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Nov 12, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor (65) against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Gator Offensive Line Sees Vast Improvements; Has Daunting Challenge Ahead

What a difference two weeks make when it comes to the public perception of the Florida Gator offensive line. The offensive line had an inexcusable performance in the season opener against Michigan. In the opener, the unit allowed six sacks to the Wolverines. Both quarterbacks, Feleipe Franks and Malik Zaire, were throwing off their back foot for most of the game. The running game totaled 18 yards. Following the loss, the offensive line was criticized heavily from fans and media alike.

The common thought was that it’s same old, same old with the offensive line. However, when the unit took the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium against rival Tennessee, all those problems from the Michigan game seemed to be solved. The critics were silenced.

Sep 16, 2017; Gainesville, FL, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive lineman Darrell Taylor (19) rushes as Florida Gators offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor (65) blocks during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What was the difference?

Once the dust settled after an amazing finish to Saturday’s game, many Gator fans were asking questions, trying to make sense of what they just saw. This could be in part to the miraculous finish to the game. Questions were also asked about the complete 180 improvement to the offensive line.

The Gator offensive line only allowed two sacks on the afternoon. The line was also able to open holes for the Gator rushing attack, that racked up 168 yards on the ground. Sophomore right tackle Jawaan Taylor believes the difference in play between the two games was better communication and working harder at practice.

Gator O-Line Faces Tough Challenge with Kentucky

The Gator offensive line got the moral boost it needed with a strong performance against Tennessee. This Saturday, the unit hopes to repeat the same performance against Kentucky on Saturday. However, this will be a tough task for the offensive line. Kentucky’s defense, led by first year defensive coordinator Matt House, ranks third in the country defending the run. Through the first three games, the Wildcat run defense is only giving up an average of 57 yards a game and 2.19 yards per rush. Taylor believes that experience has helped Kentucky build such a strong run defense. If the Gators can run the ball effectively Saturday, Florida should be able to win their 31st straight game against Kentucky.

What’s Next?

The #20 Florida Gators put their 30 game winning streak against Kentucky on the line as they travel to The Blue Grass State to face the Wildcats. Kickoff from Lexington is set for 7:30 p.m.

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