Weis Proud of Brantley's Reclamation

Since Charlie Weis took the job at Florida, it's hard to remember a time he hasn't spoken glowingly of quarterback John Brantley. The two knew it would be a project to rebuild confidence and put in an offense the senior could thrive in. The toughest part was bringing back the confidence, but Weis is happy with the player his quarterback has become.

"I like the fact that when I got here, he was a beaten down young man that has stood as tall as you can possibly stand," Charlie Weis said after Tuesday's practice. "That's what I like more than anything else. You don't think these kids hear the boo birds? They hear it and take it to heart."

Weis has been adamant since he started working with Brantley that the quarterback's career won't come to an end after this season. Weis even joked about loving to have Brantley back in Gainesville with him for another year.

The bond between the two grew because of the maturation process Weis saw in Brantley off the field. With likely just four games left in his college career at Florida, Brantley is the leader of the team.

"There's no doubt the team looks to him as the leader," Weis said. "That's something I didn't know whether it would happen or not, but they definitely do."

The arm injury that Brantley suffered late in the Vanderbilt game shouldn't keep him out of this weekend's matchup with South Carolina. He was held out of practice on Monday, but Weis thought he could've gone if needed. It gave him one more day to rest and a chance for the younger quarterbacks to get reps.

He returned to practice on Tuesday.

One aspect that made it easy on Brantley's ankle against Vanderbilt was the implementation of the pistol formation. The Gators aren't running a pistol offense that Nevada has used in recent years. Instead, they're lining up in the formation and running the same run plays that the Gators have used all year to take the pressure of Brantley's ankle.

"We wanted to be able to run downhill, but I wanted to take the first three steps out," Weis said. "That's what you end up with. (Brantley's) back five yards, and the halfback is back eight yards instead of seven. It just fits with what we do."

Weis thought it fit well with Brantley and that he liked using it. There was thought to implement the formation for the Georgia game, but Brantley's ankle was only capable of dropping straight back. Turning to hand the ball off out of the pistol formation would have put more stress on the injured ankle.

"I wouldn't make the changes if he wasn't capable of adjusting," Weis said. "I don't do things the quarterback isn't capable of doing, even if I like the idea."

The Gators also made a change at the center position on Saturday. Jonotthan Harrison started at the position all year, but his snaps were low and throwing off the timing of the offense. Weis said that it didn't matter whether it was a run or pass play, the timing was thrown off when Brantley was forced to bend to catch a snap.

They moved Sam Robey into the game, and he has taken reps with the first team this week. However, Weis said no decision has been made on who will start.

With Chris Rainey held out against Vanderbilt, the Gators got some other players involved in the run game. Freshman fullback Hunter Joyer carried the ball three times for 17 yards and has shown signs of being a power runner for the Gators.

"His arrow is pointing way up," Weis said. "He's still figuring it out, but he's a football player with good intelligence. He's physical, and he's not even playing as physical as he can yet. I'm really high on Hunter."

Joyer was in on a season high 30 plays against Vanderbilt and didn't show one mental error. He's a player that Weis could see becoming a bigger part of the offense in the future.

"As your system evolves and your personnel changes, I think he'd be a great ‘pound it' runner," Weis said. "Just turn around and run inside zone to the right, and then run it to the left. We would be really good at that. He reads holes really well. He knows where to find the openings."

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