Time for change on Florida’s most offensive line

By Adam Silverstein
October 25, 2013

How poor has play been throughout the Florida Gators’ offensive line over the last two weeks? Consider the fact that opposing defensive linemen are racking up weekly awards from the Southeastern Conference each Monday by having career games against Florida’s atrocious front on Saturday.

Two weekends ago, LSU sophomore defensive end Danielle Hunter put together the “most complete game of his career,” according to his school, with seven tackles including one for loss (on third down) and two pass breakups in just his fourth career start. He was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week.

The Tigers’ defense dominated the Gators’ offensive line, holding Florida to 240 total yards while recording season-highs of four sacks, eight tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries.

It was more of the same last Saturday when Missouri redshirt senior DE Michael Sam tore up UF’s offensive front. Sam knocked Florida back 22 yards on three sacks and registered one more tackle and quarterback hurry on the afternoon. He was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

These Tigers held the Gators to just 61 yards of total offense in the first half.

Florida’s offense certainly has its share of problems, both on and off the field, but the most but the biggest is undoubtedly the incredibly offensive play of its line.

“We’re inept offensively. We have a hard time running it and certainly can’t protect very well,” Muschamp said after the loss to Mizzou. “We’re struggling right now to get the right combination, to get guys blocked, the run and the pass game. We’re doing everything we can do. We shuffle guys around. We just got to get better.”

The biggest issue for the Gators has been the play of its tackles.


Sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries has played well at times, but his struggles late against LSU got him pulled from the starting lineup at Missouri. He saw some action but was still not up to snuff with his protections and run blocking.

“I think so,” said Muschamp when asked if Humphries would start going forward. “D.J. Needs to play better and he knows that. I’m not telling you anything he and I haven’t talked about. Just be more consistent in his play, in his sets as far as the pass game is concerned and sealing the edges in some things. … He’s a guy that certainly football is very important to him and playing well is important to him.”

Even worse has been the play of redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore, who has failed to display the athleticism and quick feet necessary to stay in front of top-end pass rushers. He has, simply put, become a turnstile at the end of the offensive line.

Moore, coming off a year in which he did not play football while attending St. Petersburg Community College, was supposed to be a reserve at tackle for the Gators, but a season-ending shoulder injury suffered by redshirt junior starter Chaz Green thrust him up a spot on the depth chart.

“We’re a little short some tackles right now,” said Muschamp. “I think Tyler can play much better than he’s played. He has shown the ability to do that. And so we’re going to continue to look for that five, those five guys – whether him being one of them I don’t know at this point – that can play better.”

Sitting Moore at this point seems to be a given. Where Florida will go from here with the offensive line is anything but assured.

One option would be putting redshirt junior Max Garcia, UF’s starting left guard, at right tackle with redshirt senior Kyle Koehne taking over for Garcia, but the Gators like Koehne’s versatility and ability to fill in at multiple spots during games.

Redshirt junior Ian Silberman and redshirt sophomore Trip Thurman could also see more work, but Florida could also look to junior transfer Trenton Brown (6-foot-8, 361 pounds) and freshman Octavius Jackson for some immediate help.

“I think Trenton’s a guy that needs some opportunities and some turns. We’ve got to get him in there and let him play some,” Muschamp said. “Octavius Jackson has been repping with us. There’s some possibilities there. We’re continuing to get some continuity up front.”

In the end, what is most important is that the Gators do something, anything, to fix a unit that has always been flawed but at least started the season playing respectably. It has completely fallen apart over the last two weeks.

“We need to settle on a five and let those guys play right now. We’ve underperformed, obviously. I think we’re better than what we put on the field, the last two weeks especially,” Muschamp said.

Expect the offensive staff to simply some of its calls and reduce the strain being put on the offensive line to be versatile in its responsibilities. The Gators will likely go back to basics in order to help improve confidence and speed up the mental side of the game, which should, in turn, help them contribute positively on the field.

“It’s better than what we’ve played,” Muschamp said.

Actually, it’s not. All that matters is what happens in the game.

As Muschamp likes to say, to quote one of his own oft over-used idiomatic phrases, “It is what it is.”

11 Comments

  1. Michael Jones says:

    That’s a good article, Adam. Stuff that needed to be said. Humphries is a huge headscratcher. You know, another setback that we hardly even mention anymore is the loss before the season of Jessamen Dunker. I had forgotten all about him but he was also highly touted and came in with Humphries. Humphries was a 5 star, I believe, and Dunker was a 5 or a 4. Chaz Green, Halapio for part of the season, Dunker, Humphries declining and Moore not playing as advertised. . huge hits. Ian Silberman was also a very highly touted recruit who so far has not played up to his billing.

    We absolutely have to recruit better on both sides of the line. I don’t know where UGA, Bama, LSU, and S. Car. get their athletic, wide-bodied animals that absolutely crush their opponents, but we need to find out and start signing some of those guys.

  2. Michael Jones says:

    And if we’re going to go 6-6 or 5-7, then let’s start playing and developing our young kids. There’s some talent there, Muschamp. Quit saying “they deserve more opportunities” and just give them the opportunities they deserve.

    Inexcusable that Muschamp never went back to Taylor while there was still time to win that game at Mizzou. One more bonehead move. Mizzou never did stop Taylor. Muschamp did.

  3. SWFL Joe says:

    LSU opponents total yards
    TCU -259
    UAB -296
    KENT ST -249
    AUBURN – 437
    GEORGIA – 494
    MISS ST – 468
    UF – 240
    OLE MISS – 525

    MISSOURI opponents total yards
    MURRAY ST – 297
    TOLEDO – 387
    INDIANA – 475
    ASU – 435
    VANDY – 468
    GEORGIA – 454
    UF – 151

    Keep this up and we will be everybody’s homecoming opponent.

    • nugent1021 says:

      interesting stats. thanks. Lets grab Dana Holgorsen from West Virginia when he gets canned for having a terrible defense 2 years in a row. We’d be unstoppable. He’s like the bizarro Muschamp. But, Muschamp would have to let him do the offense. Here’s an idea, since Muschamp apparently only says “that’s on me” for anything defensive (I don’t think he understands that it’s ALL ON HIM), why don’t we just have 2 coordinators and no head coach? Foley can be the head coach. Muschamp has had some inspired defenses. I’m fully of the opinion that he can coach defense…..only.

      Obviously, Petersen at Boise State is the brains over there. Dan Hawkins was the previous head coach over Petersen (who was his Offensive Coordinator) at Boise State. Colorado thought he’d be their next great head coach. 5 years and 19-39 record later…..he killed that program. Petersen carried Dan Hawkins, then he apparently carried Pease. I think everyone deserves a chance. Pease had his chance. 2 years. Time to go for that guy. $1mil/yr basically, the learning curve is pretty steep at that rate. I’m going to put the wine down before Justin comes in and blows me out of the water and calls me female genitalia.

      • Michael Jones says:

        Bahaha. . .that’s pretty funny. Love the 2 coordinators and Foley as the HC idea. Either that, or turn Muschamp’s headset off when we have the ball. I see him talking on it when we’re on offense. A LOT. He’s not the “turn it loose” -and-let-the-OC-do-his-job kind of a guy. He’s a micromanaging kind of guy.

        You and others have made good points about Petersen. Maybe you’re right. I just can’t believe that Pease didn’t at least learn more offense by accident than what he’s shown so far.

        Knowing how the coaching fraternity works, we’ll probably never know how much Muschamp tied Pease’s hands (if at all), unless Pease goes somewhere else and lights it up. I think the problem is offensive philosophy more than anything else. And philosophy is the head coach’s department. And our offensive philosophy is an offensive philosophy. The analogy I’ve used often is that hiring a Boise State OC to run Muschamp’s offense is like hiring Mario Andretti to drive your riding lawnmower.

  4. gatorboi352 says:

    I think it’s time for change alright. And it’s much bigger than our current offensive line play.

  5. Terri says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your articles, Shannon; thank you. Are you in contact with any of the current players? Two years ago I sat at a table with Michael Taylor; Ronald Powell and others. At the time, they were thrilled with the coaching changes and loved Muschamp. I wonder what they currently think.

    I think Muschamp is smart enough to make the changes necessary. I don’t want to see another turnover but this must be fixed.

    • Michael Jones says:

      I’m with you, Terri, and I hope you’re right. I actually REALLY LIKE Will Muschamp. I like him as a man. I like him as a representative of our university. I like the way he seems to a dad-away-from-home to our young athletes. So, being a Gator and liking Muschamp, I’m obviously really pulling for him.

      If Pease is not the guy, then I would think that we’d have to go no further than in-house to Joker Phillips to find an OC who can get the job done. But, I tell you, in its current state, no stud WR talent would ever want to come to play for an offense like ours. It’s embarrassingly primitive. I just hope that we can keep the talent that we have at the skill positions after this season and start focusing on getting some 5 and 4 start OL in here. I hope like heck that Will Grier will continue to want to be a Gator.

      • Terri says:

        I good be wrong but I”m not sold on Joker. Two weeks in a row, WR have run wrong routes. Great fresh WR should be further along at this point in the season — other team’s fresh WR’s are. Maybe it’s not Joker’s fault but I haven’t been happy w/ WR development and routes since Dwayne Dixon left. Maybe Joker for OC and BRING BACK DIXON!

  6. aziatic41 says:

    SC beat Mizzou today so that mathematically puts us back in the SEC East race. Fact is it is a very slim chance we’ll beat SC at their place. If we lose to both UGA and SC then Muschamp should be fired. Plain and simple. I’m tired of people making excuses about our o-line, etc. We are not the only team with injuries. At a place like UF we should be able to win regardless of injuries. Or at least compete. Our last 2 losses have been horrible coaching. Just horrible..

    • Gatorgrad79 says:

      41, if by ‘mathematically’ you mean abstractly as opposed to reality…..otherwise I want some of that kool-aid you been drinkin’!

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