How will the offensive line shape up?
The Gators had a very successful year protecting the quarterback with the Gators ranking 21st in the nation only surrendering 18 sacks in 13 games. Rushing offense is also a good indicator of a good offensive line and Florida ranked 4th in the SEC in rushing offense with over 213 yards per game.
The Gators lose four starters on the offensive line this year, and therefore they lose production.
Projected first-round pick RT Jawaan Taylor is off to the draft after a dominant season. Senior LT Martez Ivey, RG Fred Johnson, and LG Tyler Jordan will all test the draft waters along with Taylor.
Nick Buchanan is the only returning starter on the roster after starting 12 games at center. In the mix for starting spots are guards Brett Heggie, Chris Bleich, and Griffin Mcdowell as well as tackles Noah Banks, Richard Gouraige, and Stone Forsythe.
Most Gator fans know that redshirt sophomore Brett Heggie has tremendous upside when healthy. A healthy Heggie is a force to behold with almost weekly pancake blocks on defenses. The key phrase is “when healthy.”
Heggie has battled injuries throughout his entire Gator career with knee and hand injuries limiting his play. However, he played in 9 of 14 games in 2018. He will need to remain healthy in 2019 for the Gators to have consistent offensive line play.
Richard Gouraige is another interesting prospect. He came into the program as one of the most highly rated offensive linemen on the roster and was listed as the 7th best OT in the class of 2018 by the 247Sports composite.
The redshirt freshman came into Florida undersized but has put on weight and looks to compete for playing time this fall.
I expect the line to end up with Buchanan at center, Heggie at right guard, Bleich at left guard, Banks at right tackle, and Gouraige at left tackle. A lot can happen in spring football. Injuries can occur, letdown players can surface, and surprise players can emerge.
Only time will tell how this Gator offensive line will emerge this spring and fall.