Florida’s offensive line had plenty to do with the fact the Gators ran the most efficient offense in the country last year. Sure, they had a few rough moments along the way but for the better part of 13 games they rocked, rolled and pounded away so well that the quarterback earned the Heisman Trophy and the offense scored on half its possessions. All that was done with a line that was replacing three starters from the year before and was without its senior anchor, left tackle Phil Trautwein. Trautwein is back from the injury that kept him out in 2007 and he believes the sky is the limit for Florida’s offense.
Trautwein had a stress fracture in his foot that just wouldn’t heal so he missed all of 2007. Sitting on the sideline, unable to help his mates, Trautwein suffered. It’s tough to be a competitor and all you can do is watch when you want so badly to help.
“It was bad when we lost,” Trautwein said after his first fall practice of 2008. “I just felt hopeless that I couldn’t do anything and couldn’t help them.”
Healed after an extensive rehabilitation process, Trautwein feels he is in the best shape of his life and he believes that the 2008 season holds the promise of great things to come. He feels the time away from the game actually helped him.
“I am completely healthy and am just excited to be back with the guys,” he said. “I am running with the ones and will be a part of the team again. I am up to 315 now up from 290 last year I am a lot stronger, faster, and quicker. I just have a positive mindset and set some goals and met all my goals.”
With Trautwein coming back, the Gators also return starters Jim Tartt at left guard, fellow tackle Jason Watkins, and Maurkice Pouncey who will go from starting right guard to center. Maurkice’s brother Mike projects as the starting right guard now and to Trautwein, it looks like an imposing bunch.
”In my opinion we are the best in the nation,” Trautwein said of he and his fellow linemen, “The two Pounceys are great players. We have Jim Tartt and J-Wat who played a lot last year and have a ton of experience. We are all coming back and in my opinion we should be the best in the SEC and in the nation.”
It isn’t just experience on the field that matters. This band of brothers has been living with each other and enjoying each other’s company not only on the field where they terrorize defensive linemen, but off the field where they spend quality time having fun and getting to know each other better. They have formed a core group that will not be denied when they want something.
“We are all one,” Trautwein said. “When we go on the field we are all together. We know that the guy next to us is going to go as hard as he can. As a team we are a unit, we are close all friends. We are all out there for each other and no one can break that when we are out there.”
That sounds like the master plan for a championship.