HOOVER,Ala- There is a lot of optimism about the Florida Gators offense heading into the upcoming season. After several years of the offense being a weakness many believe that the Gators have the experiences and pieces to put things together. The Florida offensive line is a big factor in all of the positive expectations.
Those positive expectations come after the Gators had to replace offensive line coach Mike Summers who left to take the Louisville job this winter but they replaced him with someone that McElwain called a home run hire.
That home run hire was Brad Davis who comes in with a reputation of being an energetic guy who guys like to play for. The energy part alone is something that McElwain said he was looking for and found in Davis.
“Brad is one of those guys as we were looking for that energy in that piece with that offensive line, he’s a name that kept coming up,” McElwain said after Davis was hired.
While speaking at SEC Media Days, McElwain was quick to give the offensive line credit during his time with the media in Hoover. McElwain views the offensive line group as a bright spot in the offense this upcoming season.
I’m fired up about our offensive line guys,” Coach McElwain said. “For the first time, we’re not feeling like we’re reaching and trying to get somebody to plug in there. I think that’s a group that really has come from the farthest from the first year we got here when we had four scholarship guys. I think we’ve got a really good unit. That’s going to help us a lot.”
Junior offensive lineman Martez Ivey is also excited about the steps that the offensive line has made during the off-season. Ivey says that there is a new positive energy surrounding the offensive line group.
“The offense goes as we go,” Ivey said. “It starts with us up front and we have to protect and run block well. Expectations are high this year. They know how good we can be on the offensive side of the ball. We have a new energy on the offensive line so I’m excited to see things turn around.”
New offensive line coach Brad Davis has a lot to do with the new energy in the offensive line unit. Ivey says his passion and enthusiasm has affected not only the offensive line but the entire football team.
“The way he coaches and the passion he brings is contagious. It’s contagious even to the defensive line. They see how excited he gets and that pumps them up. The defensive line wants to rip our head off because they see how pumped up Coach Davis is. He brings energy to all of our position groups.”
Ivey will not only have to adjust to a new coach but he will be moving back to a more natural position for him which is left tackle. The transition is something that Ivey is looking forward to and taking it in stride.
“The transition has been really smooth from playing guard,” Ivey said on moving to left tackle. “It is a natural position for me- that is what I played in high school. I got used to guard, when I first got there I had to sit down and watch myself a little bit. It was smooth but at times it was a little rough because I was so used to playing guard for two years. But I believe now that it is flowing pretty well.”
McElwain also made sure to point that Ivey is a team player for moving from his natural position out of high to left guard.
“Tez is a natural left tackle. That’s what he was coming out,” McElwain said. “It speaks volumes to his unselfishness that he went in there and played at guard, knowing that we needed, you know, that to happen. That first year we got there, just because through some bum luck and some things that had happened, you know, we only had four scholarship offensive linemen, so piecing a group together, which we were able to do. And in Tez’s case, I think he’ll really flourish now. He has that ability to move on the outside.