John Brantley was supposed to be UF’s next great quarterback. After sitting behind Tebow for three years, 2010 was going to bring us a new offense suited to Brantley’s dropback passing style, and he was going to light up the scoreboards.
Of course, what actually happened was the polar opposite of that. The offense was not adjusted, and Brantley was horrendous. Against SEC opponents plus FSU and Penn State he completed 52% of his passes at 6 yards per attempt with 5 TDs and 9 interceptions. Was his awful season the result of the horrific, poorly suited offensive system and play calling of Steve Addazio, or was it the result of John Brantley just not being very good?
The short answer is “both”. Obviously, Brantley was not put into a position to succeed. He was asked to run an offense that was suited to quarterbacks that are nothing like him, and a poor version of that offense at that. To make matters worse, we eventually went to a three QB system that often saw Brantley on the bench for two plays only to be called in to try and convert a 3rd and long. Any quarterback that makes the majority of their throws on 3rd and long is going to have poor efficiency numbers. And let’s not forget the horrific O-line play this season.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story about John Brantley. Brantley is an inaccurate passer that has difficulty reading the field, is afraid to take chances, and has almost no leadership capabilities.
People love to talk about the rotating quarterbacks not allowing Brantley to get into a rhythm, and there’s certainly some truth to that. But you don’t need rhythm to accurately throw a 3 yard crossing route or 5 yard out, and Brantley struggled even with those passes. Brantley’s decision making reminded me of Matt Leinart in the pros. A ‘captain checkdown’ who’s so quick to look for the underneath outlets that he never really even gives the downfield options a chance.
If Brantley chooses not to transfer, he’ll likely be Florida’s starting QB next year (at least out of the gates) in spite of a horrific 2010. Driskel won’t start as a true fresman, and Brantley is more suited to Weis’ pro-style offense than Reed is. His leash won’t be long, and regaining the confidence of his teammates (who were visibly upset with him in the FSU game) won’t be easy. Brantley was already a somber, poor leader even before his teammates gave up on him, and now that will only get harder.
The plus side is that I believe Brantley can be adequate in a pro style offense. Sure, his upside may be Doug Johnson (and not just because he wears #12 and his passes always sail high), but you can win 10 games with Doug Johnson and good coaching, as Florida did in ’97 and ’98. What Brantley needs is a simple offense with easy reads. But the most important fix for Brantley will be mental. If his confidence remains what it is right now then he will be useless, and we’ll see nothing but checkdowns out of him until he checks down to a comfy spot on the bench. Rebuilding a quarterback’s confidence is extremely difficult. Doing it with a quarterback as mentally weak as Brantley appears to be may be impossible, but it’s his only chance.
So what do you guys think, is Brantley just a victim of a bad offensive scheme that was not suited to him, or would he have failed even in a system built for him?