Brantley Expects a Breakout

Don't tell John Brantley that the end is near in terms of the Florida offense. A poor showing through the first half of the season on the offensive side of the ball has left a lot of folks wondering what has gone wrong and doubting it can work. A dinged up Brantley fought through pain to try and win the last two and a half games and expects the gators to fight and get it right.

Florida's junior quarterback was banged up pretty bad against Alabama three games ago. He won't let on just how bad he is hurting though.

"I feel pretty good," John Brantley told the media earlier in the week. "Each week I am sore, but nothing to worry about."

He isn't the only one. The top two tailbacks on the roster missed all week of practice, the offensive line is still mending from the preseason. And various other injuries have made the offense somewhat of a M*A*S*H unit for the first half of the season.

"We are a little banged up and hopefully the bye week will do us well," Brantley said. "We just want everyone healthy when we go to Jacksonville to play against Georgia."

Mired in the doldrums on offense, head coach Urban Meyer told the press after the loss to Mississippi State last week that there could be some big changes in store after the bye week. According to Brantley, they won't be revamping the entire offense.

"We're trying a few things out, nothing too major," he said. "We just want to execute the plays we've got. There will be some little things, nothing that will be too obvious."

Watching game film is tough the last few weeks as the Gators are on a three game slide for the first time since 1988, before most of the players were even alive. Brantley is trying to learn to just put it behind him.

"I've watched the games and it gives me a sick feeling in my stomach," he said. "We are just concentrating on the next team. We will learn from those mistakes we watch and get ready for the next opponent."

Brantley wants folks to understand that he knows he is supposed to be the leader of this team, win or lose. But, this team is not about to throw the issues on any player in the locker room.

"I put a lot on me…I'm the quarterback of the team," he said of the losing. "With our team we aren't going to point fingers. There is no one person responsible. We're going to stick together. I think we are going to turn things around and keep fighting."

With respect to where he should be, Brantley says he and the staff are understanding of his maturation so far in the offense. He was asked if he is where he should be with the learning curve for a new quarterback.

"I would say so," he said. "I am not sure…Coach Loeffler likes to think so. I would say so and Coach Loeffler thinks so and says he is proud of me."

Brantley never saw any of the troubles on offense coming. Spring and fall practice leading up to the season seemed smooth and like the offense was ready to assert itself. He expects to get to the point where they thought the offense would be. It is a lot of mistakes, but getting past those mistakes, they can see plays happening on the game film.

"I am surprised," he said about the play of the offense this season. "I didn't think (it would be this way) at all. I still am not doubting it at all, we just have to execute. We know the big plays are there, we just have to execute. That is why there won't be wholesale changes after the bye week.

"We could be a shoestring tackle away from hitting big. Just little things like that are keeping us from hitting big plays. We just have to keep doing what we know…we don't want to change things up too much and make things all new and confuse everybody."

That doesn't mean they are going to reduce the play book. The plan is to work on what they know and add a few wrinkles taking advantage of personnel.

"We aren't simplifying it down at all," he said. "We will probably add some things to fit our players better, but we're just trying it out right now.

Brantley also doesn't expect a massive change in the personnel used from week to week.

"The guys on the field are great players, we have great players here," he said. "We're going to keep with our guys. I trust all the guys on the field with me and I wouldn't trust anyone else out there with me.

"We just have to execute. We have great plays, we just have to go out there and work hard during the week and try and get better."

The Gators play Georgia next week. The Bulldogs started off 1-4, but have been are now at 3-4 and a two game winning streak. They handled Vanderbilt last week and looked potent on offense in the process.

"I got to catch a little glimpse of when they played Vanderbilt and they played well against them," he said.

As for the negative air around the program because of the spotty play on the field. Brantley offered up more of his sense of humor when asked if it was tough listening to Gator fans talk bad about the team while walking around campus.

"They didn't notice me before, they don't notice me now," he said referring back to questions in the summer about him being the star quarterback and the big shot on campus.
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