Florida Gators football: Offensive line in transition

Florida Gators

Mike Summers takes over as Florida’s new offensive line coach.

The Florida Gators hired Mike Summers as their new offensive line coach this past Monday.

Summers replaces Tim Davis, who was fired at the end of the season. Summers has 34 years of coaching experience and spent 2013 as the running game coordinator and offensive line coach at USC. The move reunites him with Florida’s wide receivers coach Joker Phillips, whom Summers worked under at Kentucky from 2010-12.

Summers will be charged with turning around a unit that has struggled in recent years. In two years under Davis, the offensive line gave up a combined 66 sacks. The running game took a step back too. After rushing for 187.7 yards per game in 2012, Florida averaged just 145.8 rushing yards per game in 2013, good for just 87th in the nation.

There will be plenty of opportunities for new starters to emerge under Summers. Florida lost Jon Harrison, Jon Halapio and Kyle Koehne to graduation and Ian Silberman to transfer. Harrison and Halapio were both longtime starters.

Despite a few heavy losses, Summers will still have plenty of talent to work with. Florida returns Trenton Brown, Tyler Moore and Max Garcia who all gained valuable starting experience in their first years on campus in 2013. Summers will also have to coach up rising-junior tackle D.J. Humphries. The once top-rated offensive tackle in the 2012 class, Humphries struggled in with inconsistent play and injuries in the 2013 season, his first as a full-time starter. Fifth-year junior Chaz Green will also return after missing all of 2013 with a torn labrum.

Summers will also have a batch of fresh, young talent with which to build his unit around. Florida currently has six offensive lineman commitments in its 2014 recruiting class, including the No. 2-rated tackle in David Sharpe. The Gators may not be done yet either, as the No. 3-rated tackle Damian Prince is set to visit campus just days before National Signing Day.

In the past, head coach Will Muschamp has had problems running full scrimmages due to a lack of depth along the offensive line. With all the new faces, that should no longer be a problem. Hopefully he’s just got the right man to develop and coach these lineman this time around.

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