Florida’s offensive line was seen as the team’s weak link entering the season.
It was justified, as the No. 11 Gators began spring practice with just seven healthy scholarship linemen. When asked about that time of uncertainty surrounding the unit, Jim McElwain didn’t want to bring back those memories.
“You really want to make me miserable,” he answered.
But McElwain isn’t as miserable when he is asked to discuss the current state of the offensive line. With the additions of Fordham transfer Mason Halter, and talented freshmen Martez Ivey, Fred Johnson and Tyler Jordan, Florida has been able to field a solid offensive line this season.
“Obviously the influx of the new guys has been fantastic,” McElwain said Monday. “I would say the biggest thing I see there is they’re starting to understand the value of communication.”
The Gators allowed just two sacks and one quarterback hurry against Ole Miss on Saturday. That’s a big improvement over the first four games, as opponents combined for eight sacks and nine quarterback hurries over that stretch.
Even more impressive is that linemen have been able to play different spots while making progress. At one point against the Rebels, senior Trip Thurman moved from guard to center and Ivey moved from tackle to guard.
“I’m honestly not surprised at all,” Halter said of the unit’s progress. “Coming in here, I knew the quality of guys we had and just the personalities we had. We meshed really well together and we’re still growing as an offensive line obviously. But I’m really proud of how we’ve been playing and it’s going to get better each week.”
SEC honors Morrison: Just nine months after suffering a serious knee injury in the Birmingham Bowl on Jan. 3, linebacker Antonio Morrison was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.
It was well-deserved, as the senior turned in his best performance of the season against Ole Miss on Saturday with 16 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss, and a 0.5 sack. Morrison has recorded a team-high 40 tackles this season.
Mauk still suspended for Gators game: Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk’s suspension will continue through Saturday’s game against Florida, according to multiple reports.
The suspension began last week against South Carolina for disciplinary reasons. Quarterback Drew Lock played well in Mauk’s place in Missouri’s 24-10 win over the Gamecocks, throwing for 136 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Mauk has struggled this season, completing 51.82 percent of his passes and throwing for six touchdowns and four interceptions in four games this season.