When the season began, the Florida Gators had a huge question mark on the offensive line and one game into the season there were still a lot of questions. However, the Gators stepped it up in game two and left tackle Phil Trautwein had a lot to do with Florida’s drastic improvement on a line that is showing positive signs of becoming a very good and productive unit.
Trautwein has graded out a champion in both games this year. To be a champion he must do his assignment on the play and be able to follow through with the block. This is his first year of starting for the Gators and the junior from Voorhees, New Jersey is happy to be protecting Chris Leak’s blind side.
“I am excited and have worked hard,” Trautwein said of playing left tackle for the number seven Gators. “I was behind Randy (Hand) and Lance (Butler) for a couple of years and I am excited just to play.”
The line has actually graded out very well for week one and week two. Trautwein, fellow tackle Carlton Medder, and center Steve Rissler were honored as champions for both contests. Trautwein says it is just a matter of knowing the system better by being in it for a second year.
“We are young, but we know this offense,” he said. “Last year Randy and them had good technique, but they just didn’t know the offense. Coach Meyer says the second year in the offense is the best for the linemen because they know everything.”
Last week was a particularly proud week for the offensive line as they opened up holes and made sure Leak’s pants were clean at the end of the night.
“I was excited when we went into the half with 400 yards,” Trautwein said. “I was excited that we protected Chris. The week before everyone was talking about how Chris got hit. That was one thing we worked on, protecting him. We worked hard trying to help Chris.”
Trautwein knows the speed of the game is about to get a lot faster playing the Tennessee Volunteers. The game is on the road and in a hostile environment. The Gators have done a lot to help get ready for the Tennessee defense and the crowd.
“Every day I go out to prepare,” he said. “I have to get used to the speed of the defensive ends. Now we are going against (Jarvis) Moss and Ray (McDonald) and we want as many reps against them this week to get ready.”
“I need to concentrate on good technique in the game. During practice I have good technique and I need to transfer it to the game. That is where the game experience comes in. I am just going to keep working and get used to the sound and the silent count.”
That silent count will be used this week to combat the noise in Neyland Stadium. With over 100,000 people screaming at the game, there is no way to hear Leak bark out a snap count. It is something the Gators did exclusively in the Central Florida game, but it is still being worked on.
“It is tough because we don’t really know when the ball is snapped, and the defensive ends have the jump on the ball,” Trautwein said. “We don’t know, so we are always a tick behind. So, we work on our technique this week.
“We came in yesterday and repped (the silent count) out. We are getting used to it. The next two days with the speakers and the sound, we just have to get used to the silent count.”
There is a lot riding on the game this week between Florida and Tennessee. If the last two games are any indication, look for the offensive line to step up and improve their play a bit. They will need to against a bigger and faster front. The Gators look to be ready for the test.