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After weeks of being a decoy, QB John Brantley finally got the ball on this five-yard touchdown reception from Jordan Reed. (AP photo)
For weeks, Gators coaches have been asked when they’re going to call a pass to John Brantley. The Florida quarterback has been lining up in the slot a times to confuse defenses. Before the bye week, he and freshman Trey Burton would both come to the huddle and then line up hoping the defense didn’t have time to adjust.
Since the bye week, they have often lined up, switched after the QB gets the read and then snapped the ball before the defense can adjust to the change in quarterback.
When Brantley stays in the slot, it has given the defense a one-man advantage. If the Gators don’t throw to him, that’s one less guy opposing teams have to cover.
Saturday, they finally did.
Reed found Brantley alone in the right corner of the end zone after the Appalachian State corner left him open.Brantley caught the ball and got both feet in before falling out of bounds.
“We’ve had that for a while. I actually saw the corner just disregarding him, so we called it,” said coach Urban Meyer. “Might be his last one.”
The reaction, on Twitter at least, was that it was a waste to make that call vs. the Mountaineers. Why not do it against a better opponent?
Center Mike Pouncey said the Gators wanted to throw it to Brantley last week but couldn’t get the offense going vs. South Carolina.
Against an FCS opponent, was it a waste? No.
Florida’s three quarterbacks fit certain roles. Brantley is the passer, Burton the option guy and Reed the single-wing QB. Not surprisingly, that makes them somewhat predictable for defenses. The more things they can do to get away from their tendencies, the more successful they can be.
“Trey Burton, when he’s in, is going to have to throw the ball some,” ESPN analyst Todd Blackledge told me this week. “They’re going to have to throw (Brantley) the ball once or twice.”
The Gators face Florida State next, and it’s unlikely the Seminoles will be seriously worried about Brantley catching touchdowns. But, if they take any time in practice to prepare for that this week or if they cover the Gators differently with him in the slot, that touchdown pass – even against Appalachian State – was worth it.