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Theater of Operations, Florida Gators Season Review: The Offensive Line, Part One

Previous Season Review editions of Theater of Operations: Quarterbacks (parts one, two, three), running backs (parts one, two, three), tight ends (one part) and wide receivers (parts one, two).

Remember when we had confidence in the offensive line heading into the season? Yeah, I do as well. Xavier Nixon was listed on Phi Steele's preseason All-SEC (4th team) team and center Dan Wenger transferred to Florida to be closer to Charlie Weis. Wenger's transfer allowed the Gators to have some extra experience not only in just playing time, but also a familiarity with Weis' system. His transfer also provided the Gators an ability to mix and match various combinations on the offensive line if needed. Well, that all sounded good on paper, but then the injury bug hit.

Wenger missed some games, Nixon played hurt all year and as a result, the offensive line never really gelled together in a way that is needed for a football team to be successful. Quarterbacks John Brantley, Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel spent more time running for their lives than they did standing in the pocket and picking defenses apart.

Probably the best attribute this group of linemen had, was blocking down the field. Time after time, when Brantley would dump a pass off to one of the running backs, a lineman could be seen getting a key block 10-yards down the field. Same thing happened on running plays. Which was another strength (believe it or not) for the offensive line. Every time a big play happened within the running game, there was an offensive linemen getting a block on the edge. Granted it was usually after a mistake or a missed block, but hey, it could have been worse.

Play No. 1: Wenger's block on Chris Rainey's 21-yard pass reception against Tennessee:


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

When Wenger (yellow circle) first transferred to Florida, it was thought that he'd primarily play the center position. But more often than not, he ended up playing left guard. Here, he is going to block the man in front him and then peel off and head out wide.


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

As soon as he gives his man to another lineman, Wenger (yellow circle) heads off to help set up the screen pass. Rainey as you can see, is right next to him.


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

At the moment Rainey (double yellow circle) catches the ball, Wenger (single yellow circle) already has made up his mind on the defender to block (green circle).


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

Block in the back? Never! Wenger (yellow square) gets his block and Rainey (yellow circle) is free to run for the first down.

Play No. 2: Kyle Koehne's block springs Jeff Demps for a 22-yard rush against Florida Atlantic:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Koehne (yellow circle) actually takes out two blockers here directly and another one indirectly.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As Demps gets the handoff, there is block no. 1 by Koehne (yellow circle).


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Block no. 2 by Koehne (yellow square) occurs right as Demps (yellow circle) gets to the line.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As Koehne continues to block the second guy, he takes out the linebacker (yellow square) for the indirect block. Because of that block, Demps (yellow circle) is allowed to break through and get to the second level.

Play No. 3: Jon Halapio's down field block helps Chris Rainey score a touchdown against Florida Atlantic:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Halapio (yellow circle) begins this play without anyone to block. Part of that is because he is pulling to the left.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Right after Rainey makes his spin move, Halapio (yellow circle) is still free to block whoever he wants. But, he waits and heads up field to clear the way for Rainey.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Halapio gets his block at about the two-yard line (yellow square) and even though Rainey probably scores regardless, it's still great to see Halapio running 15-yards down the field still making blocks.

Play No. 4: Matt Patchan forgets to block, Driskel gets sacked:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Patchan (yellow circle) doesn't really forget to block as much as he just gets worked over by Corey Lemonier on the play. But for all intents and purposes, it's the same thing on this play.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At first, Patchan does a great job (yellow square), but unfortunately, it is short lived.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

And there it is. The moment in which Patchan (yellow square) gets burned.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Patchan (yellow circle) tries to re-group and chase Lemonier down before he can get to Driskel. But he doesn't, Driskel gets sacked, Auburn wins the game.

It's not that the offensive line played downright dreadful this year, it's just that they didn't play nearly as good as was required or that we thought they could. Maybe it was the system or just the fact that they were injured all the time. I don't know for sure. What I do know, is that next year, they'll almost all be upperclassmen and that is usually a good thing.

On a personal note, yes, it does make me sad that Brantley's name no longer auto-tags. Meaning he's officially off the roster according to SB Nation. What could have been I guess. Also, Theater of Operations has now hit 15,000+ screen captures on the year. Not really sure what that means, all I know is that per Andy's advice, I'm going to start using an external hard drive instead of multiple flash drives.