Depth Deception

There has been a lot of talk about the depth of the Florida offensive line. Even some of the players get falsely caught up in talking about the depth saying there is a three-deep roster at the various positions. The fact is, Florida is low on numbers along the offensive line but is using the intelligence and athletic abilities of their best players to ensure that won't be an issue in the fall.

Head coach Will Muschamp will tell you that in any given year they would like to have 16-18 scholarship offensive linemen on the roster. The Florida Gators have 14 scholarship linemen and several of those have no chance of seeing the field in 2013.

So, how are they going to cope? With talent and a bit of double, triple, or even quadruple training at different positions so that on any given Saturday in the fall they can put the best five and a good five players out on the field in the unit.

Senior Jonotthan Harrison who will start his third season as the Gators center says that the guys that can play more than one position have shown to be invaluable to the line, maybe especially this fall when a couple of the key players have also been down.

We have a couple of players like that," Harrison said of sophomore transfer Tyler Moore and his ability to play multiple positions along the line. "Him, Kyle Koehne, and Trip Thurman… on the offensive line and they can play any position on the line. That increases their value. If someone needs a break they can hop in there real quick and do what they need to do. Coach knows he has that option and that flexibility."

"It gives us even more depth than what the numbers show."

The key word for offensive lineman that we hear all the time is ‘continuity'. Getting the feel of the guy next to you on the line is supposed to be something that creates harmony in the unit.

Offensive line coach Tim Davis sees it a little different. Of course he doesn't want to send guys out there that have never played next to each other before, but the most important for everyone on the line and actually everyone on the offense, is to know what everyone else is doing on any one given play.

If your right guard knows he is supposed to tag block on an interior lineman and then work himself to the next level to get to the ‘most dangerous man', he also needs to know that the backside guard is making a quick move to the second level and may be getting the most obvious dangerous man, which in turn means the right guard could move to another defender to block opening up more turf for the running play.

This is the synchronization they are looking for along the offensive line and it comes from the right guard knowing exactly where that left guard is headed. It could be the difference from a busted play to a huge play.

Again, they aren't talking about switching positions for the hell of it, but it is all about getting the guys that know what is happening on the field and the best five guys that can make it work.

Junior Chaz Green understands what Davis and company are preaching between continuity and knowing what is going on.

"It's important," Green said of continuity. "But, it is more important to understand the offense and each play and what we are trying to get done on each play do that everyone understands what we are trying to do."

The good thing is, of the 8-9 players they feel real comfortable with, almost all of them are trained at two positions or more. Senior Koehne can play all five positions. Moore can play all five. Green can play both tackle spots as can freshman D.J. Humphries. Sophomore Trip Thurman can play guard or tackle. Junior transfer Max Garcia has been learning both left guard and left tackle. The list goes on.

"We have a lot of flexible guys that can play a lot of positions," Green said. "God forbid that an injury happens during the year it is good to have guys that can step in and play multiple roles.

"We all cross train. We like to work as a unit. There are hardly many guys that play one position so if that time comes in the game and our number is called, we can go.

"Everyone has been getting a fair share at every position. I have been at right tackle, but a lot of guys have been rotating in and cross training to get familiar with the offense."

And there is no jealousy or animosity in the group over the cross training. They are gaining a lot of valuable knowledge and get to rest as well as others come in for their spot on the line. That can only make for stronger play late in the game if they make some adjustments in-game due to fatigue or change in game plan.

"We love the depth," Humphries said of the faux numbers. "Everybody is working together with the whole process. Everyone is just working well together.

As the leader of them all, Harrison knows the real value of what is going on with the cross training.

"It is just really helpful to have such depth and flexibility on the line," he said. "A really stagnant line is where players only play a single position, but the fact we have several players that can play other spots, it helps the offensive line progress as a unit."

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