Florida Gators Offensive Line – 2010 vs. 2011

One Eyed Willy and I finish up the Florida offense with the offensive line. To read past installments, click each position: quarterbacks, running backs and fullbacks, wide receivers, tight ends.

2010: Marcus Gilbert – RSR, Maurice Hurt – RSR, Carl Johnson – RSR, Mike Pouncey – SR, Matt Patchan – JR, William Steinmann – JR, James Wilson – RJR, Nick Alajajian – SO, Xavier Nixon – SO, Sam Robey – RSO, David Young – RSO, Cole Gilliam – RFR, Chaz Green – FR, Jon Halapio – RFR, Jonotthan Harrison – RFR, Kyle Koehne – RFR, Ian Silberman – FR
Preseason Rating: B
Postseason Rating: D
I’ll start this one off by saying One Eyed Willy and I don’t dislike Florida. It’s quite the opposite. We love the Gators and are as diehard as you can get. However, we’re also very realistic fans who unfortunately can come across as negative from time to time. We joke that I’m the positive side to Willy’s negative, but we can both have our moments. Keep that in mind when reading these position comparisons. We aren’t the “rah rah” types that will go blindly into the future thinking Florida can do no wrong. We love the Gators and support them until the bitter end, but we also analyze practically anything and everything and sometimes that means pointing out areas which can be (or need to be) improved. We don’t apologize for these doses of realism; we’d like you to take a look at the whole picture when discussing your team and not just the fact that you’ve been a fan as long as you can remember. That’s a prelude to saying the 2010 Florida offensive line gets a D.

Let’s start by running down the starter numbers: Mike Pouncey – 13 games, Marcus Gilbert – 13, Maurice Hurt – 11, Carl Johnson – 11, Xavier Nixon – 8, Jon Halapio – 7, Jonotthan Harrison – 1, James Wilson – 1

Look at that and things don’t seem all that bad. Four players started 11 games or more and only eight total started any games. That would make you think the Gators had a relatively stable offensive line that stayed healthy for the most part. Well, see what had happened was…
First off, Matt Patchan didn’t play and Wilson only appeared in two games. The move to center by Pouncey was a disaster at times and only average at others. Hurt and Halapio were inconsistent and the line as a whole struggled to find balance. This is yet another position that can blame its performance on a number of things. From injuries to inconsistent play to schemes, nothing seemed to, for lack of a better term, click. While John Brantley wasn’t the quarterback we all hoped he’d be during his first year as the Gators’ starter, he was given very little time to even think in many situations. The offensive line didn’t give up some jaw dropping number of sacks – 27 total on the season (and four of those came in a game in which Florida beat Vanderbilt by 41 points) – but also didn’t provide a secure pocket for the quarterbacks to work out of.
It was a rough season for the line and one that hardly got better as it progressed. 2011 needs to be a turning point for the unit or the offense may struggle to get started early in games.
2011: William Steinmann – SR, James Wilson – RSR, Dan Wenger – RSR, Xavier Nixon – JR, Matt Patchan – RJR, Sam Robey – RJR, David Young – RJR, Nick Alajajian – RSO, Cole Gilliam – RSO, Jon Halapio – RSO, Jonotthan Harrison – RSO, Kyle Koehne – RSO, Ian Silberman – SO, Chaz Green – RFR, Tommy Jordan – FR, Trip Thurman – FR
Preseason Rating: C
I hate giving a unit a C. I really do. I debated this unit for quite some time. Should I give the 2010 version a D? Should I give the 2011 one the same grade? It would have been extremely easy to give 2011 a B instead of C, but I had to go with my gut on this one.
The 2011 offensive line has potential, but must stay healthy and consistent. Yes, they get a C, but if they finished 2010 with a D, lost the only players that started more than eight games, and added nothing more than a transfer and two freshmen that are very likely to redshirt, giving them another D would have been reasonable as well. However, because of that potential, they’re bumped a grade.
There are a few keys to the line and since we like to make lists around here, I’ll go ahead and make another one:
• The returning players started a total of 17 games in 2010. That isn’t a lot. Not a lot by any means. The unit has to get through its growing pains quickly. Quickly as in the first two games of the season.
• Patchan can be great. He’s a lineman with a mean streak. Unfortunately, he just can’t stay healthy. If Patchan can stay on the field for an entire season guess is there’s one spot we don’t have to worry about.
• This is the last hurrah for Wilson. This is it. He has one last chance to prove he’s the player many thought he could be. This is it. Put up time.
Chaz Green has been said to be an absolute warrior. We’ll see him on the field for the first time this season and we may see him a lot. He could steal a position and not let it go for a few years.
• IS THERE A CENTER?!? Harrison was moved to the position and Dan Wenger transferred in. Why? Because the position is wide open and the main reason is because Sam Robey hasn’t claimed it as his own. Two years ago we heard of the possibility of the Pounceys both playing guard because of this young lineman who was doing so well in practice that he could bounce a potential All-American from the position. Today, the Pounceys are gone and Robey still hasn’t been named the starter. This will be his fourth season with the team. He’s not in the same territory as Wilson, but he’s getting dangerously close.
The line plays an unbelievably important role in the offense and is the key to allowing plays to develop. In 2010, it didn’t come together as expected despite having four seniors across it. This season, the seniors on the roster are a question mark and that will make you lose some sleep. What Charlie Weis and Frank Verducci do with the line could be one of the most important things to follow during the offseason. It won’t take us very long to see how it all went and how it will all go. This is the definitive “keep your fingers crossed” unit.

One Eyed Observations: Florida Gators in the NFL Draft

One Eyed Willy answers questions regarding the biggest Florida happenings of the moment. This week’s edition is shorter than usual, but we have to give it up to Willy who did this from his phone while on vacation.

The Bull Gator: Which drafted Gator will have the best career?
One Eyed Willy: I think one would believe that even with all his troubles for the Gators in 2010, Mike Pouncey (or Pouncey #2 as I affectionately refer to him as) will have the best pro career. Especially if the Miami Dolphins move him back to guard, which I expect they would do. You don’t pick a center that high in the draft! And Pouncey #2 was a stud guard his first few years at UF so I think he will revert back to those days and try to forget about his “career” as a center.
TBG: Which one will fans be pulling for?
OEW: True Gator fans should be pulling for all four guys no matter what they did on and off the field, but the easy fan favorite of the bunch is Ahmad Black. Don’t need to delve into the history of Black at UF, but he was definitely the most likeable guy on the team these last two years and became not only a favorite during that time period, but maybe an all-time fan favorite. Given his size, I am still not sure that he can be an every down safety in the league, but he certainly has the heart and brains to do so. I often say that if we had 22 guys starting for us with the heart of Ahmad Black, we would be unbeatable!
TBG: Who has the toughest uphill battle?
OEW: Even though he was taken prior to Maurice Hurt, I think Black may have the toughest time making it in the league. Unfortunately you can’t teach size or speed and Black is lacking in both categories. That and I think Hurt is better than a 7th round pick but fell due to his love of the herb. To be honest, I did not research who will be on the roster ahead of these guys so this is just a guess based on the talent they each have shown at UF.
TBG: Of those not drafted, who has the best shot at making the NFL?
OEW: Two words……Chas Henry! Sorry Duke Lemmens.

(Photo: University of Florida)

Maurice Hurt Goes #217 Overall to the Washington Redskins

In the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins made offensive lineman Maurice Hurt the fourth player from Florida to be drafted.

Hurt is a bit of an enigma.  He’s a player that had his ups and downs throughout his Florida career and also has the red flag of failing a drug test at the NFL Combine.  While failing a drug test for marijuana use may not seem like that much of a problem to many of you out there, it’s hard to imagine how this happens to players who know they’re preparing for the biggest moment of their lives (yes, even Percy Harvin).  Because of the failed test, Hurt may have fallen further than initially projected, but I believe this is probably right where he should have ended up.
As a Gator, Hurt was an inconsistent talent who would go from solid to shaky it seemed at times almost from play to play.  He has the size to play in the NFL, but it remains to be seen if he has the overall ability.  Hurt, at his best can provide depth for the Redskins and possibly develop into an average offensive lineman, but he’ll have an uphill battle early on.

(Photo: University of Florida)

More Fun with the Florida Gator Roster

After going through the photos, it’s time for the bios. The Florida roster is full of nuggets of information you need to know and more you probably have no desire to find out. Below are some of the better bio entries from players on this season’s roster. Sometimes I wish the players were allowed to write more themselves instead of just contributing the occasional bit. If that were the case, the number of hits Matt Patchan’s bio would get would probably destroy the GatorZone servers.

Markihe Anderson“Nicknamed ‘Number 1 Stunna’ by friends and teammates, representing his jersey number (1) in high school.” – ‘Number 14 Stunna’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Brandon Antwine – “Chose Florida because he ‘has Gator in his blood.’” – You might want to get a doctor to check that out.

John Crofoot“Three older brothers also were long snappers in the SEC, Chas and Clay at Auburn, and Ike at South Carolina.” – As I’m sure I’ve said before, you can’t learn how to be a long snapper. It’s in your DNA!

Jermaine Cunningham“Prep All-American Sandwich Tosser.” – Okay, okay. It doesn’t really say that.

Jeffery Demps“Son of Jeffrey and Marilyn Demps.” – Jeffery? Jeffrey? The placement of the “r” is crucial.

Carlos Dunlap“Also returned kicks for his team.” – You couldn’t make me want to attempt to bring down Dunlap on a kick return.

Cole Gilliam“Had shoulder surgery following his senior season in high school.” – Really? There was nothing better than this to write about Gilliam?

Marquis Hannah“CAREER: Tore his ACL and missed the 2008 season. 2008: Suffered a torn ACL and missed the entire 2008 campaign.” – Quick, how many other ways can it be written?

Cade Holliday“Chose Florida for…the chance to compete for a national title in football.” – I’d say that turned out alright.

Omar Hunter“Born Omar Divine Hunter.” – Yet another reason to love Omar. Divine.

Maurice Hurt“Nicknamed ‘The Big Hurt’ by friends and teammates.” – I would hope it was by his friends and teammates. If you give yourself a nickname, you deserve to be shot. Unless of course you start a blog and come up with some clever…oh never mind.

Jelani Jenkins“His parents devised a three-page matrix of their son’s college choices, breaking down schools by such categories as world academic ranking, graduation rates, diversity and number of NFL draft picks in the past five years.” – Admit it. You want to see this matrix.

Carl Johnson“Nicknamed ‘Pancake Man’ by his high school teammates and coaches.” – Is there a better nickname than ‘Pancake Man?’ I personally prefer waffles, but wouldn’t tell Johnson that to his face.

Lawrence Marsh“Wore number 80 in high school.” – And yet he wasn’t nicknamed ‘Number 80 Stunna.’

Lerentee McCray“Born Lerentee Zavonne McCray.” – A close second to Hunter for best middle name on the team.

Emmanuel Moody“Played Pee-Wee football with former Florida running back Kestahn Moore in Dallas.” – Well I got dunked on by Darrell Jackson…twice. So there!

Christopher Scott“Always wanted to be a Gator.” – Good enough for me.

Tim Tebow – Only brought up to emphasize the extreme massiveness of #15’s bio.