Florida vs. Miami: Gators Confident in O-Line's Command

Allison BankoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2013

Florida's offensive line had a strong debut in Saturday's win against Toledo.
Florida's offensive line had a strong debut in Saturday's win against Toledo.Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Florida's offensive line made headlines in April for all the wrong reasons.

Only six of the Gators' 11 scholarship linemen were healthy at the time, and it was the lack of depth up front that forced Coach Will Muschamp to morph the annual spring game into the disappointing format of a spring practice. 

But after their performance in a 24-6 defeat against Toledo Saturday, it's clear that Florida's O-line is capable of controlling the clock and paving the way for an impactful backfield.

As Bleacher Report's David Kenyon previously highlighted, Florida rushed for 262 yards Saturday, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. Versus the Rockets, the guys up front contributed to an impressive total possession time of 39 minutes and 48 seconds.   

In head coach Will Muschamp's opening remarks during his press conference Monday, he highlighted the success of his men up front: 

Scrap-iron offensive linemen were Jon Harrison, Tyler Moore and Max Garcia. I thought all three of those guys played really well, really build some continuity with those guys up front. Tyler [Moore] and Max [Garcia] have been two really good additions for us.

Moore, a right tackle, and Garcia, a left guard, both transferred to Florida. Moore, a 6'5", 320-pound redshirt sophomore, started four games at left tackle for Nebraska as a freshman before transferring to St. Petersburg (Fla.) Community College in the fall of last year due to a lack of playing time. 

Garcia, a 6'4", 307-pound junior, saw plenty of playing time as a left tackle at Maryland, starting all 12 games. However, the Norcross, Ga., native opted to spend the second half of his college career playing closer to his Southern roots. 

Florida's current starting O-linemen (Moore, Garcia, Harrison, Kyle Koehne and D.J. Humphries) were all listed as healthy during April's watered-down spring game.  The increased reps these guys are proving to be of benefit to the Gators early on. 

But their first true test arrives Saturday at Miami. While Toledo's defensive line was an inexperienced crew, the Hurricanes boast "added size and depth," according to the Miami Herald's Manny Navarro

One concern for the O-line is Humphries' sprained MCL, which he injured in the fourth quarter on Saturday.. But coach Will Muschamp seems optimistic about the sophomore moving into this weekend. UF's head coach addressed his injury during Monday's press conference, saying he expected Humphries to be back at practice Tuesday in a limited role, and back in full-time role on Wednesday.