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Monday October 24, 2011Brantley Return Could Provide Gator offense With Necessary Boost

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators’ offense appears set to receive the kind of boost it has needed since starting quarterback John Brantley suffered a severe ankle injury against Alabama.

That boost is Brantley himself.

Florida coach Will Muschamp said Monday that Brantley “is probable for the game’’ on Saturday against Georgia in Jacksonville.

Brantley suffered a right ankle injury in a 38-10 loss to Alabama on Oct. 1 when he was sacked late in the second quarterback by Courtney Upshaw. Since he was injured, the Gators have managed only 17 points in 10 quarters, including road losses at LSU and Auburn.

“We feel like John will be ready to go for the game,” Muschamp said. “He was really playing well against a very good defense [when he got hurt]. Getting him back is going to be a huge psychological shot for our football team. I really believe that.''

Brantley has worn a protective boot on his lower right leg since the injury and has “lived in the trainer’s room’’ according to Muschamp. The intense rehab schedule allowed Brantley to return to the practice field during the bye week to participate in some light drills.

“He did throw some there on the practice field,’’ said Muschamp, who emphasized that Brantley wasn’t practicing with the team but on his own to test the ankle. “He did some throwing motion stuff and worked on a couple of drops here and there just to see how the ankle took. We are very pleased with his progress.

“He has worked extremely hard to get back for this week.’’

Barring any setbacks, Brantley will play Saturday for the first time since the best half of his college career. Before getting hurt against Alabama, Brantley threw for 190 yards in two quarters against the Crimson Tide, a career high for passing yards in a half.

He opened the game with a 65-yard touchdown pass to Andre Debose on the Gators’ first drive.

If for some reason Brantley is unable to go Saturday, Muschamp said the combo of true freshmen Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will continue to split reps and prepare as if they will play. In the past 10 quarters with Driskel and Brissett, Florida has not led at any point, managing only 453 yards of total offense in that span.

With Brantley expected to return, Muschamp hopes to see better play around the fifth-year senior quarterback. Muschamp said the Gators spent the bye week on returning to the basics in hopes of snapping a three-game losing streak on Saturday against the Bulldogs. Florida has not won since improving to 4-0 with a 48-14 victory at Kentucky on Sept. 24. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have won five consecutive games after a 0-2 start.

“We had a good open week,’’ Muschamp said. “We really worked hard on fundamentals. I thought the players had a great attitude. I think we’ve got a good head start on where we need to go.’’


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