Mullen challenges Gators’ offensive line: ‘They need to do more’

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Florida offensive linemen Nick Buchanan (66), Stone Forsythe (72) and Brett Heggie (61) are part of a unit which must improve for the Gators to reach their goals. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Coming into the college football season, much of the discussion centered around Florida’s work-in-progress offensive line, with many speculating that the Gators would struggle at the line of scrimmage. 

After five games this season, it’s clear those concerns were warranted. 

Following Florida’s 38-0 win over Towson, UF coach Dan Mullen called out the play of his offensive line, saying the unit’s current performance level isn’t cutting it. 

I challenged them. That has got to improve. That has got to improve for us. The mental toughness of the offensive line in their preparation has got to improve. Those guys have got to,” Mullen said.”I know John (Hevesy) gets on them. They’re young guys. They go, ‘Coach, I’m working.’ No, you’re not, obviously not, because if you were working we wouldn’t have missed assignments, so what you’re doing is not enough. They need to do more.”

And if the Gators hope to win a top-10 match-up on Homecoming against Auburn, it’ll require a greater attention to detail, which Mullen admitted will necessitate preparation away from the field and outside the confines of Florida’s practice facility. 

Mullen didn’t mince words as he continued, saying that if the current unit won’t cut it, the Gators are prepared to look elsewhere, whether it be on the recruiting trail or through the transfer portal.

“If you want to keep doing the same thing over and over again, you’re not going to improve. What are you doing at night? Everybody learns differently. Are you walking it through in the dorm at night? Are you drawing it? Are you watching film?,” Mullen said. “Everybody learns in a different way, OK. And guys have got to learn what’s the best way they learn, what’s the best way they can improve at processing information as they get going, and they’ve got to do it. And if they don’t, then they’re not going to get better, and then we’ve got to find somebody that can.”

With the right side of the offensive line struggling, the Gators brought Richard Gouraige in at left guard and slid Brett Heggie to right guard in place of redshirt freshman Chris Bleich. What resulted was 160 rushing yards Saturday — not a bad result, but a subpar total considering Towson entered Saturday’s contest allowing more than 200 rushing yards per game this season. 

Mullen said Gouraige has continued to improve after a strong preseason camp, which has led to the recent spike in action, and it’ll be important for the Gators to continue utilizing him in order to establish depth in the ranks. 

Considering the current crop has left much to be desired, the development of Florida’s inexperienced offensive linemen may determine the team’s ceiling on offense.

Before Auburn, which boasts the nation’s No. 19-ranked rushing defense, arrives in Gainesville, Mullen is hoping the Gators embrace the challenge in practice. 

“I want to roll guys through. Richard has done a really good job for us. I want to be able to roll guys through. We’d like to be able to maybe get some other guys in a little bit earlier too and maybe get a couple different combinations in there,” Mullen said. “Again, the game was pretty quick, we only got 60 plays, we didn’t have a chance to do that. Richard’s really shown improvement, continues to grow and we got to continue to build that depth on the offensive line.”

10 COMMENTS

  1. Well, I guess this is good for recruiting offensive lineman. But I think it would have limited to negative impact on the current OL. I still don’t think play calling is helping the much maligned OL but it is apparent what we have is not up to snuff for smash mouth SEC football. Maybe we just need to accept that we cannot run and will live an die by the pass. We appear to have a VERY talented group of receivers. Big strong guys that can do damage. Perine is good at pass blocking and can catch. Maybe we just need to move on?

    • Pierce had a great game, and made an excellent cut-back on the first(?) big run. With the current status of the OL, the backs need to try to look for that. Maybe with more carries, Pierce will surpass Perine as a runner, as he certainly did against Towson. Need to be able to mix the backs in seamlessly, though, so the personnel doesn’t tip the D as to what play, or type of play, is coming. I hope they can use the pass to force the safeties back and open some running lanes until the OL can, hopefully, begin to get their assignments right and open some holes.

    • Abandoning the run against Auburn would be a huge mistake. If they can drop back 8 all night Trask will be picked multiple times. Whether they drop back or stack the box, Auburn is going to be in our backfield all night long.

      The best weapon we have against this is Emory Jones. He gives the defense that extra bit of hesitation that opens up our run game. Trask is a pocket passer, he will be hurried and sacked in this game more than he has been in his entire career. If Trask had twelve starts under his belt, I’d say let him sling it ..

  2. God knows the raw talent and size is there in spades. They need to listen to their coaches, then apply. They are good, but they don’t know it yet and when they start believing we will be OK. There’s actually something to the mantra of relentless effort, but effort is futile without a corresponding attitude….but the good news is that there is a discernible, reverberating feedback loop between the two: You can think yourself into a new way of acting, and you can act yourself into a new way of thinking. Snowflakes can’t do that, but athletes — especially Gator athletes — sure as hell can. GO GATORS!

  3. The lights will come on for our O-Line – perhaps the Auburn game is where and when it will happen. The O-Line needs to find an extra gear and open some holes so we can run the ball. This will be the best defense we have faced so far this year. The gauntlet has been cast – are the Gators up to the challenge – this is where boys become men – GO GATORS – BEAT AUBURN!!!

  4. It was written in the commment section here at Gatorpsorts.com last spring, ”In Hevesy we trust!”
    Well, perhaps this particular O-line should look up to a power higher than flesh & bones (see: ’96, ’06-’08).
    Just saying, ’cause it’s about to get real this Saturday at 3:30 in Hogtown. Go Gators! Just win baby!