Road to Atlanta Through Hard Work

With a few years behind him, Florida's redshirt junior offensive lineman Jon Halapio has witnessed a great deal of success and failure at the University of Florida. Halapio's experience allows him to evaluate the many changes that have taken place in Gainesville. Based on what he has seen during fall camp, Halapio is convinced that Florida's offensive line will be significantly better this season.

According to Jon Halapio, Florida's attitude has been noticeably different during this offseason. Now that the depth chart is more functional, the Gators are participating in a more physical camp.

"[Florida head coach Will Muschamp] stressed that a lot. Like he said, going into camp, this was going to be one of the most physical camps and I think he backed it up very well. Just like today. It was raining and stuff and he didn't really feel sorry for anybody. He just stressed that we have to come out there with a good attitude and work hard and get what we want," he said.

In his mind, the change began with Florida's bowl game victory over Ohio State.

"After the bowl game we came in with the mindset that we're going to have to change everything around- our attitudes, our bodies, our strength and just everything all around," he said.

So far, their work ethic has paid off.

"I feel like we've been working hard and everything is coming together. It's coming on very well," Halapio said.

Halapio believes that their struggles have helped the Gators to grow stronger as a team. Since they have overcome many difficulties during the past two seasons, Halapio thinks that Florida is ready to achieve their goals.

"I just think having a year under our belt, especially playing together and going through the struggles last year and just pulling it together and being closer with these guys and definitely just playing with each other for a year we've built that trust factor," he said.

During the offseason, Florida's offensive line coach Tim Davis has helped the Gator linemen to develop and improve, especially in protecting the quarterback.

"That was one of the things we struggled with last year, pass protection, and it was just calls and just studying the defenses. I feel like with Coach Davis this year he has been stressing that a lot," he said.

"It's definitely harder. As an offensive lineman I prefer to run block but it's just something that you have to adjust to because it is a part of the game," he added.

Halapio can see that Florida's new offensive scheme will cause problems for opposing defenses. The motions and shifts involved in offensive coordinator Brent Pease's offense and the athletes Florida has to run the offense are going to make life rough for opposing defenses.

"I feel like [Trey Burton and Omarius Hines] make it very difficult for a defense to adjust to because you never know where they're going to play if they're going to play slot or running back or full back or tight end so I think it's pretty neat how we have those kind of players back there," he said.

"I feel like our shifts and motions will definitely confuse defenses and I feel like with just different looks and personnel in our backfield we're definitely going to confuse defenses," Halapio said.

Since he is blocking for the two sophomore quarterbacks, Halapio has a knowledgeable opinion on their progress.

"[Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel] are both very equal in skill. I can't tell the difference between who's back there. They are both very vocal as leaders and it's pretty neat to see," he said.

"Throughout camp it's been getting more brutal every day and [the quarterbacks] just come out with the same attitude just to lead the offense," he added.

The quarterbacks aren't the only players fighting for playing time.

"We won't know [who is starting] until September 1st," Halapio said of the offensive line.

Halapio is confident that the starting offensive linemen will gel well together despite the uncertainty.

"We started after the bowl game working hard with film and running plays together so we're pretty much going to be comfortable no matter who plays next to each other," he said.

Despite all of the recent disappointments, Halapio and his teammates will enter the season with one common goal in mind.

"We're definitely shooting for Atlanta," he confessed.

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