An in-depth look at the offensive line so far

The Florida football team worked out in full gear and up front a veteran defensive line has ruled the landscape as expected. The speed, athleticism, and most importantly years of experience are too much for a group trying to prove themselves worthy.

Yes, class is in session for the Gators offensive line. Might these afternoon battles against perhaps the best defensive front in the nation benefit the group by helping them improve sooner rather than later?

It seems they believe so. When asked to assess his own strengths, offensive guard Jim Tartt volunteered as much saying, “And right now, I’ve got the best front four in college football lined up against me, so that’s an advantage too.”

Let’s take a look at what there is to like on the offensive front…


* Steve Rissler

* Eddie Haupt

Three year letterman Steve Rissler has played in 28 games in his Florida career. His experience is just what the Gators need at center. He has played pretty well the past two days. It would obviously be more advantageous if he had some stability at left guard, but it hasn’t worked out that way.

Rissler has not had an easy time of it in practice. Lining up against Marcus Thomas and a much improved Joe Cohen has certainly given him the competition that he needs to find out just how much work he requires at center.

Haupt has no experience other than practice experience. So it’s of little surprise that he has not been very impressive thus far in practice. He’s fully recovered from the knee injury, but it definitely put him behind. This is a very important year for Eddie Haupt. He will benefit tremendously playing behind Rissler and securing mop-up duty.


* Left Guard

o Jim Tartt

o Simon Codrington

* Right Guard

o Ronnie Wilson

o Maurice Hurt

It’s all about attitude at guard.

Consider the role of Professor Terguson in the movie “Back to School”. After blasting the question, “You remember that thing we had about thirty years ago called the Korean conflict? And how we failed to achieve victory? How come we didn’t cross the 38th parallel and push those rice-eaters back to the Great Wall of China, then take the wall apart brick by brick and nuke them back into the (expletive) stone age forever? Tell me why! How come? Say it! Say it!

Thornton Melon boisterously replied, “All right. All right. I’ll say it. ‘Cause Truman was too much of an (expletive) wimp to let MacArthur go in there and blow out those Commie bastards!”

A satisfied Terguson devilishly smiled saying, “Good answer. Good answer. I like the way you think. I’m gonna be watching you.”

Old Professor Terguson would have loved the two young men expected to occupy the guard position. Florida fans meet Jim Tartt and Ronnie Wilson. I think that you’re going to like them.

For years the Gators have been called a finesse team. Opponents and their respective fan bases have torched the Florida offensive front regardless of their ability or inability to physically dominate the game. Rarely has a Florida team been given credit for manhandling opponents- even when they actually did so. It has always irked those that occupied the trenches for the Orange and Blue. That trend is about to end.

Tartt and Wilson have little experience, but play like their full of pee and vinegar. Dominating the man on the other side is not merely good enough- punishment is what Tartt and Wilson aspire to achieve. They understand the mental dividends it will certainly pay in the second half, especially in “The Swamp” when the scorching Florida sun and the piercing sounds from the Gators faithful renders a big assist.

Tartt will not participate in drills that require him to get physical until he gets the ready sign from the Florida staff. They want to give his rehabbed shoulder the necessary time to be as close to full strength as possible.

Wilson has struggled at times against the likes of Marcus Thomas, Steven Harris, Joe Cohen, and Clint McMillan. But, he has battled and he has served notice that he plays physical. You’ll soon enjoy the physical effort employed by both of these Gators.


* Left Tackle

o Phil Trautwein

o Jason Watkins

* Right Tackle

o Drew Miller

o Carlton Medder

They don’t have the persona of the guys playing inside of them, but Drew Miller and Phil Trautwein do have a big edge in experience. Miller is Florida’s best lineman. Period. I thought so at the close of spring, and he has done nothing to change that opinion with his play in August. Miller is just about as sound providing a seam run blocking as he has been in pass protection. Playing alongside Wilson, should eventually give Florida the ability to count on a big push from the right side when necessary.

Trautwein has not been as impressive. I doubt that anybody in the Southeastern Conference is going to be very impressive when Jarvis Moss lines up across the ball. Traut has fared much better against Javier Estopinan, Darryl Gresham, and Derrick Harvey than he has against Moss. He too has had the difficulty of working with freshman Simon Codrington, instead of projected starter Jim Tartt. So, it’s been a little more difficult to get a good read on Trautwein. My best guess is that he’ll take a little time to settle in at left tackle.