Brantley Expected to Play

The Gators are expecting to get their leader back on Saturday. After sitting out the past two weeks with an ankle injury, senior quarterback John Brantley will rejoin the team on the practice field Monday and is probable to return against Georgia this weekend. The challenge now turns to Brantley getting back in a flow on offense.

"We feel like John will be ready to go for the game," Will Muschamp said Monday afternoon. "He continues to improve every day. It's the day-to-day process of being able to get back on the ankle the next day. He continues to improve."

John Brantley was expected to have a limited role in Monday's practice. He worked on his throwing motion and drop backs last week in practice but didn't participate in anything strenuous. Muschamp expects Brantley's reps to increase as they go through the week of practice to prepare him for Saturday.

Brantley's production isn't guaranteed after sitting out the last two weeks, but the boost he will give to the huddle is reason enough to play him if the medical staff clears him.

"Psychologically, having him in the huddle will be a huge asset," Muschamp said. "He's a leader of our team and is a guy that has been very productive. There is no question that he certainly gives us a psychological boost for our football team, on offense and defense too because that affects how the defense plays at times."

Before Brantley injured his ankle against Alabama, he was 11-for-16 for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He showed strides of growing into a quarterback capable of giving the Gators an offense more than capable of holding its own.

The loss of Brantley slowed things down because of the high level the senior was performing at.

"He threw for almost 200 yards in the first half, on third down conversions I think we had two dropped passes that would have been conversions for third downs and hit some deep balls," Muschamp said. "He was really just playing very well, managing our team, getting us in-and-out of the right runs, and if you really look at the first four-and-a-half ball games, he was playing very well."

The Florida coaching staff hasn't made any decisions about who the backup quarterback would be if Brantley gets injured or can't play.

"We have to give those guys turns and reps," Muschamp said. "They both had good weeks last week. We put pressure on those guys to continue to progress."

INJURY REPORT: Besides Brantley, the only players whose status is in doubt is cornerback Jeremy Brown. Muschamp said Brown will not play because of a knee injury that has limited him all season.

Muschamp said all other players hurt during the Auburn game were expected to practice this week and play against Georgia.

BYE WEEK IMPORTANCE: The bye week was important for a banged up Florida team that only started with Brantley's injury. He also had to refocus the team off a three-game losing streak.

"You never want to have a bye week after a loss, and we had three. It was very frustrating from that standpoint of living through that. But, again, you need to be technical about what you have done well, and what you haven't done well. You need to correct things that need to be correct, you need to build on the positive – which there have been some positives and continue to move forward with our team.

"We needed to get some guys healthy and we needed to get some guys out of the grind of the season. It's disappointing from the standpoint that we're coming off of three losses, it's always tough to have to sit through the weekend and not have an opportunity to go get it out of your mouth."

Muschamp gave the team time off last week. The team didn't practice the Sunday or Monday after the loss at Auburn. The coaches put the team through tough practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that focused on fundamentals. The team lifted together on Friday morning, and the players were released for the weekend.

Some players went home while others stayed in Gainesville. They met back in Gainesville for a team meeting on Sunday night.

"I thought we took a step forward," Muschamp said. "You either get better or worse when you get on the field. I thought we improved our football team and continued to step forward in what we need to do in being successful."

LOOKING AT GEORGIA: Muschamp beat the media to the punch at his Monday press conference. Instead of waiting around for questions about coaching against his alma mater this weekend, he addressed it in his opening statement.

"I know there will be a lot of wasted ink on the fact that I played at Georgia and now I'm coaching at Florida, but this is not the first time that I have coached against Georgia," Muschamp said. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity, and taking the Gators to Jacksonville."

On the field, the Georgia offense presents plenty of problems for Florida. Muschamp called tight end Orson Charles "a guy that can really stretch the field vertically." Wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Tavarres King also provide quarterback Aaron Murray with options to throw to.

Murray's arm gives the Bulldogs the option to throw downfield, and they try it often.

"You're going to get 10-12 shots in the game where they're going to stretch the field vertically, and you have to defend those balls," Muschamp said. "There's no question that this game will be a little different from the ones we've seen in the last two weeks especially, as far as what people are trying to down the field vertically. They have some guys that are talented outside. You have to defend the ball down the field."


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