FORT LAUDERDALE — There is no secret about how Florida found offensive success this season. The Gators relied on an accurate quarterback and an incredible wealth of wide receivers.
Florida had to be a throw-first team with a shaky offensive line that had four new starters.
John Hevesy, the Florida line coach, knows that will probably have to change next season.
“Obviously, the run game, we’ve got to be better all around to get us going,” he said Friday. “We have to be more balanced.”
And the Florida coach feels he’ll have the tools to do it next year.
The Gators will still be relying on those receivers — four of them seniors — in Monday night’s Orange Bowl.
But Hevesy believes that a year of seasoning for a line that will lose only one starter next year — center Nick Buchanan — will change the way the Gators look in 2020.
“I think first we’ve come together as a group. That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “You see as a group we’re on the same page, but individually there’s still things that as you go through the season, my first goal was just to get to that point.
“It’s always the biggest thing is the deficiencies each one of them have that we’ve got to keep working on to get better as a group. We’re bringing 14 of them back that have an understanding of the game. Going into this January, I’ve got 14 guys that understand what’s going on, understand what’s expected of them.”
The 2020 season won’t be the question mark on the offensive line that 2019 was. It was a struggle at times, especially because Florida had to limit the quarterback run part of the game plan that was a big part of the offense coach Dan Mullen and Hevesy used the previous year.
“The way this progression has gone with these young guys coming up, there’s a lot of potential for next year for sure,” Quarterback Kyle Trask said.
Next year, Florida will be almost as experienced on the offensive line as it was inexperienced heading into this season.
“I’ve got three seniors coming up next year with Stone (Forsythe), Brett (Heggie) and Jean (Delance,” Hevesy said. “I’ve got to tell them, if you want to move on from here, here’s this 12-month contract. This time next year where do you want to be?
“What you have to do if you want to play beyond this year, here’s what you need to work on and focus on, and now it puts the onus on them if they want to go beyond this.”
That’s to take nothing away from a group that played well enough for Florida to win 10 games and be in a New Year’s Six bowl.
Just ask Buchanan, the lone senior.
“I feel as though from when we first got the group all together to now, it’s just leaps and bounds different,” he said. “They’ve learned how to come together as a group.
“We’ve all learned how to play in that spotlight, in the big games, and just going from one game to another, being able to improve on your technique and fundamentals, and really just get it done, really come together as a group. I’m truly proud of the offensive line that we’ve had this year.”