Renewed confidence for Florida's Brantley

HOOVER, Ala. -- Florida's Deonte Thompson looked back at his quarterback, John Brantley, more than once this spring following a Brantley rifle shot down the field and nodded his head approvingly.

"There were a couple of scrimmages where he ripped the whole defense apart," Thompson said. "He got his confidence back. It was the old Brantley out there."

Or maybe the new Brantley.

Brantley gets a fresh start this season with a new offense, new offensive coordinator and new head coach.

The best part for Brantley is that the offense -- Charlie Weis' pro-style attack -- fits what he does best and has also helped to unify the team after a turbulent season a year ago in Gainesville with different players and different factions pulling in opposite directions.

"With a new coaching staff and a new offense, it's like you're starting all over again, a clean slate," said Brantley, who finished last season with nine touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. "Everyone has bought in, and everyone is closer together.

"I think every single one of us has forgot about last year. We're just looking forward to this year and moving on."

Thompson, who had his own struggles catching the ball last season, said Brantley's renewed confidence this spring and summer has rubbed off on the entire team.

That and the reality that the Gators lost five football games a year ago after losing only twice in the previous two seasons combined.

"The leaders have stepped up," Thompson said. "We're not used to losing, man. We've got to change something."

Brantley said one of the biggest changes fans will notice in the Gators' new offense is that they're not going to be in the shotgun nearly as much.

"It's going to be more ground and pound, but coach Weis isn't scared to take shots down the field," Brantley said. "That's his style of offense. I think the change is good, and I think our fans are going to love it."

Brantley said he's looked at a lot of tape from the Kansas City Chiefs last season when Weis was the offensive coordinator. He's also watched a lot of tape from Weis' Notre Dame days when Jimmy Clausen and Brady Quinn were running the Irish offense.

Thompson said Brantley absorbed too much of the blame last season for a Florida offense that went belly-up and finished 10th in the SEC in total offense.

"Last year, I wouldn't say it was all on Brantley," Thompson said. "There were times we should have gotten open quicker. It's more than just him. I know he's the quarterback and all the pressure's on him, but it's more than just him.

"It's on all of us, and we're in this together."