Harrison excited for Halapio's return

The Florida running game hasn't lived up to expectations through the first two games of the year. With multiple injured offensive linemen and the loss of running back Matt Jones for the first game, the Gators are hoping to get some consistency started on Saturday. The return of road-grading right guard Jon Halapio from a pec injury will go a long way to making that happen.

Lining up next to him for the last three years, Jonotthan Harrison knows the importance of Jon Halapio. He's the most physical lineman that loves to run block. His experience gives him an edge on the scheme, and he's an important part to the leadership of the line.

Between Halapio and Harrison, the Gators have two experienced linemen that can lead the unit.

"(Getting Halapio back) means a lot," Harrison said. "He really was an asset to the offensive line and we missed him a lot. We're glad to have him back."

The two have started next to each other over the last three years. Kyle Koehne has filled in at right guard during the first two games, but there's continuity on the line when Halapio and Harrison are lined up next to each other. They know the calls and the blocking schemes, making it easy to change plays or protections at the line of scrimmage.

That was a problem against Miami. The Gators rushed for just 122 yards in their last game against a Miami defense that struggled to stop other teams' ground games.

"It was just communication issues," Harrison said. "Really there was a bunch of mental errors. Unfortunately there was a bunch on the offensive line, and that's just something coach Davis has been emphasizing is that we really need to communicate if we're going to be successful.

"We can't go out there and one person not fully understand what a call means, even if that call doesn't directly affect him and his assignment. Just complete knowledge, complete awareness of what we're doing."

The blame fell on multiple offensive linemen, but an experienced returner like Halapio should help those mental errors decrease.

It starts in practice. Halapio is the offensive lineman that brings the energy in practice. When a player makes a mistake, he's the first to speak up about it and make sure it gets corrected. It doesn't matter how tired or worn out the linemen are -- Halapio is the one providing the energy.

"He gets worked up, gets the offense worked up and the next thing you know the person in front of him is doomed, really," Harrison said with a laugh. "It gets everybody pumped up. It gets everybody going. We really need that as a team, his leadership is really important."

Harrison said Halapio's strength is "abnormal" and shows when the Gators run behind him. There might be a need for him to get back in a rhythm of a game after missing the first two when he takes the field on Saturday.

"He might just have to knock the rust off the hinges a little bit. Knowledge wise his competence is there. Just like the physical part about it, of course, he's missed a little bit of football now so there's just gonna be that little acclimation period."

There won't be much time for that to happen. The Gators will be facing Tennessee's 6-8, 351-pound nose tackle Daniel McCullers on Saturday. For a team that wants to get the game started on the ground, he'll be a load to move out of the middle.

"He eats up a lot of space," Harrison said. "I can't say that any of us are intimidated by him. I'm not trash-talking, but it's the truth. We just realize that we just need to occupy him if we need to move the ball.

"You just have to get leverage on him. The leverage comes from your explosion off the ball and how you fit on the blocks especially, so just low pad level, low hat level, hand placement. If all those are there when you're executing a block then the block is well-executed."

Saturday is an opportunity for the seniors to make sure they leave Gainesville without a loss to Tennessee. Harrison redshirted during the 2009 season as a freshman, but he hasn't experienced a loss to the Volunteers. Florida tries to make it nine straight against the Volunteers on Saturday.

"It would mean a lot," Harrison said. "It would mean a lot to me. I'm just excited we're still in the running where we can compete for an SEC championship."

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