Florida Football 2011: Assessing John Brantley and the Gators After Spring Ball

John PattonContributor IApril 10, 2011

Chris Rainey avoids Josh Evans in Saturday's "Orange & Blue Debut"
Chris Rainey avoids Josh Evans in Saturday's "Orange & Blue Debut"Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Exiting Florida's "Orange & Blue Debut" on Saturday afternoon, John Brantley remains the Gators' starter at quarterback.

However, the rising senior on the Orange didn't exactly make memories in The Swamp with his 4-for-14, 45-yard passing effort playing one half of the Spring game, won 13-10 by the Blue. That said, Brantley compiled a near 70-percent completion percentage during practices leading up to the game and looked more comfortable running new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis's pro-style offense than former coach Urban Meyer's spread option.

So, who shined as UF concluded its first set of practices under new coach Will Muschamp in front of an announced crowd of 53,000 at Florida?

Here are 12 who made an impact.

Tyler Murphy- The redshirt freshman was allowed to show off his skills for the first time in front of Gator fans and provided a glimpse into what he can do throwing and running with the ball. Quarterbacking the Orange team, Murphy completed 7-of-11 passes for a team-high 68 yards with a touchdown (a 10-yarder to sophomore walk-on running back Ben Sams) and an interception. Rushing statistics for quarterbacks are slightly askew in this game, as they wore non-contact tops. Still, if you take away two sacks for 16 yards, the speedy Murphy had four carries for 19 yards. Murphy also earned the praise of teammates after the game. Sophomore wide receiver Robert Clark told the assembled media: "I especially like Tyler Murphy because he has stepped up a whole lot. He has gotten a whole lot better."

Sharrif Floyd- The sophomore defensive tackle recorded a co-game-high four tackles, three of which were for losses totaling 11 yards. The Philadelphia native also broke up a pass. He has a quick burst and his very strong at the point of attack. "(The Spring) began (well) and ended even better," Floyd told the media after the game. "Coaches have been telling us all year to start fast and end fast, so that's what I did."

Josh Evans- Will Hill's replacement at free safety, the rangy Evans tied Floyd with a game-high four tackles and also broke up a pass.

Chris Rainey- The senior tailback finished the game with five carries for 26 yards (5.1 ypc) with a long of 21. Rainey was the only healthy scholarship back playing in the game (fellow burner Jeff Demps competes for the track team in the Spring). On one play, he made sophomore strong safety Matt Elam, a good tackler, whiff completely, according to Muschamp. "(Rainey is) a good football player," Muschamp told the assembled media after the game. "He's special with the ball in his hands. He's got tremendous vision."

Kyle Christy & David Lerner- The projected replacement for All-American Chas Henry, Christy, a true freshman from Indiana, booted a 55-yard punt (tying the game record set by Nick Fleming in 2003) for the Blue team and a 38-yarder for the Orange. Also faring well was Christy's competition, walkon Lerner, who had a 37-yard punt for the Blue and a 49-yarder for the Orange.

Lynden Trail- A 6'7" redshirt freshman defensive end from Miami, Trail tied four other Blue teammates with a team-high three tackles. One of those was an 8-yard sack of Murphy.

Robert Clark- A sophomore who spent most of his first season on campus playing special teams, Clark had one catch for the Orange—a 39-yard touchdown pass from Murphy—to go along with a 9-yard reception for the Blue. Clark added two kickoff returns for 51 yards.

Chris Martin- The transfer from California recorded two tackles for the Blue, one of which was an 8-yard sack of Murphy. A 6'4", 240-pound redshirt freshman, Martin primarily played defensive end in the Spring, but he also can line up at outside linebacker.

Quinton Dunbar & Stephen Alli- Praised by Muschamp as a potent downfield threat, Dunbar had two receptions for a team-high 21 yards, playing for the Blue. Alli, a 6'5", 220-pound redshirt sophomore receiver, caught two passes for an Orange-high 31 yards, including a long reception of 22 yards.

Caleb Sturgis- After missing the final nine games of the 2010 season with an injury, the senior placekicker went 3-for-3 on Saturday, nailing field goals of 21, 43 and 33 yards.