Game already slowing down for UF center Buchanan

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Florida center Nick Buchanan at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Cyndi Chambers/Gainesville Sun Correspondent]

Nick Buchanan’s 2018 season was supposed to be a trial by fire in a sense.

Buchanan, a 6-foot-3 redshirt junior offensive lineman out of Dunwoody, Georgia, emerged as Florida’s starting center in the offseason, with much of the credit due to his intelligence on and off of the football field. Buchanan’s future looked promising, but as any SEC offensive lineman will tell you, those first collegiate experiences can be a learning process, to say the least.

Yet Buchanan, who has started all six games at center this season after seeing action in just three games since his arrival in 2015, has progressed each week under new offensive line coach John Hevesy with little to no setbacks, and it’s showing on Saturdays.

Following Tuesday’s practice, Buchanan concurred with the outside perspective that he has improved week in and week out, saying the game has become slower, thus allowing him to sniff out reads more quickly.

“I’m starting to see looks easier and faster. Everything’s coming together. I start remembering looks, things aren’t new every time from now on. I start putting things in the bank and building on other things,” Buchanan said. “I would say I’ve got more comfortable, but you can’t get too comfortable when you’re in this league. Because as soon as you get comfortable, somebody hits you right in the face.”

Florida was the one doing the face-smacking in Saturday’s 27-19 victory over LSU, a contest that featured arguably the toughest front seven the Gators offensive line has faced to date.

“They definitely came out, they were ready, but we were ready, too,” Buchanan said. “ It was a battle, it was a war, it was a fight.”

Rather than partake in an extended celebration, the Gators quickly cut the festivities short and returned to business as usual Monday.

“Really, I’ve just seen us coming out with a mindset every day in practice to really get better at our technique and fundamentals,” Buchanan said. “To really take the small steps and do the little things right, and then that shows up on Saturday.”

And the team has been made more than aware of just what those little things are, as Buchanan’s position coach hasn’t shied away when pressed how the offensive line needs to improve, especially when it comes to UF’s run-blocking.

We got to be able to move people off the ball and knock people back more than we did,” Hevesy said. “LSU is good up front, big up front, but to me our pads have to be low and we have to be able to knock people off the ball to run inside zone better than we do.”

Although the Commodores, who sit at 3-3 coming into the weekend, aren’t close to LSU’s stature from a defensive perspective, Buchanan and the Gators aren’t letting their guard down. In the eyes of Florida’s starting center, with attention to detail comes victory.

“You talk about the trap game, but if you don’t take care of the little things, take care of your fundamentals, then really everything is a trap game, no matter who you’re playing,” Buchanan said. “It’s not about Vandy, it’s not about what they do, it’s about us. If we can go out there and execute, then we’ll win.”

 

19 COMMENTS

  1. Just another case of this coaching staff recognizing a skill set of a player and taking advantage of that skill set in their system. They moved Buchanan from guard, where he rarely or ever played under the previous staff, to center because they recognized what he could possibly do there. And then they coached him up to the point where he is becoming a very good SEC center. Oh what a relief it is!!! And because these OL are now in shape and strong, the are starting to dominate and avoid injuries every single week. Keep both up, OL. Go dominate Vandy on both lines of scrimmage, unlike the last two years when Vandy dominated both lines of scrimmage. And I am looking forward to which player starts at RG vs. Vandy. Johnson or Heggie? Heggie sure played well there vs. LSU.

    • Successful line play on both sides are what drives championship football teams, especially in the SEC. And lines, especially the OL, are not built overnight. It’s nice to see the Gator OL showing improvement, week in and week out. It’s been a LONG time coming.

      It’s even nicer to see a head coach who calls it as he (and everyone else) sees it and doesn’t sugarcoat where the line is in its development. The OL did a good job against LSU and at the end of the game when they really needed the OL to step up… they did. They still have a ways to go (still too many false start penalties and missed assignments that get your QB killed) but they are finally making progress.

      And Buchanan has really started to step up and be a leader on this line. Great job Buch!!!

    • Exactly. This staff recognized early that Buchannan is a much better fit for this system than McCoy who was the better fit for McElwain’s system… instead of square peg into a round hole.

  2. These guys are starting to sound more and more like what you hear out of Bama. Like focusing on doing your job and not worrying so much about the opponent. Doing your job the best you can, EVERY play with relentless effort and the results will take care of themselves.

    And the beautiful thing about what is happening in this program is, as they develop, physically, mentally, and in football intelligence, they can start working on the “little things”, the details that are needed to take the next step. Experience and paying attention to the little things do make the game slow down and build confidence and produce better results. The little things are the difference between 8 wins and 12 wins. Go Gators!

    • That sums it up very nicely, Rog. Leaders emerge, and so do skills. We are half way thru the season (can you believe it?) and just look at the players who are not the same from just 6 weeks ago. It has been a real treat this year to watch these guys, and this team. develop.

        • Wow! Now that’s something that I haven’t heard much in years past! “FUN” Seems the fans aren’t the only ones having fun. Good to see the players actually having fun again!!!!

    • What’s nice is that they seem to actually pay attention and work on the “little things”. McElfraud always talked about working on the little details but it never ever showed in their play or development. It’s not just lip service anymore and the results PROVE it. Go Gators!

  3. I’m a fan of three star players with upside which is this type of player but there are risks with that approach. Somehow Stevens the tight end did not lift the amount of weights or learn the toughness the game requires. Nick Buchanan definitely had to work around a talented but injured McCoy and it’s generally a tougher path for the 3:star and worse for some positions and some players. Still this guy has done the work and is developing into a good player so it’s working out but I concede the high rated player is important to bring on to sustain excellence in the program.

  4. Clearly its all coaching as the same guys were horrible before. We havent had a good O-line in years. It is fun to watch a great coach in progress. Week in and week out, to watch as he molds and forms these same players we had before, into great specimens.
    Im glad to hear they arent wasting this week, to get better for the Ga game. The coaches prepare for the next team while the players just hone their craft. To have slacked off this week probably wouldnt have mattered against Vandy but would have lost the opportunity of 1 more week to prepare to be their best against ga. At this stage of the season, every week is critical to improve for later matches. Once lost they cant be made up. That would have been my motivation to the team for practice this week. Lets face it, its hard to get up for a team as bad as Vandy, so I would have stressed the importance of not wasting a critical week of improvement that we will need for Ga!

  5. “…its hard to get up for a team as bad as Vandy…”

    Would that be the same Vandy that #5 Notre Dame struggled to put away under the watchful gaze of Touchdown Jesus?

    It seems you don’t put much stock in what CDM is preaching.

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