"I think that's just a part of the natural transition of what happens as you start a season," said Summers. "Those guys get out and play a game at full speed and find out what that tempo is all about and understand that things happen faster at game time than they do in practice..I that's a natural progression from Game 1 to Game 2. I did think that they really came together well this past week and I was encouraged with how well all five of them played as a unit.
"It really got me excited to see that they understood the things that needed to improve from Week 1 to Week 2 and kind of looked that dead in the face and took on that challenge and really went out and did that,"Summers added They played a more complete game I thought against Kentucky and really showed that with what we were able to do in terms of production."
"They certainly were motivated for Kentucky, our first SEC team opener. It was a big ball game and they responded well to it."
The Gators' talent at running back is certainly a huge motivation for the men on the offensive line to perform. With five backs that can breakaway, the pressure is on the the line to make sure the running backs can perform to their best abilities.
"They know we’ve got guys that if we can get them to the second level they’re gonna make guys miss, they’re gonna punish guys that come up and try and tackle them and that is a driving force for motivation if you’re an offensive lineman," explained Summers. "You put your hand in the dirt and come off the ball, you wanna know that we’re pounding guys. I think that was apparent Saturday. The more we ran the ball, the more it took out of the defensive front and it took out of their linebackers and it softened their defense throughout the whole game..and that’s offensive line play.
"Our run game is critical to everything that we do. I think that what we do starts in that area," he added. "We want to establish the line of scrimmage certainly and every coach that stands in front of you is gonna tell you that games are won or lost at the line of scrimmage and we have to establish the line. We go in every game to do that, but when you’ve got backs like we’ve got that are physical and big it certainly makes that job a lot easier."
It is no secret Summers' offensive line is still going through some growing pains. Last season lack of numbers and injuries caused some depth issues in the trenches, however, today Summers is confident that the "long climb" was worth the struggle.
"Numbers were just in really bad shape, and so we’re gradually building our way back to where we’ve at least got depth. Certainly we need every year to improve our talent level as we go forward, but we’re in that road, that climb back now, and I think we do have some bodies to work with and some guys that are in there developing right now as we go forward," he said. "Certainly most of those guys that we’ve had in the last year, year and a half, those guys are really young and really inexperienced, and so we’re having to deal with that as a depth issue right now, but we’re a lot better off right now than we were when I first came in.
"What they don’t have is experience playing together. I think if we can continue to stack some of these games together back to back, I’m really encouraged by what they can be.”
One offensive lineman that has received plenty of attention for his efforts the last two weeks, and more accurately the last year, is freshman tackle, Jawaan Taylor. The freshman came onto the scene in the opening game against UMass and helped steady the line when they struggled. On Saturday once again he proved crucial, as the Gators put together a dominant offensive display. His performance against Kentucky and his consistent performance at practice has earned him a chance to compete for a starting spot.
"He’s a guy that has put himself in that position. By what he did on Saturday, he’s put himself right there where I’m confident he can go out and play for us right now," he said. "He'll play a bunch this week. We haven't set our starting lineup yet, but he's a guy that's competing for that right now."
Taylor had to work for every opportunity, however. The lineman was a frequent visitor to campus as a high school recruit, but at one point had to fight to earn an offer to play at the next level. The Florida coaches had advised him that in order for him to play Division one college football, he would need to lose weight because his size hindered his movement. The day the coaches told him he needed a lifestyle change was the day Taylor began his transformation. Forty pounds later and now Taylor is fighting for a larger role at Florida.
“Absolutely amazing," said Summers about Taylor's transformation. "He put himself in a position to be recruited. That got him here. His willingness to commit to all of the things he had to do to lose the weight and put himself in that position.
"Since he’s been here he’s just been an absolute joy to coach," added Summers. "He is a sponge for information and knowledge. He’s worked really hard on his technique and has the physical gifts and strengths that allow him to go out and execute and do a good job. I can’t tell you how elated I was at how he played on Saturday. He got in there early, played most of the game, and really handled himself like a veteran. I was so excited about what he did. To know what he brings to our offensive line in terms of strength and toughness and just a real focused effort. And that’s what we got from him Saturday.”
Summer points to Taylor's "heavy hands" as a major positive to the freshman's skill.
“Some guys put their hands on you and you don’t really notice it. He strikes his hands and you can kind of feel it in your teeth. It kind of rattles them when he puts his hands on you," said Summers. "He disarms defenders with his ability to punch. That’s what has put him in a position to play because most freshmen aren’t physically able to do that. So, I’m excited for what he can be and what he’s done so far.”
On Tyler Jordan injury
“We’re trying to evaluate where he’s at right now," he said. "But we’re just trying to see where that’s at right now with everything.”
On Martez Ivey
“He’s had an interesting set of circumstances to deal with, having not played all spring and really been limited in ability to do a lot of training in the offseason. To get back out and start into game action has been really beneficial to him. There’s been some rustiness there that I think from from Week 1 to Week 2 got a lot better," said Summers. "He got out there, he got a chance to play again, got the chance to get involved with game speed, and that’ll just continue to grow and get better. But I was encouraged, really encouraged with what he was able to do against Kentucky.”
On David Sharpe
“I’ve been really encouraged with him. He’s been really solid in his pass protection, and really something I’ve seen him do from last year to this year is really see him finish plays a lot better than he did last year. I see the end of plays being a lot more physical, a lot more complete, the play doesn’t just melt away - there’s a finish to a lot of plays that he has. And then the other thing that he’s bringing to us is a lot more leadership... I think just his experience and things that he’s been able to do on the field gives him a strong voice in the meeting room, a strong voice with our offense."
On Cam Dillard
Can has “his hands full with this group, trying to make sure that we’re in the correct blocking scheme, that we’ve identified the targets the right way. Those are all jobs that he has to do," stated Summers. "Along with that, he has to make sure that the combinations are going to the right spot to deliver the football and then execute his job, and he has really shown a lot of improvement in an area that may have been a concern. I think he’s been very solid in these first two games and I’m excited about what his future can be. He just is in the right spot, he plays hard and has been very physical."