A look at the 2011 Florida Gators:
This is part one of a four-part series that will break down the 2011 Florida Gator team.
With most of the offensive talent from this year’s recruiting class already committed or enrolled, we can begin to speculate on what Charlie Weis’ offense might look like in 2011 and what players will find their way into the lineup.
You cannot open any conversation about an offense without first addressing the quarterback situation. As disappointing as it may be, the odds are that Johnny Brantley will be the starting quarterback by the time fall arrives.
It is obvious that Brantley showed the previous coaching staff plenty over the past three years in practice for him to beat out Cameron Newton at the backup quarterback position in 2008 and be handed the keys to the offense in 2010. At this point, knowing what we know now, this decision was a real head-scratcher.
It may be time for the red jersey to come off of Brantley this spring and summer, so he can compete like every situation is a game situation. His lack of contact in his first three years obviously led his coaching staff to believe he could manage the position competently—we all know how that turned out.
With Charlie Weis bringing a pro-style offense to Gainesville, the change at the tailback position may be the most evident. Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, Mike Blakely, Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown are all considered running backs on the current roster.
Chris Rainey has slowly moved to a wideout position, which is where he will see the most playing time next year.
Demps and Blakely are very similar in size and ability. They will both be used in similar roles, with Demps probably seeing the bulk of the playing time. You would expect about ten to twelve carries a game from this speed running back position.
Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown fit into a pro-style offense better than any of the other backs. Neither are huge in stature, but both can run off tackle and square up their shoulders better than anyone on the roster.
Mack Brown appears to be the favorite to take over the true tailback position, but look for a rotation if one cannot win the position outright. The power back position is likely to get 15-20 carries a game.
The wide receiver position is as equally loaded with personnel as the running back position, with no true leader to win the starting spot.
Deonte Thompson is destined to be a good receiver at some point, but time seems to be running out. Andre Debose looks to be a strong leader at the slot. Debose’s biggest problem seems to be that he is in between positions and is struggling to find an identity. If he works hard as a wideout, Weis could make him very rich in the next few years.
Other wide receivers that could play big roles in next year’s offense are Frankie Hammonds, Omarius Hines and Stephen Alli, who has incredible size for a receiver (6’5 – 220).
Solomon Patton, Quinton Dunbar, Robert Clark and Chris Dunkley were all highly touted freshmen in last year’s class and provide a terrific rotation of receivers across the field.
The Gators have no shortage of skill players, but as you can see, there will be plenty of position battles that will play out during the spring and fall. The current roster has about 10 players that are similar in size with the same skill set. The offensive coaches will have their hands full with finding the actual playmakers in the bunch.
Weis' first offense in Gainesville might be full of a lot of short passes and quick throws from Johnny Brantley (or whoever ends up being the starting quarterback).
There will be a strong emphasis on running the football, which is always evident in a pro-style offense, as well as toughness. The passing game will rely heavily on quick receivers and catching the ball in space.
As the season progresses and playmakers emerge, look for the offense to be better than expected.
A look at the 2011 Florida Gator offensive line to follow…