Weis Surprised by Brantley's Health

Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis didn't know what he would get out of John Brantley at practice this week. The early results surprised him. Brantley's progress caught Weis off guard after the first two days of practice. It still isn't a guarantee that he will start on Saturday, but Weis believes that is what will happen.

"We're cautiously optimistic it's going to be him, but you have to plan," Charlie Weis said after Tuesday's practice. "He could come in tomorrow and it could be all swollen up and not walking. You're cautiously optimistic. You can't just go in planning on it's just him. You can't think that way. We're geared towards multiple options."

The increased production from Brantley helped Weis grow more comfortable that he will be under center at the start of Saturday's game in Jacksonville. The coaches will lean on the Florida training staff to help make the decisions about whether Brantley will play, but Weis is only looking for one thing. If the trainers say he is fine, Weis just wants Brantley to be healthy enough to efficiently run the offense.

"They have to be able to run the offense," Weis said. "A big part of running the offense is throwing the ball on time, effectively and effectively. That's one of the reasons the arrow is pointing up, because he has had a productive week so far."

A healthy Brantley would also force Georgia to respect the pass game more than opposing defenses did in recent weeks with a freshman at quarterback. When that happens, it should open up running lanes for Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, after the two have been bottled up in recent weeks.

Weis has also noticed a change in tune about the Brantley situation.

"All of the people who wanted him out of here now can't wait to get him back. Isn't that funny how that story changes?" Weis quipped.

If Brantley isn't healthy enough to play, Weis said Jacoby Brissett would get the start based on recent performances in games and practices.

"At LSU, the environment didn't overwhelm him," Weis said. "That's a bit surprising. You haven't played one snap all year and go to that place. I'm not saying we did a great job on offense, but it wasn't too much for him. I was very encouraged with his presence and how he ran the team."

Weis also clarified that he isn't down on Jeff Driskel. Despite being named the backup during fall camp, Driskel hasn't been able to keep the backup job this season. Weis said that is largely because of the sprained ankle he suffered against Alabama, which limited his reps in the week before Florida traveled to LSU.

Brissett has run with the opportunity of increased playing time in practice.

"It's a combination of Jacoby getting better and Jeff getting banged up," Weis said. "Both of these young men have a very bright future. I'm looking forward to what is to come with them."

The Brantley injury hurt the team's chances this season, and while it was disappointing for Weis to see his starting quarterback go down, he's also aware of the future benefits.

"The downside of John getting hurt is losing your quarterback when things were going well, especially in the pass game," Weis said. "The flip side of it is you've got experience for those two guys that you don't have to go through last year. They've already experienced it in the last few weeks."

The bye week gave Brantley an extra week to heal, but it also provided a chance for the entire team to take a deep breath and regroup. The health part of it was important, as the Gators got banged up at Auburn, but Weis credited the psychological aspect as being more important.

The losses to Alabama and LSU weren't close. The Gators were blown out in both of them, but that wasn't the case in Auburn. Weis said that loss hurt a little more than most.

Being able to use the off week to rest injuries was an added incentive, as Weis said this is the healthiest the team has been since before the start of the season.

"It's not close," Weis said. "Demps has been out, but he's not out. Debose has been banged up, but he's not banged up. We're in pretty good shape."

The Florida-Georgia rivalry is somewhat foreign to Weis. As for most people who watched from afar in recent years, Weis knows mostly about the 2007 game, where Georgia rushed the field and celebrated in the end zone after its first touchdown. Weis joked that he "might've seen it once or twice" on the screens of the football facility this week.

"I just remember watching the game a few years ago when 9,000 guys were partying in the end zone," Weis said. "That caught me off guard. I wasn't here, but I'm sure there are a lot of people who might remember that."

The news of Robert Clark and Gerald Christian transferring broke Tuesday afternoon, and Weis said that he wishes the two well as they look for a new place to play.

"Both of them surprised me," Weis said. "They practiced last week every day. You'd think if you were going to quit, you'd quit last week. Why would you go through bye week practice? That caught me off guard."

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