At times in the first three games of the season it appeared the Florida Gators might have a problem…
Urgency Helped Brantley and Offense
"It was a lot of fun, we wanted to get off to a fast start and were really happy it happened," Brantley told the Florida media following the game Saturday. We were well balanced today and the line did a great job of run blocking and pass protection. Those receivers were catching the ball well and running backs running hard. We were happy to be balanced."
The Gators have started the second half of almost every game strong, seemingly making good halftime adjustments to score quickly and open up a lead in the second half. Saturday was a lot of the same after a lull in the second quarter.
"We started out strong in the first half," Brantley said. "The second quarter was shaky. We knew we had to come out (in the second half) and come out firing. I was just happy to see all those guys fighting even though it was the second half and everyone was tired."
One thing that was stressed during the week was getting lined up and calling a play quicker. In the first three games, there has been a little bit of not everyone on the same page because the play has been rushed. On Saturday, the deliberate style meant the gators could get set, allow the offensive linemen to identify their blocking assignments, and then fore off the ball when it is finally snapped.
"It leaves you more time to I.D. guys and look at the coverage and not feel so rushed," Brantley said. "We stressed that a lot this week. Our practice and preparation paid off.
Brantley believes the offense has taken small steps every week in practice, and finally took a bigger one in the week leading up to the Kentucky game.
"I saw it for three weeks prior to this," he said. "Each week during preparation it's getting better and better. We had a great week of preparation. The coaches challenged a lot of us and we stepped up."
Brantley has found some guys he can depend on but maybe none more now that senior Carl Moore. Moore caught four pases for 72 yards in the game and his last six catches have all been converted third down plays. Brantley also credits the offensive line for helping him get it to Moore when he can.
"Carl Moore did a great job," Brantley said. "He has come on well this season and I'm happy to see that he's doing such a great job. It's also easy to put the ball in a guys hand when the line is blocking so well."
Brantley has watched the emergence of a true freshman that is his immediate back up in case of emergency. Trey Burton will be the guy if something happens to Brantley. Burton had been getting his feet wet through the first three games, but turned in a performance for the record books on Saturday.
Burton set a single game Gator record with six touchdowns scored in the game against Kentucky. He caught one touchdown pass from Brantley and ran for five more. Brantley was really excited for Burton and tipped his hat to the freshman for being such a team player since his arrival on campus in January.
"It was awesome and he deserves it," Brantley said of Burton's big night. "He works so hard and will do anything for this team. He came in as a quarterback and we asked him to do a lot of things and he was open minded. He just wants to make this team better and he deserves what happened tonight...that is for sure."
Brantley's offensive line has also stepped up. They were clicking better than they have all season on Saturday, even when at different times during the game, each of the five starters sustained an injury that limited each of them. Brantley said he was never worried about his warriors in the trenches.
"Not at all, those offensive linemen know how to battle," Brantley said. "I trust those guys completely. To see what they did, even when banged up, is awesome. I love those guys to death and to see them keep fighting shows they really care and want to win for this football team."
With Moore, Burton, the offensive line, and so many other options in the offense. Brantley has tried to become more of a leader for the unit. His voice hoarse from yelling on the field, Brantley talked about that role in this offense.
"I'm definitely becoming more comfortable doing that," he said of being a leader. "I have a great relationship with all of the guys. I am starting to come out of my shell. I am just trying to be out there and give encouragement whenever it is needed."
No encouragement will be needed this week. The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide in a battle of top 10 teams and a rematch from last season's SEC Championship Game.
"We'll enjoy this win for a short period of time, but we'll have to start looking toward next weekend," he said. "We are looking forward to the challenge. Our guys are starting to learn how to prepare for games and I think that's what we're going to do this week."
The preparation led to a solid win that should put a little pep in their step heading into the battle with Alabama. There was a lot of positives to take out of the Kentucky game and prepare for next week.
"It gives us a lot of confidence and this is a real momentum booster," Brantley said. "We just have to build off of that and prepare really hard this week.
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