Gators have the look on o-line again

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In the opening days of preseason training camp, I did a story on Florida’s veteran offensive line. The theme was that the only real concern was to make it to the start of the season with everyone healthy.

As we all know, that didn’t happen.

The two top left tackles — Matt Patchan and Xavier Nixon — were injured early in camp and forced Steve Addazio to shuffle his guys around to put the best five on the field. Then, starting guard Carl Johnson was suspended from the opener, leading to more realigning.

As a result, in the first game, center Mike Pouncey was the only guy in his regular position. Marcus Gilbert moved from right tackle to left, Maurice Hurt moved from right guard to right tackle, James Wilson moved from right guard to left guard, and Jon Halapio made his first college start at right guard.

Not surprisingly, the offense had some major problems in the opener.

Last week, things improved with the return of Johnson. Now, Nixon says he’s full go again and ready to start this week at Tennessee.

If Nixon returns to the starting lineup, Gilbert will go back to right tackle — and the Gators could have the starting line they envisioned early in camp if Wilson is good to go after having swelling in his knee last week.

This is a big deal for John Brantley and the offense. The offensive line has a chance to be the strength of this football team — and it can take a ton of pressure off Brantley and the passing game. We saw a little bit of that last Saturday, when the offensive front blew USF off the ball in the fourth quarter and took control of the game.

This is a big, strong and athletic group, and it has the potential the be one of the best offensive lines in school history. On Saturday in Knoxville, we may have a first chance to see these guys play together.

It could make a big difference in what this offense looks like, and what it can accomplish.

15 COMMENTS

  1. This is great news! Our running game should really take off behind these guys and hopefully, Brantley won’t be in such a hurry to throw the ball. On several occasions, JB threw the ball just a little early and missed. Had he waited a little longer the receiver could have made his break and it would have been 6 points!

  2. Rather, Pouncey was at his new, regular position. And where is the help and coaching he is supposed to be getting? Adozzomeyer left him out in the shotgun, in a first start at a new position, way too long in the Miami game when it was clearly a problem. Now we are told that an equipment manager is the “coach” who actually watched what Pouncy was doing and helped make the adjustment and fix the errant snaps. Isn’t Addozmeyer supposed to be the offensive line coach?

  3. Looking forward to the O-line being the group they can be. This year’s Gator offense is more traditional, which means the big guys up front are more important than ever. In the SEC, we need to win at the line of scrimmage…..simple as that. If we can run the ball down hill, everything else will work. That and great defense will lead to our success. Would like to see us bring a little more pressure on defense and be a little more agressive on special teams from the edge (punt and kick block). Go Gators!

  4. Hey rooferman,
    Pouncey got advice from EVERYBODY. That’s the one he liked, and used.
    However, that is HARDLY a long-term solution.
    Unbalancing his feet gives him a less stable base. If he hikes the ball and gets hit by a DT at certain angles, he is more likely to go down.
    Also, by moving a foot back he is favoring moving one direction over another. His choice is to either be at a disadvantage moving the other way, or switch which foot he puts back based on the direction he wants to move. Of course, if he does that, the defense will always know which direction the play is going.
    And of course, NFL centers don’t stand like that, so it will hurt him in the draft if he wants to play center in the pros.
    I’m sure, even as a write this, that Daz is working with Pouncey on some better, long term solutions.
    Nice try at a flame, though. Kudos.

  5. Hey Lizard, I thought fixing the errant snaps now was the point. As for getting hit by a DT, everytime I got hit I’d already moved my feet out of my stance, if I hadn’t, I did not belong out on the field! A staggered stance is not unbalanced: take a look at any well coached quarterback under center. A slightly staggered stance eliminates an unneeded and time consuming half step. Good observation on the pointing, but I say this: fix the snaps first and foremost, then worry about nuance. Moreover, if his stance is staggered on every play, then I guess he isn’t pointing either. Reasonable minds can disagree. As far as the No Fun League is concerned, who cares! Let them develop thier own centers, I want to see the Mighty Gators making good snaps now. Funny thing, the advice he “liked” actually WORKED. I mean, what are we talking about? Me thinks you are too offended I do not think the Addozmeyer actually walks on water. BTW, what is a flame?

  6. Flame (n. , v.)– angry, emotionally-charged rant or response intended to offend or humiliate someone on-line. Poor form, and the hallmark of shut-in trolls everywhere. Lizgrad89 didn’t like your post, but he’s wrong– your post is reasonable and not a personal attack. I happen to agree with him about the stance. Learn good habits and you will always have good fundamentals. Unbalanced is fine for a QB because his first step is almost always straight back. Centers must move well laterally, and a half-step back puts you at a disadvantage moving one way or the other. It’s a real problem that a DEF will exploit, so I hope he learns how to snap correctly soon. If not, it’s Robey time. I like Pouncey, but if he can’t do the job…

  7. Swan-knee: Target hit! Funny thing about football careers, I found out you had to have two knees, one was not enough! You make a great point, asking a center to pull block is asking a lot, the snap is harder than it looks. That might be part of the problem too, new position, shot-gun snap inherently more difficult, and pulling. Hmmm. The good news: seems the problem is better, no real problem with errant snaps v. USF. I sure hope that is a trend that holds up in SEC play!
    John-Yikes! I intended no personal attack, I thought I was just talking football, I’ll be more careful with my Addozmeyer comments in the future!
    Lizard- I apologize and mean no ill will, why am I here?, I care! Go Gators!

  8. Rooferman, I got your back. I was defending you because your post WASN’T a flame. Not sure how I feel about the term “Addozmeyer” but I too have concerns about the play-calling and offensive decisions. And yeah, it’s worth a grin, given all the confusion last December. I saw Miss State run the slot reciever reverse in the red zone last week, and thought: “I miss Dan Mullins’ creativity and timing. Maybe Addazio’s a better line coach than a coordinator.” Looking forward to seeing it all come together in the next two games. GO GATORS.

  9. John, I agree with what you say about the QB stance, and maybe staggered is not ideal, but my point has always been lets get the snap back to Brantley first, then clean it up! I know it is like complaining about the high cost of groceries with your mouth full, but I think the play calling could be improved, especially when what you are doing is not working! I do not expect a perfect game, or season, but in life it is best to avoid the predictable mistakes. Addozmeyer is just my tag for the two-headed coach monster we have, it is not meant as disrespectful, and I’ll try not to use it again. Go Gators, Beat Vols!

  10. Mission accomplished in Knoxville. I’m not sure if its more Addoz or more Meyer, but I’m still not seeing much offensive wizardry. I miss Mullin. I fell strongly that as Brantley matures, our offense will get that familiar sparkle. And if we have to “settle” for another dozen 50+ runs from Demps, I’m OK with that.