Florida Football: What Will The Gator System Change Mean For Its Heisman Future?

It means you shouldn’t count on any Tebow-like performances out of the Florida quarterback position any time soon.

Certainly not from John Brantley and probably not from super frosh Jeff Driskel, either, even though he is uniquely suited to be the next Tebow.

Sorry Gator fans.

The media is trying to sell it, but I don’t buy it. If the Gator coaching staff’s goal was to find a system perfectly suited for Brantley (or Bernie Kosar, for that matter), then they’ve succeeded.  Bully for them, but that’s not the path to Heisman (and therefore team) glory in the year 2011:

Muschamp, who was Texas’ defensive coordinator and coach in waiting before leaving for Florida, said he isn’t looking for Brantley to perform like Brady or Tebow.

“I just know from the quarterback position, it’s managing the game,” Muschamp said. “Peyton Manning manages the game. Tom Brady manages the game. They don’t turn the ball over. They take care of the ball. They provide great leadership for their offense and their football team. They convert on third down. They check and get in the right run. They check and get in the right protection. They see the pressure coming and they slide the offensive line. That’s managing the game and that’s what we want to see, and he’s got the ability to do all of those things.”

Pretty inspiring stuff about managing the game and checking down, huh?  Tell you what, the only thing Tim Tebow ‘managed’ was his post-victory celebratory trot around the field after four quarters of pummeling defenders.  The toughest decision one-time Gator Cam Newton ever had to make in a game was whether to go over, around or through a defender (yes, I am passing up the easy payola joke).

Read more over at College Football Pundit*:

You see, the Weis system requires that the quarterback be a statue.  A mobile quarterback might actually gain yards via a designed run or through the improvisation of his feet instead of, say, checking down as taught and making a play with his arm (thus rendering pointless Weis’s tutelage).  And if the best athlete on the field is playing quarterback and making it look easy, where will that leave the galoots who paid all that money to attend Steve Clarkson’s camps? Where will that leave the coaches whose jobs depend on teaching these outmoded systems?

Well, the one galoot quarterback on the UF roster–John Brantley–also stands the best chance to be next year’s starter as it turns out, though certainly not because of anything special he did last season.

Meanwhile, the team’s most athletic quarterback–Jordan Reed–has been exiled to tight end where he can have as little impact on the game as possible.  On another planet, in another life, or on another team, he might’ve been the next Newton.  Too bad.

Can a Gator quarterback challenge for the Heisman in the Weis system?  Sure, eventually.  Brady Quinn made it to New York in 2006.  But Quinn played for Notre Dame and, besides, college football offenses have changed quite a bit since then–as has the perception of what constitutes a good offense and a good player.

It’s going to take some time and a few recruiting cycles before Florida’s offense rebounds.

I doubt Weis–or his system–will be around to see it.

* — By the way, CFB Pundit just happens to be my new blog collaboration (hard launch coming soon), so be sure to bookmark.

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About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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22 Responses to Florida Football: What Will The Gator System Change Mean For Its Heisman Future?

  1. gatorboi352 March 16, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    Strangely written article by an obviously amateur blogger.

    For example:

    “Muschamp….said he isn’t looking for Brantley to perform like Brady or Tebow.” “Said Muschamp: I just know from the quarterback position, it’s managing the game; Tom Brady manages the game.”

    Wait what? So he DOES or DOESN’T look for Brantley to perform in the likeliness of a Tom Brady? Stop pulling non stories out of thin air for the sake of web site hits.

    • Heisman Pundit March 16, 2011 at 11:20 am #

      That quote you disparage was taken by ESPN’s Mark Schlabach. Take it up with him.

      • fdlguy March 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

        the second part of the quote was, however, the first part was all you. Seriously, do your homework before you waste everyone’s time.

        • Heisman Pundit March 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

          The entire ‘contradictory’ quote was from Muschamp.

          What homework didn’t I do? I think the Gators are dumb to switch to a pro style offense. If you disagree, tell me why.

  2. KevCov March 16, 2011 at 7:19 am #

    Very amateurish blog, for sure. Sounds like something you’d read at The Bleacher Report, the “National Inquirer” of sports reporting.
    Kudos to the author for at least taking the time to write and appear to be more college-football-intelligent than he actually is. However, Mr Pundit needs to grow up a little bit and find a way to have a better overall understanding of things before writing just for the sake of writing.
    Good luck with that.

    • Heisman Pundit March 16, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      So, does ‘growing up’ mean that I’ll suddenly have an acceptance of a dumb system move by a college coach?

  3. James Stephenson March 16, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    You know, if they took how much Cam Newton actually knew about calling plays into account, he would have not even been invited to the Heisman ceremony. I mean, a freaking moron could look over to the sidelines at these so called “Advanced Offense” football schools, look at the pretty pictures and then do what he has drilled into him, not even taking a look at the defense to understand what is going on. And yes it works when you have a mack truck lined up at QB, but really the team is run by an idiot. And when the Defenses figure out how to change the call before the ball is hiked, what will the robot do then?

    Well in the case of Newton, he just ran over and by people, but those guys are not made every day and can get injured than the team is sunk. Besides, who was the last spread option QB to be successful in the NFL?

    Sorry, it just irks me to see teams chicken out of letting the players play to call the play for dummy QB they have.

  4. Ed Newman March 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    If I was a Florida fan all I would care about is winning the SEC and National Championships. I don’t know if Muschamp is the guy to do it, but the administration (and Texas’ administration) thinks so. If Muschamp doesn’t think the spread is the way to go than they are doing the EXACT right thing here. Heisman’s are nice but they shouldn’t be the goal of the coaching staff. I’ll say this: if we can call UF’s offense last year a version of the spread and they think Brantley is the right guy, then switching offenses is a no-brainer. Brantley looked awful in that offense last year.

    I don’t think it will take that long to convert the offense either. ND had reasonably good offenses under Weis. It was their defenses that sucked.

    • Heisman Pundit March 16, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

      Ed,

      First, Heismans tend to come with elite programs and vice versa. The ability to contend for a Heisman is an indicator of your program’s strength.

      Second, no one is saying Brantley was the right guy for the spread. But UF has two excellent spread quarterbacks on roster and a third coming in the fall. UF is changing its system to get one year out of Brantley while letting the other quarterbacks who are better suited to the spread either switch positions or fester in the new offense.

      Lastly, ND had a pro/I-formation system already in place when Weiss took over, not to mention Quinn was in his third year as a starter. So, the transition was pretty easy and it at least made sense with the personnel in place. That is not the issue at Florida.

      • Ed Newman March 17, 2011 at 6:02 am #

        Heismans are ONE indicator of a programs strength, but as Alabama went something like 100 years before winning their first Heisman I don’t think you have to associate elite programs with Heismans. Plus there have been plenty other elite programs that didn’t win a ton of heismans while they were dominating (Michigan comes to mind). Nor do you have to have Heismans coming from the QB spot. Some actually come from RB’s too. And there is no proof that the spread helps an RB win the Heisman.

        And I suspect that it’s not a one-or-the-other choice at Florida. Muschamp and Weis are predisposed to a pro style and Brantley sucked as a spread QB. It was a double whammy. Hence a no brainer.

        We’ll see about how long it takes to go from a spread to a pro-style when you have Florida’s kind of talent and speed. It’s not like they have a bunch of sprites on the roster. I suspect it will not take as long as you think. We have seen at Michigan that it takes time to go from a traditional offense to a spread but have we seen a program go from the spread back to a traditional offense? And in Florida’s case, unlike in Michigan and Nebraska under Callahan, I haven’t heard the boosters bemoan that its not “Florida football” so maybe they won’t put up the resistance we saw in those schools.

  5. Reptillicide March 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    Well done, Heisman Pundit. You’ve got them up in arms now. Prepare for the saurian onslaught.

  6. Steve Clarkson March 16, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    Perhaps Florida wants to produce NFL ready quarterbacks and not system qbs? They are already known for their tremendous athletes so plugging them into a more NFL realistic offense will only help their players in the long run. Also the notion that a pro style QB can’t win the Heisman is a ridiculous one! Matt Leinart ring a bell? And I promise you Andrew Luck will be a finalist this year again. Lastly I train quarterbacks to be NFL ready so the quote on me is pretty far off the mark.

    • Heismanpundit March 16, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Steve.

      If Florida wants to produce NFL quarterbacks at the expense of its offense and the talent it has on hand, then I believe that’s a warped priority on its part. The primary goal should be to win football games, not prepare players for the draft.

      As for the ‘system’ quarterback tag, last I checked Tim Tebow was a first-round pick and Cam Newton was on his way to becoming one as well. Neither took snaps under center while in college and both dominated in part because their system allowed them to play 11 on 10 instead of 10 against 11. Both won national titles and Heismans.

      You have to admit: Your coaching style fits a ‘system’ in its own right. And it attracts relatively unathletic pocket passers who are out of step with most of the current offenses in college football. They may end up understanding the pro game better due to your tutelage, but in the meantime they have to play college ball, right?

      I’m not sure why you think my quote is off the mark. My main point is that if pro-style systems didn’t exist in college, you’d be out of a job. The spread is anathema to your style–and to your client base of wealthy suburban kids–so naturally it is in your interest to further the notion that quarterbacks should be statue-like pocket passers.

      As for Matt Leinart, he was a great player in college and I love the guy (I ran his Heisman campaign), but college offenses have changed since 2005. It’s been seven years since a pro-style quarterback has won the Heisman and there’s a reason for it. The game has changed.

      That change centers largely around the belief that the quarterback should be the best (or close to the best) athlete on the field whenever possible/feasible. I do not believe that a sub-par athlete quarterbacking in a system that plays the game in a phone booth is the best way to go and should certainly not be the preference over the former option.

      The college offenses of the past six or seven years bear that belief out. You certainly don’t see too many pro-style teams winning national titles these days.

  7. Steve Clarkson March 17, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Point taken and I understand your argument completely but here is my issue, being a black QB often comes with the stigma of being an “athlete who can play QB” and that is something I’ve strived to see broken. I think the spread and it’s variations are great for the college game and are exciting and fun to watch but what you will start to see in the future is a move back to the more under the center offenses. Texas is adapting it into their offense and Norm is bringing it to Utah. The reason the spread works so well is it hides qbs weaknesses. If you don’t have a good understanding of defensive blitz packages and schemes then the spread is perfect for your QB. Ask June Jones how he basically sets up 3 reads in a triangle to his qbs strong side. It takes the thinking out of the game and relieves the pressure. I will agree with you that Cam is a great poster boy for the spread but the jury will be out on him and Tim until they do it in the NFL. The Heisman will be one by the best player in college regardless of the offense he runs. I also get a chuckle from your “QB should be the best athlete on the field” comment. If that were true Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady would be out of a job. They all seem to be doing well considering you need a sun dial to clock their 40’s.

    • Heisman Pundit March 17, 2011 at 9:48 am #

      I think a greater stigma than the one you mention is the notion that great black athletes shouldn’t play quarterback. For years, they were put at defensive end, or receiver, or running back–anywhere but the one position on the field where they touch the ball on every down.

      If the greatest black athletes of the last 25 years had been taught how to play quarterback instead of being shunted into these other positions then, yes, guys like Montana, Marino and Brady might’ve been out of jobs.

      Ten years earlier, Vince Young would’ve been a tight end or defensive end while some other stiff played quarterback…and Texas would still be looking for that first national title since 1970. Cam Newton would never have been at quarterback 15 years ago and Auburn would still be looking for its first title.

      I would argue that the greater reason the spread works so well is that it properly exploits a quarterback’s strengths (rather than hides his weaknesses). Jake Locker is a fantastic runner, but in the pro system that attribute is totally wasted. In a spread, he would’ve been a far more dynamic and productive player and Washington would’ve won more games.

      There is nothing wrong with a simplified system that works and produces points. That’s the goal of an offense. Even among under-center offenses, Norm’s is quite simple compared to others. The problem with pro style systems is that they tend to be more complicated and they take longer for quarterbacks to master. Quarterbacks in college have four years to get things right and 20 hours a week with their coach. So no wonder your services are needed!

      But there is more than one way to be a great quarterback and I think it’s wrong for anyone to say different. Those who favor pro style systems tend to look down on the notion of a quarterback who gains yards on the ground. To me, yards are yards. Jamelle Holloway was a helluva college quarterback and he won games. The fact that he wasn’t an NFL quarterback makes little difference to the Oklahoma fans who enjoyed that championship season in 1985 and who still get to savor that trophy.

  8. abennett March 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    Did Alabama have a great QB in 09? NO! They had a good game manager! (Payton Manning) Did they run the spread? No! They run a hybrid of the 2 called the “one back” with some “i-form” and “pistol” I am a fan of the “spread” and i agree that it shows a qbs strengths, but also hides weaknesses like Tebow, n Newtons elongated throwing motion. No one cared how bad it was because they could do other things so well.

    Another point lack of a good running back in the spread its very rare Oregon James is the best i have seen! Just because Florida has three qbs Heismans doesn’t mean they cant win one with a back! i would like to see a 1000 rusher for the first time since 04! I think they should’ve went with the “Pistol” it provides the best of both worlds

  9. abennett March 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    National championships and conference championships are the true indicator of a programs strength not Heismans! Heismans are an individual trophy NOT for the team (EX. Tim Tebow And Steave Spurrier) when they won it wasn’t on championship teams! I no Tebow has 2 rings but not from the year he won the Heisman!

  10. Travis March 19, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    HP, you say that UF won’t have success in 2011 due to the change in offense. But when was the last time a new head coach at a major program, not hired from within the program (Larry Coaker at Miami), had great success that first year?
    Just for the sake of the question/argument, let’s define success as a Top 10 finish.
    The last I can remember was when Weis was hired at ND and took a loaded team to a BCS bowl game.

    • Heismanpundit March 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

      Travis, my contention has nothing to do with just 2011, but going forward past that. I think going to a pro style offense will hurt Florida’s offense and, hence, its shot at producing Heisman contenders.

  11. abennett April 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    This blog sucks i wrote on here three weeks ago and theres only been two posts since!

  12. RH April 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    I’m late to the game here HP. I’ve been reading your blog since late 07 and you occasionally have something insightful to say, but here you seem to have completely lost your marbles.

    Do you honestly think that merely switching to a pro-style offense is going to hurt UF’s program in the long run? Don’t confuse the Gators’ situation with the Cornhuskers’ fiasco when they hired Bill Callahan.

    Unlike Nebraska, Florida can and probably will get whatever top talents they need to run whatever system they desire just because they’re Florida. As long as the coaching is top notch, (and pending results, the coaching staff is elite), UF will hang around as a very strong program. The last time the program was in a lull, it wasn’t because they changed offensive or defensive systems- it was because the coaching inherently sucked.

    Then again, when Meyer went to Florida you were probably one of the guys who doubted his ability to succeed in the SEC with his then-newfangled system.

  13. Heisman Pundit April 15, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    RH, I am skeptical of the ability of pro style offenses to be successful in college. That’s why you don’t see many of them anymore. Furthermore, I am knocking the Gators for putting their best quarterback at tight end. The result will be a real decline in their offense, in my opinion.

    Lastly, you are wrong about that last contention. I was the FIRST one to contend that Urban Meyer would dominate the SEC solely because of his newfangled system and that the SEC would change as a result. Go check the archives. I took a lot of grief for it, but I was right.