Notebook: Harrison's prediction for UF O-line
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 8:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 8:25 p.m.
As the Florida football team turns its attention to Missouri, the offensive line is coming off its worst performance of the season.
In last Saturday's 17-9 loss to Georgia, the Gators rushed for a season-low 75 yards and quarterback Jeff Driskel was sacked five times.
UF offensive center Jonotthan Harrison believes the last game was just an aberration.
"You guys won't see that anymore out of the offensive line," he said.
The biggest issue Florida's linemen had against the Bulldogs was pass blocking, as Driskel faced constant pressure when he dropped to throw.
"There were times when there was a miscommunication," Harrison said when asked about the pass protection problems. "It could have been between center and guard, or guard-tackle, tackle-tight end. Whatever the position may be, there was just a communication error, and when that error occurs, then the play will not function as smooth as it's supposed to.”
Harrison said he and the rest of the offensive line held a players-only meeting Sunday and talked about how the unit can improve.
“Last game wasn't our best performance, but we've shown what we're capable of and it's well known the potential that our offensive line has," Harrison said. "I just know we're going to bounce back this Saturday and make sure everyone is fundamentally sound on the offensive line.”
Florida's lack of pass protection led to three fumbles from Driskel, two of which were recovered by Georgia. The Gators put the ball on the ground a total of six times (four lost), and they will be at risk to do the same against Missouri.
The Tigers lead the nation in forced fumbles (17) and are second in fumbles recovered (14). In their 33-10 win over Kentucky last Saturday, they forced six and fell on three. On one of the turnovers, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson scooped up his own strip and ran it back 60 yards.
UF offensive coordinator Brent Pease said his players must be aware of Missouri's ability to knock the ball loose.
“You look at a few plays on film and Richardson strips one, picks it up and runs it back against Kentucky all the way to the 20-yard line,” Pease said. “So it's something our guys better know and they better have some ball security, because these guys are going after it.”
As bad as Saturday's struggles were for his offense, Pease believes his players have learned from the loss and it will help them prepare for the Tigers.
“We gotta do a much better job with turnovers because that's a thing that ultimately hurt us the other day,” Pease said. “If you don't put that in the back of your mind and understand you gotta get better from it and tighten it down in practice, the same thing can happen. But we'll go back and recreate drills that we gotta put some emphasis in this week.”
UF coach Will Muschamp also said the Gators have to improve their ball security, but he isn't overly concerned with the fumbles they had against Georgia.
“We had four turnovers coming into that game,” Muschamp said, “so we just need to do a better job of being more cognizant of ball security in those situations. We've done a good job of that for the previous seven games. It's not been a recurring issue throughout the year.”
Other than the games against Texas A&M and South Carolina, Florida's offense has gotten off to slow starts this season.
The Gators have scored on their opening drive just twice, and one of those started at the opponent's 2-yard line.
On Tuesday, Pease put much of that blame on himself and his play calls.
“We gotta start a lot faster,” he said. “Some of it (is) I gotta develop a better rhythm for them and get the kids where we got the ball moving a lot better. I gotta do a better job.”
From a player's perspective, Harrison said the offense often has assignment issues in the first quarter and must eliminate them earlier.
“If one person misses that block or one person steps to far to the left, it can mess up an entire play,” Harrison said. “So if we can get everybody on the same page, we will (start faster).”