Life after Tebow

The most celebrated player in the history of Florida football – maybe the history of college football – has taken his talents to the NFL. Don't look for the Gators to lapse into mediocrity anytime soon, though.

Tim Tebow's departure may have cost Florida the face of its program but head coach Urban Meyer still has some outstanding players on hand, including a replacement who just might be Tebow's equal at quarterback.

Backup John Brantley actually posted a better completion percentage (75.0 to 67.8) and a better passer-efficiency rating (194.9 to 164.2) than Tebow last fall. Seven of Brantley's 48 pass attempts went for touchdowns and none were intercepted. Although Brantley won't run for 910 yards – as the 6-3, 250-pound Tebow did last fall – at least one Gator believes the offense won't look a lot different in 2010 than it did in '09.

"We're going to pretty much be the same offense," senior center Mike Pouncey said. "We're not going to run our quarterback as much – he's not as big as Superman was – but we're looking for great things out of our offense. We have a lot of great skill players that are starting to emerge."

Strange as it sounds, even without Tebow, Florida still might boast the SEC's best QB. Brantley is THAT gifted.

"He looked really good in the spring," Pouncey said. "Me and him worked a lot this offseason about understanding transitioning…. He's been leading that skill-position group (receivers and running backs) and we're looking for a lot of great things out of John Brantley this season."

Defensive back Ahmad Black is another member of the John Brantley fan club.

"He's just a phenomenal athlete, and it's going to be exciting to see him play."

Even Urban Meyer seems convinced that there will be life after Tebow.

"We have a real clear understanding of what John Brantley can do," the Gators' head man said. "It's the guys around him (who must prove themselves). We have a lot of talent. I can't list you the top six or seven playmakers in order but I know we have them."

Those weapons should relieve the pressure on Brantley in 2010, just as Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Julio Jones relieved the pressure on first-year Alabama starting quarterback Greg McElroy in 2009. Thus, making sure Brantley's supporting cast performs well is a huge key.

"One common characteristic of a great quarterback is the personnel around him, " Meyer said. "I think we have it but it's not been identified yet."


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