Brantley Breaks Out

The 2009 Orange and Blue Game was very different than last year's for John Brantley. A year ago he was part of a competition for the backup quarterback job and had never taken a snap during a real game, so expectations were milder. This time, as the clear cut number two and likely successor to Tim Tebow, Brantley needed to demonstrate his readiness for the job.

He achieved that and more, displaying deep ball ability as good as anything seen in The Swamp during the Spurrier era. For both Brantley and the Florida offense, the future looks very bright.

Brantley threw three touchdowns while operating both offenses at various points during the O and B game. The pocket passer even showed some wheels, evading defensive lineman William Green and then racing outside for a 15-yard scoring run. It was the culmination of positive momentum he had built up during the last week of drills under new quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler.

"I've learned a lot this spring," said Brantley. "Coach Loeffler's taught me so much, and hopefully this summer I can just keep building on that and have a good season."

According to Florida coach Urban Meyer, one area Brantley has grown is in his mental approach during a game.

"I have seen great development with him," said Meyer. "The big question for him was his management skills. Being able to... not pout when he has a bad play or get angry with himself so that it takes two series to get it out of his system. That was his history here."

"That was one of the big things I worked on this spring," said Brantley. "He reminds me of it everyday and that was one of my main goals coming into spring is to forget a bad play and move on to the next one. Keep playing and keep your teammates up."

Lots of quarterbacks transfer every season in college football because there's only one position available. Rather than chafe at the idea of having to wait another season behind Tebow before getting to start, Brantley welcomes the additional time for growth.

"Hanging out with Tim, sitting behind the Heisman Trophy winner and two time national champion, I'm going to learn a couple of things. It's been nice."

"College football is a completely different game," Brantley added. "It's much faster, there's much more that goes into it, and I'm very happy that I didn't get thrown into the mix right away."

Meyer said Florida's offense will evolve once Brantley takes charge under center, featuring fewer designed quarterback runs than it does with Tebow.

"He is a little bit of a dual threat, but he won't get the big chunks that Tebow does."

For his part, Brantley welcomes getting to carry the ball a little bit.

"It's not my style, but it's pretty fun to run around and act like a little back sometimes."

Brantley won't be doing any running for a little while. He will have surgery on his right ankle next Monday to fix a partially torn tendon that's bothered him since last season, but shouldn't have any problem being ready for fall.

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