Florida's Offensive Line
Today, Cardinal Dominance starts a series on the Florida Gators. With today's writing, we will start with the Gators’ highly touted Offensive Line and tomorrow, CD Senior Writer, Shane Stovall will tell you about their successful Defense Line. Early next week, CD will have blogs on the Florida Receivers followed by an article on the UF #1 Passing Efficiency Defensive Backfield in the country. Then late next week, we will present their Running Backs and Quarterbacks and conclude our Florida series with the Gator Linebackers. Dimori scouted many of these guys in High School and should have some special insights into their talents.
Next, during Christmas week, we will have our normal series pitting the Florida O versus the Cardinal D; then Shane will pit the Gator D against the Teddy Bridgewater led Card Offense; finally, Dimori will present the official Cardinal Dominance prediction.
Picture of Xavier Nixon by bleacherreport.com
Today, we delve into the Gator Offensive Line. We will talk about their position Coach, their starting experience, their rankings, and what you can expect they will do and why they will do it.
To set the tone, in his Monday Press Conference, Head Coach Charlie Strong set the stage with his throw down statement: “Our players have got to understand it is going to be a physical game and if we cannot control the line of scrimmage, we are not gonna win the game.” Florida’s Offensive Line is big, successful, and experienced.
The Florida Offensive Line Coach
OL Coach Tim Davis has 29 years of coaching experience at the NCAA and Pro level. Apart from being Director of Player Personnel at Alabama for one season, he has always focused on the Offensive Line/Tight End positions. Davis has coached in 15 FBS bowl games and won a pair of National Championships with Southern California where his O.L. protected 2 Heisman Trophy winners.
Picture of Jon Halapio by gatorcountry.com
Introducing the Gator O Line
The Gators have had eight different Offensive Linemen start games this season and 11 linemen have seen game action. Their two deep roster consists of eight players. Coming out of High School, their Scout rating is an incredible average 4.0 while it is a 3.9 with Rivals. Their starters average 6’4.5” 314 pounds.
LEFT TACKLE, 6’6” 314 POUND XAVIER NIXON. In 2009, Nixon became the first true freshman to start at left tackle for UF since 1992. Currently the true senior has 33 starts. He is on the Senior Bowl watch list and made Phil Steele’s Midseason All-SEC 3rd team. He was a 5 star with Scout and a 4 star with Rivals.
LEFT GUARD, 6’4” 323 JAMES WILSON. Wilson has appeared in 48 games with 16 starts in his career with UF. The red shirt senior has started in 10 games this season. He was a 5 star with both Scout and Rivals. He was Co-Offensive Player of the Game versus uk. Picture by gatorcountry.com
CENTER, 6’4” 299 POUND, JONOTTHAN HARRSION. Harrison has started 26 games in his career. The redshirt junior moved to Center in 2011 and started 13 games and 12 more this season. He was Co-Offensive Payer of the Week against Texas A&M and is on the Rimington Award Watch List. He made Phil Steele’s Midseason All-SEC 3rd team. He was a 4 star for both Scout and Rivals.
RIGHT GUARD, 6’3” 321 POUND, JON HALAPIO. The redshirt junior has started every game this season and was named Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman for his efforts against Vandy. He was Phil Steele’s Midseason All-SEC 2nd team and 3rd string Midseason All-American. Coming out of High School, he was a 3 star for both Scout and Rivals. He started 7 games as a freshman and was named to the 2010 Sporting News All-Freshman Team. He has 32 total starts for the Gators.
RIGHT TACKLE, 6’5” 310 POUND, CHAZ GREEN. The red shirt sophomore has 18 starts as he missed 2 games early in the season with an ankle injury. He was a 4 star with both Scout and Rivals.
Redshirt senior Sam Robey of Louisville Trinity backs up at Left Guard and Center. Freshman D.J. Humphries was named to the S.E.C. All-Freshman team. He started three games for the Gators and participated in all 12.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FLORIDA TO DO
Run, run, and run again. Through 11 games, 66.4% of their plays were runs while producing an amazing 66.1% of their total yardage. Although they have a 1st string Phil Steele Midseason All-American RB Mike Gillislee, you can be sure that trench warfare is a big part of that success.
The Gator’s tendency to run --- and their domination --- is quite evident when you look at two other stats. First, on first down, they run 77% of the time. Second, they average an incredible 5.26 yards per rushing attempt on first down.
When a team is starting out at around 2nd and less than five, your Offensive Coordinator has a ton of flexibility and can go for big plays. And through 11 games, the Gators have been successful on 70 of those plays (gaining more than 20 yards) while for comparison purposes, the Cards have 55.
Running the ball so much of the game will normally wear an opponent down. What further indicates that is what the Florida OL is dictating, UF is outscoring their opponents in the 2nd half 168 to 55.
The Gators do have a pass protection problem as they are giving up an average of 3.0 sacks per game ranking them 105th in the country after 11 games.
Picture of Jonotthan Harrison by gatorcountry.com
SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
As Coach Strong indicated, the Cardinal D is going to have to figure out a way to win the trenches --- particularly on 1st down. If the Gators run the ball 66.4% of the time and average facing UL at 2nd and 5, the Cards are in trouble. UF will suck the life out of the game and the Cards. The great gigantic Gator Offensive Line is what allows this to happen.
Florida's Offensive Line
Begining picture by palmbeachpost.com
Closing picture by gatorzone.com