Brantley Feels Prepared for First Test

He isn't sure how it would have turned out if he was thrown to the wolves at Death Valley last October. Florida legendary quarterback Tim Tebow was knocked unconscious on the road at Kentucky last season and John Brantley was able to come in and complete the game. There was a mystery for two weeks whether Tebow would play on the road at LSU the following game, Brantley is glad Tebow was able to.

The confidence level in Florida junior starting quarterback John Brantley is at a high right now. That confidence may have been a little glossed over a year ago when he was almost forced into starting on the road against a major SEC foe. It didn't happen, and Brantley is not so sure how he would have done back then.

"I would say I wasn't ready, but I think I am ready now," Brantley told the media Friday about being a leader on the 2009 Florida team. "I felt like I was ready, but (now) not sure I was. It is always tough to go in any other person's house and playing them, especially an LSU type of team. I studied them and watched plenty of film and did everything I was told to, who knows."

No matter what would have happened, Brantley knows he would have had the support of his teammates. He is seeing that even more now as he has taken the reins of the Florida offense for the 2010 season.

"I think in any circumstance, all the players rally around the quarterback," he said. "We all rallied around Tim and I think you could say they do the same with me. I rally around all of the other guys...they really help me out and I give all the credit to them."

He will have his teammates behind him now that he has waited three years to be in charge of Urban Meyer's offense. Brantley believes his time spent grooming to be the man in the Florida offense was time well spent.

"I am happy that I redshirted my first year and got to sit the first three years," he said. "I got to grow up and mature and really just learn the game. Going out in this camp has really gotten a lot easier out there for me in practice. I think I have matured a lot."

He expects things will be easier because of his maturation.

"Managing the game...when to do stuff, when to throw down the field, when not to throw down the field," he said. "Until you actually do it, it will be tough to actually do."

It has been a fall camp for him to grow as well as his teammates. Brantley said the offense has really blossomed in the last three weeks and Saturday's scrimmage is where he wanted to see some of the progress take shape.

"I am just looking at seeing our players get better," he said. "They've improved every day. I want them to come out and perform well and get better."

He likes what he has seen from the running backs. It is a position that assistant coach Stan Drayton said has no choice but to know how to protect the quarterback if they are going to get on the field.

"They all run hard, Jeff Demps, Emmanuel Moody, Mike Gillislee, and Mack Brown all run hard," Brantley said. "They know what they are doing. They are always getting better."

He has also grown close to the group of receivers he will be throwing the ball to on Saturdays. One senior in particular was asked about on Friday.

"I have a real good chemistry with all of them really," Brantley said of the receivers. "They can all be play makers in my eyes really. Carl Moore was looking really good. He made quite a few good catches out there. He comes out there every day working hard."

Brantley isn't going to be asked to run like Tebow was, however running the ball is still going to be something any Gator quarterback has to be able to do. Brantley said he has definitely gotten some work at it this fall. He'll also need it when he has to tuck it and run when a play falls apart.

"I am not too quick or anything like that," he said laughing when talking about his ability. "Once I start running scared I can really get going. A little bit here and there I guess you could say.

"We have some great defensive linemen. All of them are fast and strong, that's not really what I am so I am always scared I guess you could say. But, I have that great offensive line that protects me and I trust them all. That makes sitting in the pocket a lot easier."

One backup that has gotten his share of running this fall, and especially in the scoring, is true freshman quarterback Trey Burton. On Friday, Burton commanded a great deal of the ball, especially in goal line situations, saving Brantley from those situations a few times.

"I don't know what the split would be but I know he did a great job today at the goal line," Brantley said of Burton. "He loves to run the ball and always told me that. He got a big chance to do that today and he did a great job."

The Gators will start the season as the fourth rated team in the country according to the Associated Press poll. Brantley says his team is so focused, it doesn't matter where they are ranked at this time of the year.

"We really don't care," he said. "We are just trying to take it one game at a time and concentrate on Miami of Ohio right now."


Brantley has found it a little difficult to pick on one side of the field when a certain cornerback is out there. Junior Janoris Jenkins enters the season with some all conference and all American honors. Brantley understands the accolades for Jenkins.

"Janoris is a great corner," Brantley said. "He will be one of the best in the country this year. To be able to go against him it will help us out for the season. He has done a great job and looking for a great season from him. He hasn't gotten me yet, because I just know how he works sometimes."

When asked to describe what it is Jenkins does that is so special, Brantley was at a loss.

"I don't know what goes on and how cornerbacks work, but seeing him out there making plays every day...not many people can do that," he said.
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