Coming into the 2010 season, many of the “experts” ranked Florida quarterback John Brantley as the third best quarterback in the SEC despite the fact that he had never started a game in his collegiate career. Ryan Mallett has once again had a fine season for Arkansas and we all know what Cam Newton is doing on the Plains. So at this point in the season, who is the third best quarterback in the SEC?
The answer is certainly not Brantley. Not a true fit for the Urban Meyer offense and without many of the key weapons Tim Tebow had to work with last year, Brantley has struggled to the tune of a passer rating of only 117. How bad is that? Only Jordan Jefferson and Larry Smith, two quarterbacks who are more dangerous running the ball than they are throwing, are worse in the SEC. Florida’s best offensive game this season came against Kentucky, when back up Trey Burton scored six touchdowns. Many have wondered if Brantley may lose his job to Burton if the Gators offense continues to struggle.
The real answer to the question is Georgia freshman Aaron Murray. For all of us who have followed the roller coaster 2010 season, we know the one bright spot has been the play of the kid from Tampa. His 157 rating is fourth in the SEC, while throwing for 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions (tied for least amongst starters in the SEC). His running ability has also provided the Georgia offense with a spark and he has contributed fours scores on the ground.
These two quarterbacks appear to be at very different junctions in their career. Brantley may be playing for his job on Saturday while Murray could be writing one of the first chapters in a historic Bulldog career. Considering how bad Florida wanted Murray out of high school, a victory on Saturday could be that much tougher for the Florida staff to swallow. Earlier this year, I quoted an interview Murray did with David Hale about his decision to choose Georgia over Florida. Here is again:
"It was huge just because the perception is that if you're in Florida, you're going to go to one of those three schools Miami, Florida or Florida State. It wasn't tough for me because I knew where I wanted to go, but for the people down there, everyone's a Florida fan, so they were all like, 'You need to go to Florida, blah, blah, blah, this and that.' In the end, I was going to go where I felt more comfortable. I fell in love with Georgia."
"So I went to Georgia, and the next week I went to Florida. I left there and I called my mom and I'm like, 'I'm ready to commit.' She was like, 'Oh, so you're ready to commit to Florida?' I was like, 'No, I'm ready to commit to Georgia.' Right then, when I left Florida with Georgia on my mind, I knew that it was the place for me. "