Graham Mertz? Defense? Tight End? Nope, Florida football's top issue is this
Gainesville Sun The last time Florida football fans got a good look at the Gators’ offense, they came away feeling queasy at best. It was the spring game, which featured about as many bad snaps as completed passes. That led to a final score of 10-7 and a summer of indigestion whenever the topic of scoring points came up.
Fans got their first good look since then on Saturday. It was a rare open practice where fans, media and maybe a Utah spy wearing a Tebow jersey were allowed to watch two-plus hours of football sausage being made. With that in mind, I conducted a decidedly non-scientific survey midway through the festivities.
What is your biggest worry? “The defense. Will it be any better?” one fan said. Tight end,” said another.
“The quarterback room,” another fan said. “I don’t know about Mertz. ” No.
1 in your program:Princely Umanmielen out to prove why he deserves No. 1 Glimpse at the Gators:WR Ricky Pearsall, CB Devin Moore out and other takeaways from UF open football practice “That my only choices for president will be Biden or Trump,” said another. Okay, I made that last one up in hopes of amusing you enough to continue reading.
Because you know what Gator fans should be most worried about? The offensive line. Zzzzzzzz. Nothing makes readers skip to the fishing report quicker than a story about offensive lines, which is unfair in many ways.
Offensive linemen are some of the smartest, largest and hardest-working players on any football team. But trench warfare doesn’t exactly match the thrill of watching Trevor Etienne running through the secondary. And you inevitably have to use a cliché like “It all starts up front.
” He speaks:Former Florida QB Jalen Kitna breaks silence after being cleared of child porn charges Fall preperations:LB Shemar James out and other takeaways from Florida football practice. So, at the risk of having you jump to NHL free agency news, here is the latest intel on Florida’s offensive line: It’s looking much better than it did the last time fans filed into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for a preview. Of course, you can’t really tell anything from watching 2½-hours of drills.
But at least the centers didn’t have a completion ratio of about 69. 8% to the quarterbacks. That’s largely because Kingsley Eguakun was back at center.
He missed the spring game with an injury, and the fill-ins were young and overwhelmed. Eguakun is expected to be a rock at center, much as he was last season when the offensive line was by far Florida’s best unit. Sophomore left tackle Austin Barber looks like a future pro.
But the offensive line lost four starters from last year, including All-American O’Cyrus Torrence. That doesn’t mean this year’s line will be a problem. It could turn out to be pretty good, though that’s based more on speculation and hope than hard data.
Junior guard Richie Leonard has started two games in two years. Transfers Dameion George Jr. from Alabama and Micah Mazzccua from Baylor could work out fine.
If nothing else, people say entertaining things about Mazzccua. “He’s got some freakin’ dog in him,” offensive line coach Rob Sale said. “Micah just comes in the building sometimes in the morning and just looks pissed off.
” Unfortunately for UF, Mazzccua has had a hard time opening the building door the past few months. He needed shoulder surgery after spring practice and has seen limited action in fall camp. That’s given freshman Knijeah Harris a lot of snaps.
He looks promising, as does freshman Roderick Kearny. He’s the guy who had so much trouble completing snaps to the quarterback in the spring game. Though it should be noted he was an early enrollee and could have still been enjoying his final few weeks of high school.
Kearny also had a broken hand, which isn’t ideal for hiking a football between your legs. The starting five could be solid, but depth will be an issue. It just won’t be as interesting to most fans as what’s happening at QB or whether the defense has figured out how to tackle.
But Florida will have a run-heavy offense. That makes sense when you have backs like Etienne and Montrell Johnson. It also makes sense when you want to keep the pressure off Mertz.
Given his roller-coaster ride at Wisconsin, UF fans have reason to be apprehensive. Tight end is indeed a concern. Running backs are not, but they can’t block for themselves.
As dull as it sounds, there is one big reason the offensive line is Florida’s biggest worry. It really does all begin up front. .