Offensive Line Now a Concern

The journey from being a deep proven unit to a bit of a question is a short one in college football these days. The Florida Gators found out how short when they lost starting offensive tackle Phil Trautwein to a stress fracture in his foot.

In just one day the offensive line went from an established strength with four returning starters to a question mark with a true freshman in the starting lineup.

Maurkice Pouncey will be the first true freshman since Reggie Green in 1992 to start on the Gators offensive line opening day. Pouncey was impressive in the spring and early in fall drills and certainly should become a top flight blocker. But the question is will two games be enough to have him ready to handle the job when Tennessee comes to town?

The injury also has an effect on the rest of the Florida linemen. It puts more pressure on sophomore Jason Watkins who will be making his first career start against Western Kentucky. It puts added responsibility on Drew Miller, the leader of the unit in the middle as well as Jim Tartt and Carlton Medder.

Florida's reserve linemen now have to raise their game. Carl Johnson should step into the role as the first guy off the bench followed Mo Hurt, Marcus Gilbert, Michael Pouncey and Eddie Haupt. Those guys have to push aside their aches and pains and be ready to perform if/when called upon. Even down the line guys like Simon Codrington, Jim Barrie and Corey Hobbs could eventually find themselves in important roles should Florida suffer further setbacks in the trenches.

There are not many things injury-wise that are trickier than stress fractures. They are hard to diagnose and difficult to ensure complete healing. Generally, rest is the only treatment option, which is frustrating to coaches, medical staff and athletes alone. Trautwein may be out two weeks, but then again it could be two months before the top tackle on the Gator roster is able to return to duty. In the meantime, the young guys have to get down and dirty in order for this offense to do the damage most of us believe it's capable of doing.


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