Open Practice: In-depth look at the Linemen

Here is an in-depth look at the Florida defensive and offensive line from Saturday's practice that was open to the media and the public. The gators continue to prepare for the opener against Toledo on August 31 and some players showed some real promise that maybe some weren't expecting. Here is our take.

Defensive Line

The starting defensive line consisted of the same four guys with Dante Fowler at the BUCK, Leon Orr at the Nose, Dominique Easley at DT, and Jonathan Bullard. However, here were quite a few times and usually in unique down and distance situations that they changed the front. We saw some with Fowler and Ronald Powell playing the two ends. Easley would be one inside player and then either Bullard or Orr as the other.

They also used Bryan Cox a lot and he stepped up to the plate and showed just why the staff has been high on him since late in spring. I think Cox has the size to be a good one, he certainly looks to have the motor and as I wrote yesterday, he plays with a reckless abandon that they have to like to a certain extent. I truly think this kid will mature into a really good player on the edge for Florida.

Bullard was getting a ton or reps inside at defensive tackle, but mostly in a long yardage situation scenario and with quick guys outside on the edge.

Joey Ivie lined up at second team BUCK opposite COX, but he didn't show as much on Saturday as he did on Thursday. We will continue to watch him.

Darious Cummings and Antonio Riles played a lot on the second team as the two interior guys. Cummings again was a force and my early pick to start next to Easley in the middle early in the season and take the spot. I do hear they are very disappointed in the injury to Damien Jacobs because they really expected him to play well and this is going to hold back his progress.

Riles is new but he shows promise. He certainly looks the part and plays with a little attitude at times. I shouldn't leave off Jay-nard Bostwick who also got some time with the second unit. Bostwick has a hard time against the powerful guys when going toe to toe, but he is quick and can get around them every once in a while. He's still a long way off from being a great player, but there is a lot to work there.

I don't have any issue with Caleb Brantley's hustle, but he has a long way to go technique wise and I watched as Jonotthan Harrison picked all of his 320 pounds up and threw him to the turf one time.

The guys that will most likely excite everyone on game day are Fowler and Powell. They are absolutely electric on the edge and when they get moving it is nearly impossible for our guys to stop them on the other side of the line. Powell usues total quickness, spin moves and the like. If you remember as a freshman and a sophomore he was often apt to run straight into the blocker trying to overpower a guy that is usually 60+ pounds more than him. He doesn't do that at all now, he is a ball of energy out there.

Fowler will use a bit of bull rush and then his quickness. He has more quickness than speed and moves laterally with the best, so a lineman can think he is engaged and a side step and whammo Fowler is right by him.

Cox is the next guy that fits in this mold in my opinion. He plowed over Ian Silberman on one play showing some strength. He blazed by the quick D.J. Humphries on another rep. He of course get beat a few times, but the kid is all effort and showing a bit of everything.

There were times when SAM linebackers Alex Anzalone and Daniel McMillian rushed the passer with three down linemen and they were the fourth. I saw it work once, maybe twice. I am guessing they will still try to work that, but it is likely not something we will see a lot of right away.

After two days of work up front what I see is a very promising pass rush, more with Powell and Fowler on the edge than Bullard and Fowler. I think they can get a serious rush with only four down linemen with that group.

I believe Easley looks good, but I don't think he will be as good as Sharrif Floyd… just a notch below. However, he just appears to be so much more in control this year and not acting stupid. Muschamp got on to him one time for a celebratory dance after a big play when he was supposed to be heading back for the next snap. But as far as at the line of scrimmage and ready to go, he hasn't jumped off sides that I have seen and looks much more mature than in previous seasons.

The other defensive tackle spot is the biggest question to me. I think for run support and not having seen Jacobs, Cummings is the best fit. I am apt to go with Orr when we are talking passing teams. Not ideal because you would rather have one guy.

Rotation wise, you are looking for 8-9 guys in my opinion. The that I believe are a lock are Powell (but he's listed at linebacker most days), Fowler, Cox, Bullard, Orr, Cummings, and Jacobs (assumption). They need at least one more to step up and this is a group that has to rely on Powell, Bullard, and Fowler all being flexible in the positions they can play. Another strong side defensive end stepping up would be ideal and really a second guy as well. That should come from an Ivie, Riles, Bostwick, or Alex McCalister when he returns from injury.

Offensive Line

Jon Halapio is still out and the main starting lineup was D.J. Humphries at left tackle, Kyle Koehne at left guard, Jonotthan Harrison at center, Tyler Moore at right guard, and Chaz Green at right tackle.

Max Garcia saw some reps with the first unit, but he is undoubtedly resting his injury somewhat and also took quite a few reps as the second team at left tackle. He looked good at both spots really.

Harrison continued his outstanding play, but Easley caught him one time a little off balance reached to the back of his elbow and threw him behind him to propel himself to the quarterback. I s aw quite a few stops of Fowler and Powell by Humphries who is certainly good against the lighter guys because his quick feet.

I really like Koehne. I think he is hardnosed and just plays the game with a mean streak. He is so versatile and late in the practice he got quite a few snaps at center. If he doesn't start, he is definitely a very good 6th or 7th guy in the unit.

Green looked good today, the only time I saw him get beat may have very well been a wash when he was blocking Powell on the edge. Powell got by him, but Green pushed him pretty wide, just not sure it was wide enough for the pocket.

This was a better day for Moore as well in my opinion. He did lose one battle with freshman Antonio Riles who actually bull rushed him, but overall a very solid day for the lineman.

Ian Silberman got quite a bit of work with the second group and again just wasn't very effective. On one rep Bryan Cox plowed him back four yards and put pressure on Driskel for an errant pass. He outweighs Co by 50 pounds. He played both guard spots from what I remember and he won a couple of battles, but was very unsteady and looked pretty bad in a couple of spots. I will say this about Silberman, he usually wins the battles against the new guys that don't have the technique to fight with him.

We didn't see the show from big Trenton Brown like we did on Thursday and he worked almost exclusively at right tackle. I really think that will be his home unless he gets more quickness, just can't see giving up the quarterback's blind side that much. That saying, he again engulfed most of the guys he got his hand on. That included Powell on one rep where he got his hands on the lightning quick defender and the party was over. He is definitely in the top eight on the offensive line and in my opinion will play a lot.

Trip Thurman got a lot of reps as well on the second unit, but he didn't really stand out a whole lot.

Then there is Trevon Young. The kid has spent three days on the offensive lineman and looks very natural at it. He isn't winning every battle, but he wins his fair share and he can get to the quick guys and battle with the big guys that try and bully him. He plays tough. I am sure offensive line coach Tim Davis loves this guy. That said, he isn't ready to contribute yet, there is still some work to be done.

On the offensive line, the likely starting lineup as of today and with everyone healthy would be Humphries, Garcia, Harrison, Halapio, and Green. Like the defensive line, you would like to have 8-9 guys ready each week. A couple of injuries and it is hard to find 8-9, but right now you have to put Koehne, Brown, Thurman and Moore with the starting five and in that rotational group. When healthy this appears to be a real solid group with lots of young guys that need to just grow and get better.

Practice for the team starts at 12:21 pm on Monday, the same time as the opener against Toledo. will have full coverage of the action yet again.

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