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John Brantley helps prepare new-look Florida Gators for spring football game

GAINESVILLE — Florida senior quarterback John Brantley has spent a month trying to learn a new offensive system, hold onto his starting job and keep a team-first mentality as he helps mentor young quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Tyler Murphy.

It's not the situation he envisioned when he took over the starting role last season but one Brantley has embraced.

"It is weird a little bit, but with helping each other out, I think you learn even more," Brantley said. "So if someone needs help, teaching them also helps you out and helps them out. We're working as a team, we're a team. We're fighting for a position, but we're all good buddies, and we're trying to help each other out and help the team be successful."

The Gators and their new staff have spent 14 days over the past month working extensively on installing new offensive and defensive systems, figuring out who does what best and how each player will be most effective.

Because Florida's spring practices were closed to the public, today is the first time anyone outside the athletic program will see what Florida might look like in the post-Urban Meyer era.

But don't expect a big preview of what you'll see in August. This remains a work in progress.

"More than anything, what we want to do is go out and have a very functional scrimmage," coach Will Muschamp said. "We want to execute on both sides of the ball. We need to see guys play in front of people. I think that's important to see how they respond in front of a good crowd, and obviously the Gator Nation will follow us well. So I think it's important for us to go out and play fast, play physical and play with toughness. And those are the things we'll be looking for, not looking to scheme anybody. … It's not going to be real flashy."

Throughout spring drills, Muschamp has sought one thing most: consistency. He insists the staff has seen plenty of talent. They've seen glimpses of future leaders and potential stars.

"We've done some really nice things at all positions at times, but the consistency of it is not what it needs to be," he said. "We've made a lot of improvements, but we have tremendous strides to make. Obviously because of the depth issues on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and some other positions, it can look poor at times."

With injuries, UF is down to seven healthy offensive linemen, and senior Chris Rainey is the lone healthy running back. Rainey said the new system is similar to what he ran in high school, making the transition easier.

"For me it's easy because I've been like that since high school," he said. "It's basically like the NFL. I love it. I'm comfortable in that system. All the other years, it's just been quarterback runs and stuff like that, so it'll give a different (look) for everybody."

For Brantley, who has been the focus of so much attention — positive and negative — since he took over last year from Tim Tebow, today will be like every other practice since March. It's a chance to prove he's up to leading this team — one more time. He's looking forward to it.

"From the scrimmage aspect, that's more gamelike reps, everything moves a little faster, and that definitely helps you out," he said. "Within this offense the only way you get better is through more reps, and that helps. Once you get into it and get in the playbook and study it, it gets easier and easier every day."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com. Follow her coverage at gators.tampabay.com.

.Today

Florida

spring game

When/where: Noon; Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 1250-AM

Cost: All general admission tickets are $5.

Notable: Fans are encouraged to arrive early for the first Will Muschamp-led Gator Walk, beginning at 9:30 a.m. At halftime, Florida will unveil the newly erected statues of its three Heisman Trophy winners: Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow. There will be a live video of the unveiling on the west side of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and remarks from Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow.

John Brantley helps prepare new-look Florida Gators for spring football game 04/08/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2011 10:39pm]

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