of the panzy trying to tackle by a hit or grabbing and rolling-WRAP AND STICK UNTIL HELP COMES-hell pay me $10/gr an to be one of the coaches.

    2.FORGET about the sweeps,especially Rainey, it just makes him hesitate and try to make too many unnecessary moves/decisions:
    Run him straight ahead and make men out of the O line and rotate Gilleslie(power runner). Coaches done worked the S#@t out of Demps, now there are trying to do the same with Rainey seems like, then they will put Gilleslie and do the same-INSANITY

    3.UF, always seems to want to play finess football,especially against Bama and LSU,lets BANG SOME TOO plus FINESS. HOPEFULLY MUSCHAMP WILL READ THIS, AS FOR CHARLIE WEISS,being familiar with pro offense, what happened??