Addazio hoping OL injuries develop depth
With so many offensive linemen missing due to injuries this spring, the Florida coaching staff is trying to look at the bright side.
It's giving a group of young players extra opportunity to grow and learn, which hopefully will pay dividends in the fall.
"One of our big goals is to establish depth up front, so that's going to come from our young players,'' UF offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Steve Addazio said. "And with the injuries those young players are getting some big-time depth.''
Both Mike and Maurkice Pouncey are out due to injuries, along with James Wilson, who was already limited with foot problems, then was injured last Saturday. Also limited are Jim Barrie and Carl Johnson. Addazio said the injuries are providing extensive playing time for some young players, but that's only beneficial if they take advantage of it.
"We've got to get better,'' he said. "We're not very good right now up front. We've got to play more consistently, we've got to stop making mental mistakes, and find a cohesive second unit that can function.''
One area of disappointment is the Gators have had eight practices without former Armwood standout Matt Patchan, who injured his leg in a scooter accident just before the start of spring practice. The staff had expected this to be a critical time for Patchan who is moving back to the OL after playing defense last season. He was expected to return to practice last week, but didn't.
"He's not able to practice right now, so I can't speak to it (what he can do) right now,'' Addazio said.
One newcomer garnering a great deal of attention is redshirt freshman Sam Robey, a 6-foot-4, 291 pound lineman from Louisville.
"Right now, he's the starting center and he's a guy that's operating with the (starters),'' Addazio said. "I'm real proud of him. He's really stepped up. He's still a young guy, but he's a guy that's showing us signs he can really give us quality depth as we progress through spring and then into the fall. But at this point right now, he's a guy that certainly is stepping up and showing that. And I see some good things out of a few of the guys who just got out of high school and are here for us. We've just got to develop them.''
Addazio said if Robey continues to develop, that may open up the possibility that Maurkice Pouncey will move to guard.
"That gives you more flexibility,''he said.