ESPN’s Jesse Palmer on the 2010 Florida Gators

By Adam Silverstein
August 25, 2010

During an ESPN conference call yesterday, former Florida Gators quarterback now network analyst Jesse Palmer spoke at length about the upcoming college football season. OGGOA had an opportunity to participate in the discussion and got Palmer to talk a bit about the 2010 version of the team. Read it all…after the break:

Palmer’s general assessment of the team going into the season:Urban Meyer loses 11 starters – one of those being a living legend in Tim Tebow. He loses four assistant coaches – of course the biggest loss being Charlie Strong as the defensive coordinator. And still, this team is expected to at least win the SEC East. Florida’s become accustomed to now – play for a National Championship. I think it’s a testament to the job Urban Meyer has done recruiting over the last several years now – the classes he has been able to bring in. There are a lot of names – Desmond [Howard] will tell you – there are a lot of players on this Florida team whose names we do not know yet that are going to be All-Americans and first-round draft picks in the National Football League. There is only obviously a handful of programs that I think can boast that.

“This is, in my opinion, a very difficult schedule for the Florida Gators this year. When you consider there’s games at Tennessee, at Alabama, they get LSU at home, they play Georgia in Jacksonville, have to travel to Florida Sate. When you lose players like Tim Tebow or Aaron Hernandez or Maukrice Pouncey or Riley Cooper or [Brandon] Spikes on defense or Carlos Dunlap, you lose that sort of leadership, I think it becomes very difficult. I address and I understand that there are probably more five-star recruits out of high school who will be starting for the first time this year at Florida than most schools can boast in the country, but the most these kids have ever played in front of before is maybe 5,000 people at the high school level. It is very different when you roll into Neyland Stadium and there are 115,000 or whatever that is. You play in these SEC stadiums and on the road and that’s a very different atmosphere. I’m curious to see just how fast this Florida team can grow up and find its leadership. Lots of people talk about John Brantley obviously not being the same type of fiery leader as Tim Tebow is – and that’s totally fine, but that leadership has to assert itself and has to address itself on both sides of the football, and it has to do so very early this season for the Florida Gators to be able to achieve all the goals they want for this year.”

Palmer’s thoughts about Brantley: “In regards to Jonathan Brantley, having watched him play now in practice three years, it’s been well documented in my opinion he’s a far superior passer of the football than Tim Tebow was. Certainly the Gator Nation right now is very spoiled, they just witnessed an unbelievable three-year run of one of the greatest college football players to ever play the game. I think the offense of Florida will take on a much more similar look as it did in 2006 when Chris Leak was playing quarterback. I think the biggest misconception people have about Jonathan Brantley is that he cannot run. He’s very athletic, he is able to make things happen with his feet, but he’s obviously the type of player who prefers to throw first and run second. It will be interesting. I think fans obviously expect a lot, they’re heard a lot about him.

“Urban Meyer’s gone on record as saying they’re trying to find out who the pieces are around John Brantley. The concern on offense for the Florida Gators is not Johnathan Brantley, it is who is going to be around him. Can Deonte Thompson step up at wide receiver? Can some of the other players like Chris Rainey and Andre Debose – will these guys be able to step up take the work load and be able to be big targets down the field now that the team has lost Riley Cooper and Aaron Hernandez? I certainly expect John Brantley to be very focused, he has got a great understanding of the offense. I expect them to still be explosive, but I think it will be a bit of a different look on offense this year for Florida.”

Palmer on how the defense will have to adjust after losing so many players Strong: “I don’t think anybody for a second denies the athleticism that Florida will have on defense this year. Without even knowing who some of these replacements are at the start of the season – you expect them to be a lot of speed, and this will be an aggressive unit. Guys like Jelani Jenkins, Justin Trattou, Ahmad Black and Will Hill – there are people on that side of the ball that will be expected to make a lot of plays. I think the question is: How fast will this unit gel? Particularly early in the season travelling at Tennessee, they’re going to play a very physical Alabama offense Oct. 2 on the road, they’ll face an LSU team on the road on Oct. 9 that has repositioned themselves to be a very strong running team.

“I think the physicality of this Florida team will be challenged. Again, losing so much leadership – not just as you mentioned the players on the field – but like you mentioned losing kind of the identity and face of that defense in defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. I’m very curious to see how this team is able to rebound from that. Without Tim Tebow, without Aaron Hernandez, without Riley Cooper and Maurkice Pouncey and all these weapons on offense, will the Gator offense be able to sustain drives and stay on the field like they did last season? In reality, this is a defense that probably has to be prepared to play a lot more snaps this year and stay on the field. I know, having talked to Charlie Strong in the past, one thing he always reiterated to his guys and to a lot of those young players who are expected to start this season – three and outs. The great defenses in college football can get the opposing offenses off the field in three downs or less. That is going to be a big challenge, I think, for the Florida defense this year now that they lost a lot of that leadership, now that the offense may sputter at time with a lot of new pieces. This defense certainly has a lot of challenges set out for it.”


  1. Daniel M. says:

    Jesse, LSU is a home game.

  2. Tampa Tom says:

    His Name is Johnny,you don’t even know this team anymore you talkin head GO AWAY

  3. Aligator says:

    he is a mcshay tard

  4. Mr2Bits says:

    I for one think assessment is spot on(minus a few errors). You have to remember, he gets payed to be unbiased and truthful. I’d love to sit here and say were going undefeated and won’t miss a beat but I remember how painful 2007 was when we lose tons of players especially most being top leaders. I think we lose 2 games this year but make it back to Atlanta.

  5. Gatorbuc15 says:

    I never really liked Jesse all that much even when he was at UF. He wasn’t a very good quarterback, and the thing that gets me is how ESPN acts like he was great! They also seem to think that he’s this great expert as well, and fact of the matter is that he’s not! He sucks at that to! Every time he talks about UF, he never seems to say anything good about it, and I think that it’s obvious that he’s grown distant from the program all together.

    So like “Tampa Tom” said, go away you talking head!

  6. freshone says:


  7. OldflyerG8r says:

    Phooey! I expect this team to be more explosive than last year. The Oline is veteran. Wide receivers who were missing, or dinged, last year are back. There is a great stable of running backs; and Johnny Brantley is going to light it up.

    I am not concerned about the defense. They will be there and be strong.

  8. Charles says:

    Oh boo hoo a former Gator is not an optimist about the current team. Burn him at the stake! Are you guys kidding? take off your orange and blue glasses. real gator fans can be skeptical about the team with reason, no one is backstabbing or being uniformed or, dare I say, stupid for doing so. Some of us remember the majority of years where Florida doesn’t win the NC or the SEC championship. That doesn’t mean the team or season was a complete loss. I enjoy every Gator Football season win or lose, I was born a Gator, I will always be a Gator through thick and thin. Jesse was a fine Quaterback, he didn’t suck. He was better than Noah Brindise.

  9. npgator says:

    Jesse actually was pretty good especially coming in from Canada. As far as his assesment – I just hope our opponents feel the same way. Apperently the coaches from around the nation feel that we are right in the mix without missing a step. Only a week away! Go Gators!

  10. SC Gator says:

    Based on what we see and know, and not what we hope, his assessment looks pretty spot on to me.

  11. Sorry to some of you, but I agree with the last few commenters. Palmer gave an honest assessment as he sees it – not one as a Gator homer. You have to respect that and, truth be told, I agree with much of what he said. While I think this team can surprise some people, I also think that you need to remember how much leadership the Gators have lost and how different the defense is going to look both coaching- and personnel-wise.

    That being said, Palmer got some pretty easy facts wrong and repeated himself a lot. I’ll let that slide though, considering he is probably studying dozens upon dozens of other teams and programs on a day-to-day basis. He’s not a Florida analyst, he’s a college football analyst.

  12. tommyvee says:

    Wow…Jesse was spot on in his assessment. I don’t feel he was critical at all with his comments.

    He did mention LSU at home earlier, but then made the mistake later on. That’s it.

    The team is young and talented and will need to establish leadership. What was wrong with that?

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