Florida offensive lineman Nick Buchanan (66), offensive lineman Stone Forsythe (72) and offensive lineman Brett Heggie (61) set up for a play during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Miami Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Florida’s O-Line Still Looking to Improve Amid 3-0 Start, QB Change

Feleipe Franks‘ season-ending ankle injury won’t sit well with Florida’s offensive line. Franks loved his offensive line, and those guys loved protecting him too.

“Me and him are close, real close, we’re best friends, roommates,” junior guard Brett Heggie said. Heggie and his group were entrusted to protect Franks. His injury is by no means their fault — injuries are part of football — but it undoubtedly hurts them a bit more.

The offensive line is now tasked with protecting Franks’ successor — redshirt junior Kyle Trask. That’ll serve as part one of their two-part job. Part two entails providing more running room for an offense that’s somewhat struggled to run the football.

The Ground Game

Trask’s play will surely be under a flaming microscope from this point forward. However, Florida’s ability to gain yardage on the ground will be just as key.

Josh Hammond broke off a 76-yard touchdown run against Kentucky last weekend. Besides that big play, Florida’s combination of Lamical Perine and Dameon Pierce gained just 38 yards on 16 carries.

Florida’s offensive line will be up against a defensive front that has struggled early on. Despite a 45-0 win against Chattanooga last Saturday, they still allowed 151 rushing yards. They yielded 213 in their Week 1 loss to Georgia State.

Heggie spoke about some of the things he and his unit can already improve on.

Establishing a consistent rushing attack will take loads of pressure off Trask moving forward. Co-offensive coordinator John Hevesy also spoke about the importance of communication in the build-up to Saturday’s home game.

Hevesy believes better communication from his offensive line will allow them to improve.

Time for Trask

Dan Mullen needed to replace 4 of his 5 offensive line starters from 2018. Center Nick Buchanan was the only stalwart. Thus, the replacements, which include Heggie, Stone Forsythe and Will Harrod have actually performed admirably.

Florida has allowed just 3 sacks to their quarterbacks in three games this season. Not too shabby. Ideally, Mullen would just want his offensive front to provide Trask with a little more time to throw. Franks was often rushed and hurried into some throws this season. Trask doesn’t possess the same mobile tendencies as Franks. He will need more time to throw and go through his progressions.

Regardless of who’s under center, the Gators’ coaching staff will work tirelessly with the offensive line. In turn, the offensive line will work tirelessly for their quarterback.

Buchanan spoke about his mindset regarding who’s under center. 

Early on, the signs are promising despite the unfortunate injury Franks suffered. Florida and its offensive line will look for a 4-0 start on Saturday against Tennessee in another SEC matchup.

Kick-off is set for 12 p.m. ET.

About Edgar Chavero

Sports media and management student at the University of Florida. Content creator for ESPN 98.1 FM/ 850 AM WRUF.

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