Notebook: Gators benefit after move on offensive line

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Florida defensive end Jonathan Greenard returns a fumble 80 yards for touchdown Saturday against Vanderbilt at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Florida once again shuffled the offensive line prior to kicking off against Vanderbilt. Freshman guard Ethan White made his first career start in place of redshirt junior Brett Heggie, while redshirt freshman Richard Gouraige started at the right guard spot made vacant by Chris Bleich’s decision to enter the transfer portal. 

Following Florida’s 56-0 win over the Commodores — UF’s third shutout of the season — coach Dan Mullen praised the efforts of White and Gouraige, albeit in a round-about way. 

“To me, a lot of times on the field is what I don’t see, which is I didn’t see any negative things with those two during the course of the game. I’m looking at a lot of different things,” Mullen said of Gouraige and White. “What I didn’t see on the field is any negatives. Just walking off the field, those two guys did a heck of a job having to come in and play and play with confidence.”

Injury report

Mullen said linebacker Amari Burney was “doubtful” to play against Vanderbilt, and that turned out to be true. Burney was on crutches prior to the game while he deals with an injury to his right knee, while Jabari Zuniga didn’t dress out as he deals with an ankle injury that continues to linger. 

And the Gators didn’t emerge unscathed, as safety Brad Stewart Jr. left the game in the first half with a right knee injury. He did return to the sideline, sans uniform, in the third quarter with the Gators firmly in control. 

Trask has career day

After throwing two interceptions in the first half against the Commodores, Gators redshirt junior quarterback Kyle Trask more than just bounced back in the second half. 

Trask passed for 149 yards in the third quarter as UF turned a once manageable deficit into a blowout. The Manvel, Texas, native would finish with 363 passing yards — a career-high for the former back-up. His passing total was the highest amount of passing yards by a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow’s final game with the Gators, and Trask also became the first UF quarterback since Tebow to throw for 275-plus yards in three or more games in a season. 

“We’re going to take what they give us and highlight the strengths of our players. We’ve got a pretty good, pretty deep receiving corps” said Mullen. “We spread the ball around a lot. We have a lot of different guys touch the ball, and there’s a benefit to that. Allows the quarterback not to force things and just take what they give us, and it was working, so we just stuck with it. Right? What did we throw for? 410? That’s a good game.”

First SEC shutout in seasons

With the 56-0 win, Florida not only improved to 5-0 at home this season — the Gators secured their third shutout of the season, marking the first time since the 1988 season that UF shut out three opponents in the same season. It also marked the first time since Florida’s 38-0 victory over Kentucky in 2012 that the Gators had blanked an opponent in a conference match-up. 

Greenard goes the distance

Graduate transfer Jon Greenard’s impact has been well-documented this season. But many didn’t expect him to do what he did in the third quarter Saturday. Following true freshman Mohamoud Diabate’s strip-sack, Greenard scooped up the loose ball and sprinted 80 yards in the other direction for Florida’s first defensive touchdown of the season. Greenard had good reason to be huffing and puffing, too; his dash marked UF’s longest return since Ahmad Black’s 81-yard return against Penn State in the 2011 Outback Bowl. 

8 COMMENTS

    • OK, so I just read on another site that Heggie was out yesterday on concussion protocol. White has now played in 3 games, which means he only gets to play in one more game this season before the coaches burn his red shirt.

      Having to burn a true freshman OL’s red shirt in order to continue to play him this season will speak volumes about the total inadequacy of the remaining McElwayne recruited OLs.

      CDM must land another 5 OLs in the 2020 recruiting class! The sooner he flushes out the remaining chaff in that offensive line, the better for the Gators’ future SEC performance.

      • Taking a cue from UCF, FSU now at 5-5 is ready to declare a national championship season. 😎

        We have 2 more games against jokes that we better take seriously, so burn whatever redshirts you may — but damnit, beat Mizzou and FSU!!

        • I agree the Gators must do whatever needs to be done to finish out this season with 11 wins. It’s absolutely vital to their recruiting success in 2020 and beyond.

          I’m just amused I had to defend my obvious position on the inadequacy of Mac’s OL recruits all week long and then this happens.

          After all, it isn’t like there aren’t SEVERAL other Mac recruit OLs sitting right there on the bench that Hevesy could start before burning a TRUE freshman’s red shirt!!!

          • I wonder what ever happened to that UF graduate physician who used to go by the moniker of “Mac’s Stinkin’ BBQ Sauce”. That guy was hillarious, except for lining up with my arch-enemy from time to time…..pretty good football mind, too.