Entering the season one of the strength’s of the Florida Gators football team was thought to be a revamped offensive line. It was supposed to be getting a huge upgrade in the form of two transfers, guard Max Garcia and tackle Tyler Moore. There was supposed to be some continuity with three starters returning from last season. However, that has not come to fruition, as some of the same struggles that plagued the unit last season have reared their ugly head yet again.
In Florida’s last two games, against LSU and Missouri respectively, the Gators have given up 10 total sacks. For the season, Florida has now given up 17 sacks, tied for 15th most in the entire country. For comparison, The Gators are slightly ahead of last year’s pace in which they gave up 39 sacks on the season (seventh most in the country).
One of the main culprit’s behind Florida’s struggles in pass protection is Moore. Entering the season, he was supposed to help provide depth at multiple positions along the line, but a season-ending injury to Chaz Green forced him to take on a bigger role and he has struggled thus far. His play against Missouri had Florida fans yearning for the days of former Gator Xavier Nixon, which speaks more to how bad Moore was than to how “good” Nixon ever was. Moore was abused by Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who finished the game with three sacks. At one point he was benched in favor of Garcia, who moved from his usual spot at guard to Moore’s spot at right tackle. Needless to say, Garcia did not fair much better.
Sophomore D.J. Humphries has also been a major disappointment. The former No. 1 offensive line recruit in the country was expected to have a breakout season after performing well in spot-duty as a freshman. His low point probably came against LSU when he was called for multiple false start penalties.
It is often said that the success of an offense is tied to the success of its offense line, and right now it is pretty obvious the struggles Florida is having up front are carrying over to the rest of the offense. Quarterback Tyler Murphy has spent the better part of the past two games on his back or running for his life. Furthermore, the Gators are currently 13th in the Southeastern Conference in total offense, ahead of just the lowly Kentucky Wildcats. Florida is also averaging just 21.1 points per game.
At this point, one thing has become abundantly clear, changes will need to be made along the offensive line. So the question becomes, is there anything Florida can do immediately to improve along the offensive line?
Garcia, who started 12 games at left tackle at Maryland before transferring to Florida, could see more time at tackle in place of Moore. Also, 6-foot-8, 361 pound junior college transfer Trenton Brown could see more playing time as well, especially in the run game.
Whatever adjustments may be made, it can’t get much worse than it has been the past couple of weeks.