Florida offensive line coach/run-game coordinator John Hevesy along with offensive linemen Ethan White and Richard Gouraige all met with the media on Thursday afternoon.
Here are the highlights.
Assistant Coach John Hevesy
- He was asked about struggles with run blocking: They're always going to do anything to win the game. Last year they had to throw it. If they have to run the ball because they can't throw it this year, that's what it will have to be.
- The Gators’ front seven is a great test for the offensive line. Both sides are rotating guys in and out to get them time. However, Hevesy's more worried about evaluating his guys.
- Hevesy said he wants eight guys ready to go for a game then have guys at nine or 10 on the list who can move up if needed. But it all comes down to game experience. Practice is one thing but it's going to be different when you're out on the field in front of a crowd.
- He thinks Richard Gouraige is adjusting well to the left tackle spot. They tried at times to rotate him in there during games last season and that's helped him make the transition in spring and fall camps.
- Kingsley Eguakun has become a frontrunner for the starting center spot. Hevesy said he’s made a jump as an offensive lineman. He really saw some of the maturity and leadership come out over the summer.
- Hevesy isn’t sure how Eguakun's emergence affects the offensive line in terms of a domino effect with where everyone will be. He noted how last year the projected center was Ethan White and how guys were supposed to be at different spots but that didn’t end up happening.
- He mentioned how they're cross-training Joshua Braun to be a right guard/left guard and Stewart Reese as a right guard/right tackle. You don’t want to cross-train guys to where they’re learning something completely different with both positions.
- The biggest thing Hevesy's seen in Ethan White is confidence. White’s confidence was skyrocketing when he was playing at center until he got hurt. He's back to playing that way now and it helps the whole group because it spreads throughout the line from the older to the younger guys.
- One thing they look at on the offensive is having big guards especially with the defensive tackles that are in the SEC. The Gators want those big guys to set double teams on those dynamic two and two techniques.
- The only freshman or redshirt freshman Hevesy saw walk in and see time was Maurkice Pouncey who played at guard. For him, playing guys a little later is better because they've built the confidence to go out and play. If you play them too early, they can get "shell shocked" and it hurts their confidence. Players spend the first year learning, the second getting reps or time in games and then they’re expected to compete for starting spots by year three.
Offensive Guard Ethan White
- On his physique: It's just doing what Nick Savage and the strength and conditioning staff says. If they say to do something, he's going to do it because they know best. Its part of why he came to UF was to learn and be coached by those guys. It's nice to trim up and all that but it's still got to translate to the field.
- White’s moved around the offensive line but he said he's been focused more on left guard when it comes to where he's been playing recently. And it wasn’t necessarily because he’d be better at guard but more that Eguakun's a great option at center. It's about getting the best five guys out there.
- On Eguakun: He's just freaky athletic and one of the strongest guys on the team. Mentally, he's very good with calls, getting everyone on the same page, and being a leader at center.
- On Hevesy mentioning how they want to have some size on line’s interior: Being big is nice and all but all of it is chemistry, staying on levels and having proper spacing when it comes to the run game.
- White said it was rough the first few days after his injury. But after some time and speaking with teammates who had similar injuries, he really focused on rehabbing and getting back.
- His confidence level is high. Part of it are the guys he is playing next to. White is used to them and knowing where his help allows him to play faster because he's not thinking of everything around him.
- The offensive line and front seven get after it every day in practice. The offense is trying to run it against a great front seven and the defensive front is trying to stop the run against a physical group of OL. It’ll make both sides better. They take pride in being physical and thought they were last year they just didn’t need to be in certain moments.
Offensive Tackle Richard Gouraige
- “Everything’s been going good. (I’m) just trying to get better every day with the teammates, trying to build that good chemistry with everybody else. The quarterbacks have been great and the o-line’s been great. It’s been great so far,” Gouraige on his experience in camp.
- Gouraige is moving to left tackle and has been doing things to up his game outside of practice. He calls it taking accountability to put the work in after practice to work on little things. The older guys don’t look at 2021 as a ‘prove it’ year, they’re trying to increase their game.
- He’s been helping Ethan White any way he can so they both click. Gouraige said White's been working really hard. They have great chemistry and said it's great to have a friend playing beside him.
- On White's development physically: He put in so much work during the offseason. The coaches always say "It's on you" and White really trusted and bought into the system.
- Gouraige said every night he watches players like Tyron Smith and Joe Thomas to look at how they pass protect then he tries to incorporate it into his game.
- For Gouraige, bouncing all around the offensive like he has is all about challenges and trying to increase his game. The more he knows the better and he'd like to know about all five positions.
- Losing in Atlanta has left a chip on the team's shoulder. They're constantly reminded "We lost by six, we lost by six."
- He said it's really been instilled the team needs to run the ball more. So, every day they've been pounding the rock and they've had to step up as a unit with the way the offense is changing. He said it’s what they came to Florida for.