Addazio Excited About his Offensive Line

Steve Addazio met with the media Thursday to discuss the status of the Florida Gators after spring football has concluded around the SEC. Addazio assumed Urban Meyer's position during the teleconference while Meyer continues to take a hiatus form some of his duties as the Gators' Head Coach. Addazio talked extensively about the offensive line and quarterbacks from spring.

According to Steve Addazio, the Gator coaching staff got a great glimpse of what lies ahead for the 2010 Gators in the 15 practices conducted in March and April. Young guys were all around as some older players healed from injuries or just sat for a bit to allow some younger players a chance to get in the action and see what they can do.

"We had a great spring practice, a lot of young guys out there and taking a lot of snaps," Addazio said. "Some of the veterans were held out and spring is a opportunity to see what the young guys can do. It was a real positive. There was a lot of development by a lot of guys. Walking out of spring we felt like we had a good look at the 2010 Gators."

Addazio loves the nucleus of his returning offensive line. First round draftee Maurkice Pouncey is gone from the center position, but four starters do return for a very veteran and versatile group.

"Obviously expectations are high," Addazio said of the offensive line. "We feel like we have one of the best offensive lines in the country. Guys are coming back and we have a great deal of experience. Obviously we lost a very talented player in Maurkice Pouncey, but we have four returning starters and two other guys that have played a lot of football here. The offensive line needs to be strength of our team. We have a high expectation level and look forward to that challenge."

Addazio wants his group to mature off the field in the off-season. He wants them ready to compete when August rolls around.

"Fundamentals are huge and staying in great physical condition," he said when asked what he wants from his group over the summer. "We feel our offensive line is very athletic. Strength and conditioning...they do a great job of that here with Coach Marotti and that is critical....developing the guys in terms of chemistry. Chemistry is a big thing, our guys being around each other."

Addazio believes he has another superstar at center in the form of Maurkice's brother Michael Pouncey. Michael made the decision to stay for his senior year and Addazio believes he can make bigger noise in the NFL draft a year from now than his brother did who went in the middle of the first round to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I think that Michael can even be better (than Maurkice)," Addazio said. "He has another year and with another year at this position you can continue the development. In my opinion, he is the best offensive lineman in America. He is tough, physical...he is a leader. He can play guard, center, and he played tackle this spring. He can play all three positions. He will start out at center but can play all three spots...his versatility is incredible. I think he can take it a step further."

While the starting group is very experienced and mature, there is a group of younger players on the offensive line that are just an injury or two from having to get on the field. Addazio recognizes the importance of getting those young guys ready.

"Especially in our conference it is such a physical and demanding schedule," Addazio replied when asked of the importance of getting the young guys ready. "You have to have depth. To get through a season with only five offensive linemen is not realistic. You have to develop your young guys. You have to develop them early and get them in games so you aren't confronted in week seven when you have a rash of injuries.

"If a guy has to step up in the middle of the season, that is difficult to do. You are in a race against the clock to develop depth. Depth is critical, especially since we want to play a very physical brand of football in a very physical conference so I think having depth is critical to our success."

The play of junior quarterback John Brantley will likely be the tale of how the season goes for the Gators in 2010. By all accounts Brantley had a strong spring and Addazio and the team have the utmost confidence in Tim Tebow's replacement at the helm of the Gator offense.

"Johnny had a great spring which was no surprise," Addazio said. "He had a great fall as well. He did a great job of stepping in and walking that huddle. Our team has a great deal of respect for him...confidence in him. There was tremendous confidence in him last year as well and he is one of the top quarterbacks in our conference. He continued that this spring and his play was great this spring. We have great expectations for John, he is a really talented guy and has prepared and trained well for this opportunity.

Behind Brantley will be a trio of quarterbacks that will be used in different ways when they do get a chance to get on the field. This spring, true freshman Trey Burton got the bulk of the snaps as the second guy even though Burton just enrolled at UF from high school in January. Addazio likes the athleticism of the group.

"Coming out of spring we had Jordan Reed and Trey Burton competing at that position," Addazio said. "Trey Burton just got here from high school early and had a phenomenal spring. We are real excited about his progress. Jordan Reed has been here a year and has played some at tight end and as well as some quarterback for us. He has great arm strength and is a tremendous athlete. Both of those guys give us great athleticism and can come in the game and throw the ball down the field. Of course Tyler Murphy will be coming in here."

The Gators have been on a tremendous run over the last four years and it will be difficult to match that run in 2010. Three 13 win seasons in four years is something that will be hard to maintain. Addazio looks forward to trying to tackle the expectations of this somewhat younger team.

"It's a great challenge because you are playing in the greatest conference in college football," Addazio said. "There are such great programs, coaches and players in the SEC. The challenge comes every day in this conference.

"There is no question that maintaining a high level in this conference takes a tremendous amount of work, but that is why we all love playing an coaching in this conference. You certainly know you have your work cut out for you. The great thing is everyone knows that so there is great motivation. There is a great amount of pride for all the programs and its a great place to be and look forward to the challenge."

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Addazio was asked about the status of Urban Meyer and stayed away from really talking about Meyer's health but relayed that the Gators' Head Coach is doing well.

"Coach is doing great and it's business as usual," he said of Meyer before relating that he isn't worried about Meyer. "I have my eyes focused on the development of the offensive line and the offense and getting ready to roll for a great 2010 season."

When asked if Meyer would be the coach representing the Gators in Destin (FL) at the spring coaches' meetings Addazio said, "I have no idea."

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Addazio wouldn't comment on the Aaron Hernandez speculation going around in the media about supposed multiple drug test failures.

"I'm just happy for Aaron, obviously he was drafted by a great organization," he said. "...Due to federal privacy laws and student records, that is nothing I can dive into. I know he released a statement that came out a couple of days ago."


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