Notebook: Always be hitting, Hevesy’s message to o-linemen

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Florida offensive linemen Tyler Jordan (64) and Martez Ivey (73) go up against Kentucky in the first quarter of the Sept. 8 game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent]

Florida offensive line coach John Hevesy has a simple game plan for his linemen Saturday in Knoxville.

Play hard and fast — and hit somebody. Always hit somebody.

“We’ve just got to play with confidence,” he said. “We’ve got to go out and play with confidence and have fun playing the game and not be frozen, ‘OK, what are they going to do?’ Just play the game. If you screw up or do something, great. Just do it 100 miles an hour. Stop worrying about being exactly correct or doing it perfect, just go play hard. Go play hard, go play fast, we’ll correct everything we have to correct after.

“(Hit somebody) as hard as you can. And come off the ball as fast as you can. If you’re standing there doing this, A, you’re probably going to be wrong. B, you’re going to get the crap knocked out of you. Better off just go hit them than you be hit.”

Hevesy said the line showed improvement in the win over Colorado State, but there is still plenty of work to be done to become the line he and coach Dan Mullen are demanding.

“We’ve just got to keep working and grinding,” he said. “The biggest thing is just the details, the sense of urgency, the details to everything we do. That’s constantly got to get a lot better. Are there things that we did better in terms of communication? Yes, but to me the attention to detail and a sense of urgency still has to improve. That’s got to improve at a rapid pace and even more now that we’re into SEC games.”

After the line was pushed around in the loss to Kentucky, there was an emphasis in practice last week to play tougher and be more physical. That was evident on the field at times in the win over Colorado State.

“It was better,” Hevesy said. “You see them trying and that’s still a day-to-day process we’ve got to keep getting better at and keep understanding that.

“It’s 100 degrees out here. Learn to fight. Nobody cares if you’re tired. Nobody cares if you’re sore. It’s hot, it doesn’t matter, still have to play the game this week. It could be hot there. We’re going to play in front of 100,000 people. Block it out, and go play hard.”

Pierce ready to rock

The loss of Malik Davis with a broken foot has knocked a hole in the depth at running back. It also gives talented true freshman Dameon Pierce an opportunity to get more game reps. He flashed his potential with a 68-yard TD run last Saturday.

“I’ve been saying Dameon Pierce is a very talented kid,” junior running back Lamical Perine said. “He goes hard on the field and off the field, in the weight room.

“I’m not surprised when he scored. He’s a talented guy, he’s a guy that’s going to be good for the next three to four years. It was nice to see him get the touchdown, first one in The Swamp.”

Freshman TEs developing

True freshman tight ends Kyle Pitts and Dante Lang have seen only very limited playing time, but the coaches are going to continue developing them in practice before making a decision on whether to redshirt them this season.

With the new redshirt rule, a player can play four games at any point in the season and still redshirt.

“The new redshirt rule gives you that flexibility to kind of play that along the season a little bit more than it did in the past,” tight ends coach Larry Scott said. “We’re fortunate enough with that new rule that we don’t have to do that. You can keep their attention, keep them learning and working hard and progressing the way you want to see freshmen progress.”

Scott said Pitts and Lang are talented prospects.

“Love the potential,” he said. “They’ve got size, pretty good football IQs, they’re learning the game, how to play the game and the transition from high school to the speed of the game here in college. And all of the other obligations and different things you have being a student that come along with it. It’s provided a nice platform to do a really good job developing the freshmen.”

14 COMMENTS

  1. Good article Robbie, I really like the O-line part, it’s better to hit than to be hit. And ”go fast” and figure out ”the mistakes” in the film room is great advice. Because at the very least, they’re ”hitting a defender”, and that’s ‘1’ defender that’s not able to tackle a Gator. Go Gators! Rock the Vols!

  2. There was a lot of tentative play in the Kentucky game, where it looked exactly like guys were more worried about making a mistake than putting a helmet on the guy right in front of them. It would be great to see them attack and attack and attack some more. I believe Emmit used to tell his lineman– just block someone, and I will find the hole.

    • Tentative play was there in the Colorado State game as well — especially when the Rams would do something funky like a CB blitz. Either it was not picked up in time or if it was picked up, there would be 1-2 linemen who would fail to slide over AND would also just kinda shuffle around in a confused manner (not hitting anyone), allowing several linemen through. The O-line performed better than the Kentucky game simply because they out-muscled the opponent. When confused, if they had gone out and simply hit someone, that would have been at least 1 less D-lineman that got through. I hope the Gators take the instruction to “just go hit someone” to heart at Tennessee. A win there will do a lot to wipe out the bad memories from the UK loss and assure a bowl appearance.

  3. I love what Hevesy said. essentially the thing to look for in linemen, offensively or defensively for that matter, are violent guys who love playing the game because they can hit people without being arrested. They should be the most carnivorous group on the team. No salad bars for these guys. You want them camping out in the parking lots of Brazilian steak houses!

  4. Sure it is better to hit someone than to hit nobody. I am concerned that they don’t know who to his, after an oline should work together as a unit, not a bunch of individuals. Baby steps as we have numbers but perhaps not great talent at these positions. Continuous improvement is all we can expect.

  5. Brett Heggie is one of the few OL on the Florida roster that hits people in the mouth, and the Gators need to get him back to 100 percent and starting at left guard or center. Hope he takes a big step in that direction this weekend.

  6. It’s hard to respect this coach if he just continues to play the same guys that have sucked for 4 years. emphasis on Martez Ivey. If they can’t play or the won’t play put the new guys in and develop them. It can’t be any worse than it already is. I’ve been saying it about the QB position and now I’m saying it about the lineman, develop the new players that they recruited. The overall lack of effort is pathetic. By the way where is McCoy? He at least gives 110%

  7. If we had a qualified alternative at left tackle Ivey would be moved inside to guard. There’s a reason LT is the position up front that has highest priority for NFL teams. Obviously Tez is our best option there. As for being aggressive, one of the most noteworthy Hall if Fame football coaches, Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd, preached that aggressive offensive linemen get injured less often than guys who hold back to protect themselves. He wanted his guys up front yo hit someone first. As much as offensive styles evolve and change the principles and fundamentals of football remain the same. Hevesy is of the same mind: hit your opponent in the gut before he hits you. It changes the line of scrimmage and can change of reactive group of linemen into a group respected by opponents. It’s certainly something our team needs now.

  8. Possibly the biggest diss in sports is to call an O-line or D-line soft. The UK game exposed our lines as soft, slow strugglers. A step behind, confused schemes, not hitting hard or at all. While showing some improvement in the CSU game, the Rams do not come close the SEC lines our Boys will be facing at UT and the rest of the conference schedule. It’s disheartening to read about our coaches having to address these issues, especially to our very experienced offensive line. Clyde and Ron nailed it. So, if the 1’s play the Vols like they did the Cats, then they shouldn’t be 1’s going forward.

  9. Tampa Gator I’m fully aware that Ivey was pre season all sec. He’s the most over rated lineman in the country. Has never played to his ability and my point is that a coach with balls would not care what the hype says and would make a point by benching the biggest under achiever on the team to send a message.