Florida Gators offensive line getting better every game

Jim McElwain wasn’t happy sitting in the Dallas Cowboys’ media room just off the field at AT&T Stadium. His team had just lost to the Michigan Wolverines and there was a clear reason, from his vantage point as to why, and it all started up front with the offensive line.

“Well, their guys were bigger and stronger,” McElwain said after the Michigan game. “They whooped us. Plain and simple.”

Called out after the first game of the season the Florida Gators offensive line has responded. In back-to-back weeks Florida has turned to its rushing attack and leaned on the offensive line to win games. A unit that was heralded as the strength of the team throughout the offseason, then challenged after just one game has answered.

“I think we doubled our preparation in every game since then,” redshirt freshman offensive guard Brett Heggie said. “It definitely was a wake up call.”

A wake up call for sure and Heggie, who made the first start of his career that day against Michigan, has been one of the brightest spots on the line that continues making strides. Heggie was named SEC offensive lineman of the week for his play against Vanderbilt last Saturday. Heggie and the offensive line led the way for the Gators’ 218 rushing yards and five touchdowns last Saturday. Following the entire team

“The offensive line has juice,” running back Lamical Perine said. “They’ve had it the past two, three weeks. We’re feeding off those guys. Wherever they go, we go.”

The line’s progression has also helped Florida find its identity. For three years McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier have wanted to establish an identity of a team that can impose its will with a power rushing attack. Injuries and inconsistent play from the offensive line made that impossible, despite flashes of it in 2016 (vs Missouri, South Carolina and LSU). What the line has shown this year is consistent progress.

We’ve shown that the past couple weeks and we’re going to continue to get better,” Heggie said. “Again, it’s our preparation and it’s what we do off the field together and how we grow as a unit together and it’s going to show this upcoming weekend and the weeks to come.”

With LSU on the schedule this week the line will once again be counted on to spearhead the offensive attack.

Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC