Florida Football: Why John Brantley Is Key to a Gators Upset vs. Alabama

Joseph HealyCorrespondent IOctober 1, 2011

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Quarterback John Brantley #12 of the Florida Gators attempts a pass during a game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide find themselves as the prohibitive favorite heading into their SEC showdown with Florida this Saturday.

They will come into the Swamp in Gainesville as the third-ranked team in the nation and you would be hard-pressed to find a more talented defense anywhere, except LSU of course.

They've even gotten things going on offense. A.J. McCarron has distanced himself from Phillip Sims at quarterback and Trent Richardson is off and running.

But it would be ludicrous to say that the Gators have no shot to win. Their defense has been almost as good as Bama's and they've done a good job of utilizing all of their offensive weapons.

The biggest key for pulling the upset on Saturday, though, will be quarterback John Brantley.

The much-maligned passer has been a steady hand in charge of the Gators offense thus far. He hasn't thrown for big yardage, but he has completed 64 percent of his passes and he has avoided throwing interceptions for the most part.

Most of all, he has given the Gators' dynamic duo at running back, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, room to work. Those two might be the two fastest players in college football. Both had struggled to find their role in the offense in previous seasons, but things are clicking now.

The Crimson Tide will be ready for those two. No coach game plans as well as Nick Saban. They will find a way to slow down those two at the very least. That's where Brantley comes in. The Gators will need him to take on more playmaking responsibility.

If the Tide key in on stopping Demps and Rainey, which I think they will, there might be some opportunities for some big plays down field in the passing game.

If they have success doing that, they may be able to go back to the running game later on.

Nothing will come easily against the Alabama defense, but John Brantley will have a chance to step up into a bigger role and lead his team to a huge win.