With Charlie Weis being named offensive coordinator and implementing a new pro-style offense, the speculation once again has turned to whether or not John Brantley will return. There have been numerous reports regarding Brantley’s future.
The truth is as a fifth-year senior coming off a disastrous year, his options are not very broad. If he were able to graduate early and transfer to another FBS school, where would he go? He could step down a level and be highly marketable, but a move backwards would be questionable.
The reality is if John Brantley does not give up football altogether, his best option is staying at Florida.
Brantley’s lack of success has been well documented this year. It was obvious he was no match for the spread option Steve Addazio insisted on running, and bringing him in on obvious passing downs did little to boost his confidence, considering opposing defenses simply blitzed nearly every time he entered the game.
After being roughed up by Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State, Brantley became very insecure in the pocket. By the second half of the season, he was hitting his short hot routes before some receivers even broke into their routes.
In the recent Outback Bowl, Brantley continuously threw quick, drop-down passes of three, four and five yards, and each time well short of the first down mark. If Brantley is going to be counted on next season, his psyche will need plenty of attention throughout the spring and summer.
If the Gators' new coaching staff decides to go in a different direction, the only alternative will be Jeff Driskel, the highly touted recruit from Oviedo, Florida. Driskel has started to gather a certain Tebow momentum through this year’s recruiting process. His commitment to the Gators has not wavered through the coaching change, and he appears to be fully on board with the Charlie Weis hire.
At no time do you want to turn your program over to a true freshman, but sometimes the need to do so does present itself.
What makes this situation unique is the fact that Brantley and Driskel will both be learning the offense from scratch, essentially making them both freshmen in Weis’ offense. One would expect Brantley to show more promise, being older and more comfortable with the college game and environment.
However, the optimism surrounding Brantley is scarce, to say the least.
During Weis’ tenure at Notre Dame, he did not hesitate to turn to true freshman Jimmy Clausen to lead his offense. If Driskel does show promise, do not be surprised if similar decisions are made in Gainesville.
Both quarterbacks will get the opportunity, and both quarterbacks can be successful with the new regime. The one thing for certain is the Gators will have to have more leadership at the quarterback position in 2011 if they hope to be successful. If that means starting a true freshman, so be it.