Florida without White, but Davis, Trask still confident in O-line
No. 5 Florida will be without starting offensive lineman Ethan White for the season opener Saturday at Ole Miss.
UF coach Dan Mullen said Monday that White recently had knee surgery, but he expects him to “be back shortly.” After starting at right guard as a freshman, White made the switch to center in fall training camp to take over for departing senior starter Nick Buchanan.
“We expected him to be a starter for us, either at center or guard he could start for us,” Mullen said of White. “He’s a guy playing center and guard, so what it does is it hurts the depth aspect of things.
“Now your sixth guy is coming in to play. It’s just the trickle-down effect. No. 7 now has to become No. 6, and eight becomes seven. You’re trying to find eight guys you feel really comfortable with.”
Earlier this month, running back Malik Davis said he had seen a “huge difference” in Florida’s offensive line and the unit opening bigger holes in the ground game. Davis was looking forward to seeing White in the starting lineup, but expressed confidence in his backups.
“Ethan’s a great football player,” Davis said. “We’re very excited for him to come out and have a great season. Unfortunately, he got hurt, but we have guys ready to roll right behind him.”
The Gators will now turn to redshirt senior Brett Heggie at center, with redshirt freshman Kingsley Eguakaun on the second team. Heggie started 12 games last season at left and right guard and has taken center reps throughout his college career.
The starting five will be Heggie, tackles Stone Forsythe (left) and Jean Delance (right) and guards Richard Gouraige (left) and Stewart Reese (right). UF still returns 99 starts along the O-line without White, which gives quarterback Kyle Trask faith in his front.
“I’m very confident in their level,” Trask said. “It’s one of the closest groups on the team, and I know they’re going to be dialed-in on Saturday. I think the main thing they’ve improved on is just consistency, getting that push and making a new line of scrimmage. They’ve done a great job.
“The good thing for our O-line is that they got to have a lot of experience last year, and we had a lot of young guys coming in. A lot of them got to get some playing time last year, and that’s really showing this year. I feel like there’s a good number of guys that are going to be ready to go.”