Florida Gators Football: Five Bold Predictions for John Brantley and the Offense
One year AT (After Timmy) and the Florida football team's offense had some bright moments (like beating then-undefeated Kentucky, 48-14, behind six touchdowns from freshman Trey Burton).
But the Gators also battled through some difficulties like they hadn't seen with two-time national champion and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow taking the snaps.
Among the less-than-memorable moments, including losing 10-7 to Homecoming opponent Mississippi State and combining for 23 first downs in home losses to Louisiana State and South Carolina (the Gamecocks put up 24 first downs alone against UF).
Senior John Brantley is expected to win the quarterbacking job over competition that includes redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy, as well as true freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett.
Here are five bold predictions for Brantley and the 2011 Gator offense.
Brantley Will Have More TDs Than Interceptions
As a junior John Brantley completed 200-of-329 passes for 2,061 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Running Charlie Weis' pro-style offense instead of Urban Meyer's spread option, look for Brantley to throw for at least three times as many touchdowns as interceptions next season.
Jeff Demps Will Have at Least Three TDs of 50+ Yards
The nation's fastest football player, Jeff Demps led Florida with 92 carries for 551 yards in 2010. But he had just three rushing touchdowns.
Helped by an improved passing game, look for Demps to use his otherworldly speed to have at least three touchdowns of 50 or more yards his senior year.
The Gators Will Start Faster
The Gators scored 191 points in the first half of games last year, which isn't so bad. However, when one considers 71 percent of that total (135 points) came in the second quarter, and it is easy to see Florida needs to open games better.
Look for new coach Will Muschamp and new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to push for quick starts, and expect UF to perform better than it did in 2010, where it only outscored the opposition 56-48 in the first period.
Deonte Thompson Will Hang on Better
As a motivational tool, former Gator coach Urban Meyer once said that receiver Deonte Thompson has yet to live up to the hype that made him a high school All American out of Belle Glade, Fla.
Sure, Thompson led Florida with 38 receptions for 570 yards last year, but he probably was more well-known for his problems catching the ball.
Look for the 6-foot, 200-pound Thompson to have a breakout senior year, becoming one of the best wide receivers in the Southeastern Conference. The drops won't go away completely, but they won't be the first thing anyone talks about any more.
Xavier Nixon Will Become a Star
Xavier Nixon has been a standout since stepping on the practice field as a Gator.
That's why the Fayetteville, NC native never saw a redshirt and has spent most of his career protecting either Tim Tebow or John Brantley at either of the two tackle spots.
Nixon has battled ankle injuries during spring practice, and the starting right tackle has missed some practices. However, look for the 6-foot-6, 290-pounder to show quick feet and a powerful push his junior season as he establishes himself as one of the league's best tackles.