It all Starts with the O-line

Jason Watkins stepped up last season and filled the huge shoes left empty when Phil Trautwein was forced to miss the season with a stress fracture in his foot. Now, the two of them return for their fifth and final seasons in Gainesville as the bookends of Florida's offensive line.

Jason Watkins has high expectations for the offensive line this season.

"I feel we're going to be the strength of the team and carry the team along," Watkins said.

With three seniors on the line, Watkins feels the chemistry they've developed over the years will make them one of the strongest units on the field when the season starts next Saturday.

"We're so close," Watkins said. "We've been around here forever. There isn't anything new between us. All the jokes have been pulled. It's been a really close bond since we're the last Zook recruits. That goes for all of us, I think there're eight of us left."

And being a senior, Watkins said team leadership is another major role for him.

"Throughout the years, we've always felt like the seniors should be the leaders," he said. "Now we feel like it's on our shoulders. We're trying to show the younger kids how to get it done so that when they get older, they know how to get it done."

It will be tough to judge the effectiveness of the senior leadership early this season, but how much the offensive line has improved should be recognizable almost immediately. The Gators running game has been a sore spot for the last couple years, and it's something Watkins takes personally.

"When everything is said and done, it's all on the o-line," Watkins said. "If the running backs aren't running it's on the o-line. When we score though, that's when we get happy. We want to protect Tebow. If we can accomplish that, we'll be fine."

Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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