Halapio Ready for SEC Challenge

The Florida offensive line is one of five units in the country that has played two games and hasn't allowed a sack this season. It hasn't come against the best competition, but for a line that comes into Saturday's game with only 31 career starts, the season has started as well as the unit could've hoped for. Jon Halapio thinks it has a lot to do with his new position coach.

"I credit it to Coach Verducci," Jon Halapio said. "He's teaching us technique and the plays, and we've been working hard ever since camp."

Out of the 31 career starts at Florida that the offensive line boasts, junior Xavier Nixon has recorded 15 of them. The number is a little deceiving because of the experience left guard Dan Wenger had before coming to Gainesville. Before transferring from Notre Dame to help the offensive linemen make the transition into Weis' offense, Wenger started 19 games for the Irish.

However, it's still an offensive line unit that is doing its best to create chemistry.

"I feel like we've played a lot better these past two games," Halapio said. "It shows on the field because we haven't given up a sack. Our goal is not to give up a sack this year. We're trying to be the best offensive line this year."

Halapio was called for two penalties against UAB, including a holding call that negated a Chris Rainey rushing touchdown. The Florida coaching staff was unhappy about the call during the game, and their opinion didn't change after watching the film.

"I didn't see a holding call at all, and (the coaches) didn't see a holding call at all," Halapio said. "I had two penalties, but the first one I didn't believe I was holding. On the second one, yeah I blocked in the back."

The fire Will Muschamp showed and directed towards the officials is one of the reasons the players enjoy playing for him. It's similar to the way they felt after seeing the Muschamp's reaction to Sharrif Floyd's two-game suspension by the NCAA.

"It just shows a lot about how much he cares about his players," Halapio said.

The offensive line has helped Chris Rainey to 198 yards on the ground, while Jeff Demps has recorded 115 of his own. As SEC play starts on Saturday, the players got a different lesson in blocking this week.

The coaches have spent time preaching to players the importance of blocking until the whistle for their two dynamic playmakers.

"Coach Weis was coaching us (Monday) about it," Halapio said. "When Rainey and Demps have the ball, we play to the whistle because you never know what them two may do with the ball. He's just telling us to hold our blocks as long as we can."

The offensive line now is getting ready for its toughest challenge of the season. Tennessee's SEC defensive line will pose a test. Halapio singled out two defensive tackle Montori Hughes and middle linebacker Nick Reveiz from last year's Volunteers defense that stood out, but both players aren't on the team anymore.

Regardless of who is on the defense, things have changed in the Florida locker room.

"Everything is more intense this week," Halapio said. "We feel like the preseason is over, and we're just getting ready for Tennessee. It's a big game."

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