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April 14, 2011

Gators' offense is still offensive

Here is this week's "Three And Out," a weekly feature that will provide a quick but opinionated take from Tom Dienhart on three hot topics.

1. Mighty offensive. Is it officially OK for Florida fans to panic? A Gators offense that struggled mightily last season, when it ranked 10th in the SEC, again fired blanks in the spring game. Senior John Brantley provided more ammo for those who argue he isn't a big-time quarterback, going 4-of-14 for 45 yards in the spring game. This is coming off a 2010 season in which he passed for 2,061 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. That's disconcerting because many felt Brantley was a better fit for new coordinator Charlie Weis' pro-style attack than the spread offense run by Urban Meyer and coordinator Steve Addazio. Want more? Questions also persist at running back, receiver and on the line. Regardless, Brantley exited spring practice as the No. 1 quarterback, and there's little reason to think the Gator offense will be much better in Year One under Will Muschamp. A shred of good news: Florida plays in the weak SEC East, so it still could contend. If the Gators played in the SEC West, they would be lucky to finish fifth.

2. Your move, Big East. The Big East released a statement that Villanova has delayed taking a vote on whether to join the Big East as a football-playing member. The stadium appears to be the key stumbling block. The school, a Big East hoops member, currently plays in 12,500-seat Villanova Stadium. No Big Six school plays in a venue with fewer than 30,000 seats, with Wake Forest's BB&T Field being the smallest at 31,500. Villanova could play in 68,532-seat Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, but the stadium would be sparsely filled. Truth be told, the Big East would be better off just re-inviting Temple after booting the Owls after the 2004 season because of poor attendance. Since then, Temple's program -- a MAC member in football -- has vastly improved and would be competitive in the Big East. And Temple already plays at Lincoln Financial Field. If not Temple, the Big East should move on to UCF or Memphis. Each would push the Big East into new, big markets.

3. Keeping his job. The biggest revelation from spring practices thus far has been the emergence of Jordan Jefferson as the clear No. 1 quarterback at LSU. Many felt junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger would unseat Jefferson, but Jefferson displayed consistency throughout spring practices and is the clear No. 1 over Jarrett Lee and Mettenberger. The light bulb seemed to come on for Jefferson in the Cotton Bowl, when he threw for three touchdowns in a 41-24 victory over Texas A&M. Jefferson, a senior who has made 26 career starts and passed for 3,838 yards with 25 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, will have numerous weapons this fall. If he continues to blossom, LSU very well could advance to its third BCS title game since the 2003 season.

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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