Tyler Jordan knew it was going to be different the first time he had face-to-face contact with new offensive line coach Brad Davis. Former offensive line coach Mike Summers was a good technician and teacher, but the fire didn’t boil from his belly and that carried over to the football field with his linemen.
Florida head coach Jim McElwain set out in January to find a way to change that and the answer was Brad Davis. The former North Texas offensive line coach came to Florida with at least a cattle prod approach to get his linemen in gear. Jordan took notice right away.
“First of all, he’s a great dude,” Jordan said earlier this week when asked about Davis. “He comes in during Swamp Life and he brings a whole new mentality to the OLine rapport, more hard-nosed, more aggressive. He comes in and says ‘hey we’re going to kick anybody’s tail in that steps in The Swamp’, or wherever we go to.”
Jordan said in the short three months that Davis has been on campus, he has seen a big change in the way the offensive line goes about their business.
“It gave us a new mindset,” Jordan said. “We’re a lot more physical up front. We’ve got that kind of kick ass mentality. We want to go out there and move the ball, protect the quarterback at all costs, and get yards in the rushing game.
“Coach Davis is a big effort guy. He definitely emphasizes us chasing the plays after the ball is thrown. After the running backs got into a pile, we’re pushing the pile. He’s brought a whole new mentality for us.”
Jordan admits the pressure has increased.
“Especially with Coach Davis coming in, there’s a ton of pressure on us,” he said. “He’s a big… he’s a high effort guy. High effort and he’s hardnosed, but he cares about you. But, at the end of the day he’s going to make sure you’re doing your job and you’re going as hard as you can.”
“He has very high expectations. He wants us running off the ball, striking people, putting our helmets on people, and running, trying to finish them. He’s just a big all-around effort dude.”
Davis seems to have that relationship with the players that he can coach them hard, but they understand where that his intentions are just to get the best out of them.
“Yeah, he’s a cool guy, he’s funny,” Jordan said of Davis before providing an anecdote of how he can relate to the players.
“Yeah, in the meeting room, for the most part he’s serious,” Jordan said. “But then we’re also joking with each other. We have a whole group text where we’ll sit there and try to roast him and he’ll ty and roast back… it’s fun.”
Change in mindset…
Jordan has been a bit of a focal point for McElwain over the last three weeks of spring ball in terms voicing his opinion that he wanted to see more of Tyler. According to McElwain, Jordan knows his assignments and the effort is there, he would like the young man to step up his aggressiveness.
Jordan took the head man’s opinion to heart and in the last week has changed his approach from worrying about the little things, to firing off the ball and getting after it a bit more.
“I was just talking to myself before practice today that I’m not a sophomore anymore, I’m not a young bull anymore,” he said. “I have to step up and be a leader and I’ve got to bring a lot of fire to the field every day and inspire the young guys to do the same.”
Jordan defined what he is doing on a more consistent basis over the last week to 10 days.
“Just coming off the ball more, striking with my hands, running with my feet after the play,” he said. “Not kind of letting off as the ball carrier runs off of my hip, I just keep running.”
Jordan has already seen time in real games at both guard spots and at center. He’s spent most of his time as starting left center at practice, but in the last week he has gotten a ton of work at center with the second group. Some of this may have been facilitated by an injury to backup center Nick Villano, but the fact remains that Jordan is a versatile lineman that they can slide almost anywhere on the line in a pinch of someone goes down.
“I have not worked at left tackle, I got a couple of reps in a walk-through at right tackle,” he said when asked where he has lined up so far this spring. “So, I’ve played everything but left.”
“They want me to get a lot of center reps to kind of build depth, especially since Nick Villano got hurt. We’ve had a couple of guys out, so we’re trying to build depth in a few spots.”
While Jordan enters the spring with the most experience at guard, redshirt freshman Brett Heggie and junior Fredrick Johnson are doing battle with Jordan to start at guard on the line.
“Brett’s a hell of a player, Fred’s a hell of a player, we’re all just working hard,” he said.
Jordan wants to be on the field and he thinks he could play either guard or center, either one will do.
"In the run game I like playing at guard because it lets me kind of get my hand on the ground, I don't have to worry about snapping the ball, I can just let it loose and run off the ball,” Jordan said. “Center, I like having, first of all, control of the offense, the offensive line. I like making the call, protections and stuff like that, combos, but it's easier in the pass game because you're always helping somebody or somebody's giving help to you. So I really don't have a preference. Wherever they throw me, I'm going to enjoy it and I'm going to play."
Staying healthy is key…
Jordan would also like to have some time without the injuries. He was sidelined a bit last year, once with a scar issue in the back of his right eye that kept him out of a few games. Then he was rolled up on his right ankle against Missouri and nursed it back to health only to have it rolled up on again. Lots of missed time wasn’t fun for a guy that craves to be on the football field.
Jordan said it was the most injury riddled season he has ever gone through.
“It was tough, but it was something you fight through as a football player.”
Now, he just wants to get out there in front of 90,000+ screaming fans and play the game that he loves.
“Definitely,” he said when asked if he was chomping at the bit. “I am ready for the spring game and ready for Michigan.”