Gilbert Comfortable Protecting the Blind Side

Before camp started, Marcus Gilbert looked like the offensive lineman most locked in at a position. That has quickly changed. The senior is most comfortable at right tackle, but injuries could force him to switch to left tackle.

"The best way for a lineman to become a great player is to play multiple positions," Marcus Gilbert said. "I think that's a neat deal with what we do. All of our drills are similar to each position. That takes care of it."

Gilbert spent last season at right tackle where he protected the left-handed Tim Tebow's blind side. With John Brantley being right-handed, the switch to left tackle would have Gilbert protecting his blind side as well.

There are slight differences in technique at the position, but Gilbert has been in the program long enough to be comfortable at either position.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal," Gilbert said. "We just have one responsibility, that's to protect the quarterback and not allow any sacks. We've got to keep defenders off him. I've played right most of my time in football. Switching over to left, it's a pretty hard transition, but I'm getting the hang of it."

The only way Gilbert would slide to left tackle is if injuries do not improve. Left tackles Matt Patchan and Xavier Nixon both haven't returned to full contact practices. Head coach Urban Meyer expects Patchan to return shortly, but the staff is more up in the air on Nixon.

"Whatever is in our coaches' hands, I let them control the situation," Gilbert said. "I think (Patchan) will be just fine."

There are two defensive ends that stick out to Gilbert, and luckily for the Gators, they are the two projected starters. Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens are both seniors with plenty of experience in the program. With Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham in the NFL, the Gators are left with plenty of questions about providing a pass rush.

William Green and Ronald Powell will add a pass rush off the bench, but it's the two seniors that stood out in camp.

"They go hard and make me better," Gilbert said. "They're the two hardest working guys on the team. Going up against them makes me better."

The seniors aren't just making an impact on the football field. Multiple players have referred to them as the energetic leaders of the defense. They have spent time working with the younger players, but their biggest impact comes in keeping players excited and focused at practice.

"(They've) got a lot more energy," Gilbert said. "Practices are a lot more fun going up against guys that love football."

After Coach Meyer said Monday that the Florida freshmen class came to campus expecting to dominate as they did in high school, Gilbert isn't surprised. He has seen every freshman class that came to Gainesville in his time have that same vibe, including his own.

"The same thing happened with our class," Gilbert said. "We thought it would be the same thing. Coming to college ball, it's a lot faster. It's a lot more aggressive, hard-nosed football. Most of them realize what they got into."
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