Brantley may have to share playing time
Now, he might have to share the position.
Coach Urban Meyer plans to play two quarterbacks this fall, much like what the Gators did with starter Chris Leak and Tebow in 2006.
"We're going to try and play two quarterbacks this year," Meyer said. "We have to. On third-and-3, we know what we want to do, and John probably is not going to do it because he's not that kind of player."
So those single-wing formations that became a staple of Florida's offense during Tebow's tenure aren't leaving with the former Heisman Trophy winner. The Gators have turned those short-yardage plays over to freshman Trey Burton and tight end Jordan Reed.
With running back Jeff Demps missing spring practice to concentrate on track and backup Emmanuel Moody missing time because of injuries, Burton and Reed have gotten the bulk of the work in goal-line and Wildcat formations. They've had success, too.
"Everyone says we ran Tim because he's a great player. That's partially true. The other part is single-wing offense gives you plus one in the run game," Meyer said. "Jordan Reed has proven he can do it, and Trey Burton can run well, too. This is the year I think we actually will play two like we played Tim and Chris Leak."
Together, Leak and Tebow led Florida to the 2006 national championship. Leak handled most of the passing plays, and Tebow built a reputation as a bruising runner capable of bowling over linebackers, picking up first downs and scoring touchdowns.
Tebow took over the following year and has taken every meaningful snap since. Meyer opened each one of those talking about getting another quarterback involved, but Tebow's ability and desire to stay on the field made it difficult for Brantley or former Florida quarterback Cam Newton to get off the bench.
Brantley, who has 10 TD passes and an interception in 17 games, is widely considered a more prototypical passer than Tebow. But he weighs about 25 pounds less and doesn't have as much scrambling ability.
"He's doing fine. He's having a good spring," Meyer said. "He can really throw the football, but he's a guy who has to do a lot better in other things."
Brantley probably won't get many chances to run, and for good reason. Florida has no experience behind him and can't afford for Brantley to get injured.
That's a big reason Burton and Reed have gotten so much work.
Burton, a 6-foot-2, 219-pounder from Venice, enrolled in school in January in hopes of getting a head start on learning the offense and an advantage in the battle for the backup spot. Fellow freshman Tyler Murphy from Connecticut arrives in July and will be in the mix.
Reed probably could be entrenched as the backup, but he moved from quarterback to tight end late last season. The 6-3, 240-pound redshirt freshman from New London, Conn., has been one of the standouts this spring. And the tight end's athleticism and experience behind center prompted the coaching staff to use him in the trendy Wildcat formation.
The result should be the kind of quarterback rotation the Gators haven't had in years.
"We've expanded since '06," offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said. "It's an expanded package. We're going to have a pretty good Wildcat package 'cause we have some real good Wildcat people, personnel."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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