Commentary

Spring film review: Gators impress

A film review of spring games reveals positive signs for UF and four other programs

Updated: May 3, 2011, 10:04 AM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
John BrantleyKim Klement/US PresswireSigns are pointing toward an improved Gators passing game (led by QB John Brantley) in 2011.

Different coaches look for different things and have different goals in mind during spring practice, but if there's one thing that they are all hoping to do, it is identify the best playmakers and difference-makers on the team.

Playmakers can create a stir during standard practices, but the best place to make an impression is during the spring game. Nothing this time of year showcases your ability to have an impact on a contest like doing so on the biggest available stage.

After reviewing the footage of multiple spring games, five players/position groups stood out as the best playmaker candidates. While the sample size of a spring game is clearly a very small one, all five of the teams listed below have reason to feel very positive about these players and positions heading into the summer.

Florida Gators -- John Brantley

It might seem a bit odd to be touting Brantley after a 4-for-14, 45-yard performance in the Orange and Blue game, but consider this: In a three-game sample review of Brantley's 2010 season, he threw a stretch vertical pass (defined as thrown 20 or more yards downfield) only 5 percent of the time. This is a very low number and indicates the Gators were not very effective at even threatening the long pass.

In the spring game, four of Brantley's aerials fell under the "stretch vertical" designation and one would have been completed for 40 yards had it not been for a very good defensive play. Brantley also did not force any of these downfield passes into coverage, so the downside on these throws was limited. It bodes well for what the Florida vertical game will be able to do in 2011 -- not just for Brantley and Charlie Weis' new downfield passing game, but for the playmakers in the Gators' running game as well.