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Friday, December 17, 2010
Stepping up in the bowls: Florida

By Chris Low

It's Urban Meyer's final game as the Florida head coach and the Gators' last chance to generate some positive vibes about an otherwise disappointing season.

A loss to Penn State in the Outback Bowl would give the Gators (7-5) six losses. The last time they suffered that many losses in a season was 1987.

Who's going to step up for the Gators?

Junior quarterback John Brantley: At this point, he's not completely sure that he will be back next season. Brantley still wants to talk it over with new coach Will Muschamp before making up his mind. Maybe this will be an audition of sorts for both player and coach, even though the Gators will still be running Meyer's offense. It's obvious by now that Brantley was never a fit in the spread offense, and this staff didn't do enough to mold the offense around what Brantley does best -- which is drop back and throw the football. We'll see if that changes for this game. Muschamp has already said that he plans on running more of a pro-style offense.

If Brantley does end up returning to Florida for his senior season, there would be no better way to go into an offseason with a new staff than to play his best football in the bowl game. A lot of the Florida fans have been calling for Jordan Reed at quarterback, but the Gators are going to need Brantley to hit some plays in the passing game to soften up that Penn State defense. It's been a forgettable season for Brantley, who was being hailed as one of the best quarterbacks in the league back in August even though he'd never played any meaningful snaps in the SEC. Here's his chance to finally live up to that billing and help his team enter the Muschamp era with some momentum.