Lines lacking depth

Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney, right, observes nose tackle Omar Hunter, left, and defensive tackle Jay Howard, center, run defensive drills during the first day of spring practice at the UF practice field on Wednesday, March 17, 2010.

Aaron E. Daye/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 8:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 8:23 p.m.

Usually when it gets this late in the spring, the experienced veterans step aside and let the young guys take over. But that plan has not gone into effect at Florida.

The Gators are so thin at many positions (offensive and defensive line, especially) that many of the veterans who should be resting now are grinding out the final days of the spring leading up to Saturday’s Orange and Blue Game.

“Our offensive line is all banged up,” UF coach Urban Meyer said. “On the defensive line, we don’t have (tackles) Lawrence Marsh, Terron Sanders and Brandon Antwine in there. This will be the biggest offseason as far as development because we’ve got to get these freshmen ready to go.

“Last year we had 22 back on defense. This year, it doesn’t seem like any right now. I’d like to get the healthy guys out, guys who have played a lot of football — (defensive end) Justin Trattou, (cornerback) Janoris Jenkins, (safety) Ahmad Black, (center) Mike Pouncey.

“I’d like to get them out of the game, but you can’t because there just aren’t many guys behind them right now.”

It’s obvious that some of UF’s experienced linemen will have to play for both teams in Saturday’s game.

It’s also obvious that the Gators will be counting on incoming freshmen to provide a boost (and much-needed) depth on the defensive line.

The Gators have gone through the entire spring with only two of their top five defensive tackles available — Omar Hunter and Jaye Howard. The only other scholarship defensive tackles participating are Earl Okine and true freshman Leon Orr.

Even with Marsh, Sanders and Antwine expected to return in the fall, UF will need freshmen to contribute on the defensive line, Meyer said.

“All of (the incoming freshmen), all four guys (Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and Lynden Trail), will play, I hope,” Meyer said. “The guy who is further (from being ready) is my boy from south Florida, Lynden Trail because he’s got to gain a little weight. The other guys I would anticipate will play.”

Despite the many injuries, the Gators managed to put on another spirited and physical scrimmage Saturday morning on the practice field.

Once again, the defense prevailed, winning the scrimmage by a score of 41-35. But the offense managed to end the day on one of the most positive notes of the scrimmage — a 64-yard touchdown strike from true freshman quarterback Trey Burton to senior wide receiver Carl Moore.

Burton also hooked up with Moore earlier in the scrimmage for an 8-yard TD pass. The other offensive highlights included a 50-yard run by sophomore tailback Mike Gillislee and a 1-yard TD run by Gillislee on a fourth-and-goal play.

The defensive highlights included an interception by strong safety Ahmad Black, sacks by Okine and William Green, and a monster hit put on Gillislee by sophomore middle linebacker Jon Bostic that prevented Gillislee from making a first down on a fourth-and-one play.

Tailback Emmanuel Moody, who had perhaps his best week of practice since he’s been here, had to leave the field late in the scrimmage with a quadriceps injury. The injury did not appear serious.

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