College Football 2011: A Look at the Florida Gators' Quarterback Situation

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College Football 2011: A Look at the Florida Gators' Quarterback Situation
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
The one-time mentor of Tom Brady, Jimmy Clausen and Matt Cassel, Charlie Weis will look to turn around John Brantley's fortunes.

Through the years, the University of Florida has been the home to many great college quarterbacks. That success hasn't really translated to the NFL (Tim Tebow is to be determined), but still, who wouldn't have taken Danny Wuerffel to run a non-Wishbone offense?

With that said, the Gators enter the 2011 season with a second-year starter at quarterback in redshirt senior John Brantley. The expectations are pretty high, as they were last year when Brantley took over for Tebow.

Here's a look at Brantley and his fellow UF passers.

John Brantley, RSr.

 Many Florida fans would argue there was much more not to like than to like about Brantley's junior season. They point to two numbers—10 and nine (as in the number of interceptions and touchdowns he threw)—as their primary ammunition.

There also was the fact that he didn't have a run longer than 12 yards, and that he didn't throw deep much, averaging a little more than 10 yards per completion.

The problems with the interception-touchdown ratio, I completely get. Brantley has too much ability to have put up those totals.

However, on the other two points: first, he isn't much of a runner, and second, he ran the plays called for him.

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Tyler Murphy runs through an attempted tackle in April's "Orange & Blue Debut."
New offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has removed Brantley from the square peg/round hole fit that was a 6'3", 220-pound drop-back passer in the spread offense, and has installed a pro-style system that should be more conducive to Brantley's skillset.

Now, it's up to Brantley, who did complete better than 60 percent of his passes in 2010, to show last year's troubles were more about the offense and not the quarterback.

If he doesn't, these three guys (as well as possibly Jordan Reed and Trey Burton) will be waiting.

 

Tyler Murphy, RFr.

It is said that the backup quarterback often is the most popular player on a team to fans.

That's because if a starter struggles, the second-team QB always seems to look so prepared and into the game, standing next to the head coach while relaying a variety of hand signals prior to each play.

So, if Brantley has more of the same issues that plagued him last season, expect the always-vocal fanbase in The Swamp to demand more snaps for the 6'2", 192-pound Murphy.

Who will be Florida's starting quarterback at midseason?

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Murphy is an outstanding athlete who threw for more than 1,100 yards and ran for more than 1,100 yards in his prep career at Wethersfield (Conn.) High School. He also won the triple jump at Connecticut's Open State Track Meet with a leap of 46'7".

But because Gator fans have yet to see him do anything beyond the spring game, Murphy is at this point a mystery. But like any good mystery novel, he is worth taking a look at.

Beyond his athleticism, know that Murphy has had a personal quarterback coach that has helped him hone his skills. It's also obvious Weis and new head coach Will Muschamp see something in Murphy as a quarterback or he would have been asked to switch positions like Reed (back to tight end) and Burton (to running back) were.

 

Jeff Driskel, Fr.

Florida's most hyped quarterback signee since Tebow in 2006, Driskel was the No. 1 QB in the prep class of 2011, according to both rivals and scouts.

A run-pass threat, Driskel helped turn Oviedo Hagerty from a program born just five years ago into a playoff team. As a senior Driskel had 1,819 yards and 15 touchdowns passing, 1,333 yards with 20 touchdowns rushing and also caught a pair of touchdown passes.

Provided John Brantley opens the 2011 season as UF's starting quarterback, who should be No. 2?

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In all, the 6'4", 238-pounder accounted for 4,844 passing yards and 36 touchdowns in his prep career, despite spending his first couple of seasons with the Huskies running around without much support.

Driskel arrived in January, so he has already had a spring to learn Weis's offense and possibly challenge Murphy for the No. 2 quarterback job.

And if he earns that, you know what they say about the backup quarterback...

 

Jacoby Brissett, Fr.

A talented prospect from prep-powerhouse Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer, Brissett won't arrive in Gainesville until the summer.

At 6'5", 225 pounds, he can't match the athleticism of Murphy or Driskel, but he isn't a statue, either.

Also a finalist for the Florida Dairy Farmers' Mr. Basketball award as a senior, it can't be said that Brissett isn't a competitor.

In the past, former Gator tailback Emmanuel Moody had his willingness to compete questioned when he transferred to UF, rather than try to work his way up a loaded depth chart at Southern California, where he originally signed.

Which of these quarterbacks who have yet to play a snap for UF are you most interested in watching?

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Rated as rivals' No. 3 dual-threat quarterback prospect nationally, Brissett seemingly was set to go to Miami or possibly LSU, Notre Dame, Wisconsin or Washington (each of whom he visited), until Weis made signing the strong-armed prospect a personal project.

Then, what seemed like a far-fetched scenario (Brissett inking with the Gators with Driskel already on campus) became reality.

Because he will have had less time with the new coaching staff than Driskel, Brissett will enter the fall looking like a probable redshirt candidate. However, anything is possible. After all, in November of 2010, when former Gator coach Urban Meyer told Brissett that UF would like to have him grayshirt (sit out the fall and arrive in January of 2012), it appeared Florida was all but out of the race to land him.

If anything, he'll be ready to compete.

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