According to the Orlando Sentinel, John Brantley will return to Gainesville for his senior season.
This is good news for Florida, despite Brantley’s shaky (and that’s generous) 2010. Now, at least they don’t have to break in a first year starter. Even better, Brantley’s high school offense at Trinity was nearly identical to the one that Charlie Weis plans to use, and Brantley rode that pass happy offense to a National Player of the Year Award in 2006.
So we know that Brantley will be the man come that Florida Atlantic game.
What else do the Gators have to do in order to be successful under Will Muschamp?
1) Red Zone defense must be lights out
Obviously, we hope that no opponent ever gets inside the Forida 20, but face it, it’s going to happen. This is where the really good defenses and the fantastic defenses are separated- in the red zone.
The Gators cannot allow walk in touchdowns like they did during 2010. Because let’s face it, as awful as Steve Addazio’s offense was, the defense wasn’t exactly fantastic. Oh, it was decent, sure, but we Gator fans don’t like decency, do we? 8-5 is decent, and we’re all pissed off because we lost those 5 games. I’m not saying we should change; that’s just who we are.
Anyway, four plays in particular from last year stand out. The first two was Marcus Lattimore shooting through huge holes for TD’s, the third was Mark Ingram walking to the end zone via a gigantic gap on the right sideline, and the fourth- and probably most embarrassing- was the entire team either overpursuing Jordan Jefferson or getting pancaked allowing him to walk in for a TD on a play-action pass- right up the middle.
That’s just disgraceful. Watch for yourself if you can take it. The three plays I mentioned are at :46/2:54, 1:35, and 4:14
The red zone, for a defense as talented as the Gators, is where a team should be at its best. For also-ran teams like Rutgers, Penn State, Vanderbilt, etc. that’s not the case. But for the Gators- and especially for a defensive guru like Will Muschamp- the defense grows more comfortable.
Mainly because when a defense of this level of talent has its back to the wall, the opposing offense has less room to take deep shots. So now there are only two types of passes to defend: short passes that Muschamp’s defenses have been known to eat up, and the medium pass has limits because the safeties don’t have to worry about anything going over their heads. This is also why a deep pass isn’t an option.
2) Muschamp Has to Reestablish the Swamp
Perhaps the most embarrassing thing about 2010 was that Florida lost three night games in the Swamp, boom boom boom, to Mississippi State, South Carolina, and LSU, three historically mediocre teams (although in the last decade LSU has risen above mediocre).
Until last year, however, Urban Meyer was 32-2 at home. That’s got to resume with Muschamp. I can live with losing one game at home next year- Alabama. And I do believe that Florida should win that game at home. If it was a road game, I’d say that we have about a 2% chance.
But this is… the SWAMP. Home of the… FLORIDA GATORS. There are… EXPECTATIONS. And those expectations include winning about 95% of our home games.
If the Gators want a shot at the national championship, they’ve got to run the table at home, (including Georgia), they have to steal two of the three road games (South Carolina, Auburn and LSU) and avoid too many close calls against cupcakes like Kentucky, Vanderbilt, FAU, Furman, etc.
Which do you think is the easiest: going 7-0 at home, going 3-1 in SEC road games (the Gators also travel to Kentucky) and blasting 2 out of every 3 teams on the schedule?
Well, Florida must take the first step. I mean, if they go undefeated in the Swamp, the absolute worst they can do is 7-5. Then they have to take the next two steps.
But Urban Meyer couldn’t take the first step last year. Let’s see if he can make the Swamp a place where only Gators get out alive once again.
3) Muschamp has to develop his “thing”
I know, that’s kind of vague. Let me give yall examples. Charlie Pell first came up with the Gator Chomp. Steve Spurrier created the motto “The Swamp: Where Only Gators Get Out Alive”. Ron Zook invented, well, teasing Gator fans by hauling in great recruits and then underperforming like no other. Urban Meyer instituted the blue out against big opponents (which only failed once in 13 tries).
What’s Muschamp’s deal going to be?
Wouldn’t you think that a guy like Muschamp would have some exciting new things in store?
This is vital to recruiting, and Muschamp probably knows that. Recruits would love to hear “Come along to Florida, and join me as we set out to restore Gator football to what it was and more!” The recruit will probably ask what he means by “and more” because Florida won won 3 National Championships, and unless a playoff is instituted, there’s nowhere higher to go. So this is where Muschamp tells his recruits about his “thing”.
4) Florida has to snap the ball right
I know, I know, it’s over. Or is it? This may be obvious, but since we had an All-American guard not being able to snap it right last year, it’s worth a mention here. This shouldn’t be a problem, I really don’t think it will be at all, but you’ve got to be wary of it.
5) Florida’s ground game must hit the home run at least once a game
The threat has to be there. Demps, Rainey, Debose, Gillislee, Brown, Blakeley, the talent is here, Charlie Weis just has to use it.
The only problem I have with Charlie Weis- and it’s a major one- is that when he’s in a tight situation, his play-calling can be as predictable as Addazio’s (oh, no, it can’t be!!!) But Weis gets pass happy in crunch time, and stays with it every time.
As predictable as his game on the line play-calling might be, it’s still a major upgrade from Steve Addazio. So obviously I’d like to keep him here.
This is where the running game comes in. The Gators have to break off a big play early, so that smart defensive coordinators- especially Kirby- know that he risks a 70 yard TD run by blitzing, and the dumb ones, well, their defenses can’t be too good if they’re stupid because they’re probably at Furman.
6) Brantley must take a deep shot every first quarter
Again, this threat must be existent in order for the Gators offense to survive and thrive. Last year, the box was loaded with more explosives than the Enola Gay.
Obviously, Weis will probably be happy to do this so that every time the opposing DC calls a play, he’ll have to accept the risk of blitzing- again.
7) Offensive line must give Brantley/Driskel at least 4 seconds to throw 90% of his passes
The o-line was awful last year, even with 4 returning starters. For that, we can all blame Steve Addazio. But talent wasn’t the issue. Rather, it was scheming and knowing what to do and where to block. I’m not even sure Addazio knows what an a-gap is.
This year, it’s got to give Brantley ample time to make the type of plays that won him the Player of the Year Award in High School.
8) Brantley must make good decisions
Has anybody noticed how the last few topics have segued into this one? There’s a reason for that. I’ve tried defending Brantley, because he’s dealt with being a backup to Tim Tebow for three years only months after he was voted Player of the Year. Obviously, Florida wasn’t about to bench Tebow, but think about that for a minute. You blow everybody away in the National Player of the Year Award voting, you’re the top QB recruit in the nation, and suddenly, BAM!!! You’re sitting as the #3 QB behind Tim Tebow and Cameron Newton.
That would damage the confidence of pretty much everybody.
So I was patient with him, because he is pretty talented and grew up a UF fan.
But in all honesty, he was very inaccurate in crunch time. He made some terrible decisions, none worse than catching the deflected pass against South Carolina for a 15 yard loss. He’s got to learn to think better in big time situations.
9) Tim Tebow must be erased from the memories
You think it’s going to help Brantley’s confidence to see a big fat sign “TIM TEBOW, 2007 HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER”? Some say it might inspire him, but the guy’s self esteem is clearly as frail as the crystal ball that Florida dropped as a prank (well… there are all sorts of rumors about what really happened). Talking to Tebow on the phone to receive the news that Tebow believes in him is one thing, but being slapped across the face with a reminder of Tebow’s success is quite another.
Look. Tim Tebow was hands down the best player in the history of college football. But unfortunately, he no longer plays for the Florida Gators. Those days are over. Florida needs to concentrate on the HERE and NOW instead of remembering the glory of THEN. Because reliving past National Championships is not going to produce more in the future.
10) Special Teams must remain special
It’s no coincidence that Urban Meyer’s teams won all 16 games where they blocked a punt.
It’s no coincidence that Brandon James, the most dynamic kick/punt returner in the history of the game (well, he might share that distinction with Billy Cannon and Devin Hester) was a member of the most successful senior class of all time, either.
And it’s no coincidence that Chas Henry won the Ray Guy Award in Urban Meyer’s final season.
Looks to me Meyer had something going there.
Now it’s Muschamp’s turn to carry the torch that burns opposing special teams. He will run the defense and the special teams as well in 2011. The key is utilizing speed by putting the fastest guys on the edges to get the block, and Chris Rainey should return kicks and punts. At least, he’s the favorite for 2011 as of now.
Before I sign off, I want to publically blast any Florida fan who wants John Brantley’s head. You need to support him if you expect anything good in 2011. Remember in 2008 and 2009, when Tennessee fans started a site killjonathancrompton.com, and he started to really suck? And remember how he sucked any more once he received actual death threats?
You guys are classier than that. It’s different from Addazio, because he’s a professional who had called plays for 4 years prior to 2010 and had plenty of time to learn and correct himself. Rip on him all you please. But even with him, I don’t want to kill him.
So to the jerkoff who thinks he is being cute by putting up iwantbrantleysneck.com, take it down, if you haven’t already.
Support him, at least until it’s proven that he really does suck and that it wasn’t Addazio’s fault.