Monday, December 11, 2017
Colleges

Transfers bolster Florida Gators' depth on offensive line

GAINESVILLE — If Tyler Moore hadn't regained his desire to play football and Max Garcia hadn't decided that a change of scenery was best for him, Florida coach Will Muschamp might be a little less optimistic about his offensive line.

This was the unit so marred by injuries in the spring that the Gators altered their spring game to account for having so few offensive linemen. But an offseason of healing and improvement, and the additions of Moore and Garcia, bolstered a unit that has had its ups and downs since Muschamp arrived three years ago.

Moore, the Countryside alumnus and a transfer from Nebraska, and Garcia, a Maryland transfer, brought knowledge, veteran experience and versatility to a group that needed to replace two starters, but also returns five players who combined for 45 starts last season.

"We've got some new additions and all it can do is help us," junior Chaz Green said. "(Moore and Garcia are) great guys. They know the offense real well. They add depth to our line, that's something we can definitely use. We've got a lot of flexible guys who can play a lot of positions so it's good having guys who can step in. God forbid if we have injuries during the year, it's good to have guys who can step in."

There's a different feeling for the Gators: depth. Muschamp said when he arrived he'd like to have 15 to 17 offensive lineman on the roster. He has 15 now. And Garcia and Moore bring 16 games of starting experience in major college competition.

"We've come a long way in two years from where we were as far as our depth is concerned," Muschamp said.

Florida plans to use D.J. Humphries at left tackle, Green can play right or left and freshman Trenton Brown (6 feet 8, 361 pounds) is most comfortable at right tackle. Moore can play right tackle or move inside.

Garcia (6-4, 307) played tackle at Maryland, but is now seeing action at left and right guard. "He's a guy that gives you a lot of position multiplicity as far as the things he can do," Muschamp said. Despite sitting out last season, Garcia said he has known since shortly after arriving he made the right choice.

"It's the greatest decision of my life," Garcia said. "Aside from football, it's where I found Christ, came into my life here. Since I came here last August my life has just changed forever and it's for the better. Playing in the SEC, just this conference, how respected it is compared to the ACC, I'm just really excited about being out here with the best competition in the nation."

The Gators have high expectations for Moore too.

"The one thing we found out about Tyler, and he's very talented, is that he can play almost every position," offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "He hasn't played center for us, but we can put him wherever. … I think he's a guy that probably goes outside or we put him where we need him. He provides depth for us everywhere."

With the Gators' desire to have a power running game, and the need to protect pocket passer Jeff Driskel, Florida might finally have the depth and talent to hold its own up front against some of the nation's best defensive lines.

"It's nice to be a part of this group that we feel like has a lot of talent and can really help this team," Moore said. "It was challenging at first, but I feel like we're all comfortable with each other, we know what we need to do, we're a solid unit. I'm just going to do what I do. I don't have to prove anything. I just do my best and play really hard."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3389. Follow her on Twitter at @TBTimes_Gators.

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