It’s true the Gators have lost a bunch of starters on the o-line, but David Wunderlich thinks they’ll be okay there, subject to one caveat.
Put it all together, and age is probably more important than starting experience along the offensive line. Replacing a true senior with a redshirt junior as Florida is at left tackle likely isn’t a recipe for a dramatic falloff. Stone Forsythe has had plenty of time to mature physically (losing bad weight and building muscle in his case), so the Gators aren’t rolling the dice on a younger player who may or may not be there yet. He’s also played a million snaps in practice, many of them in the past 18 months with the guys who will be starting this fall thanks to four starters leaving at once.
Obviously age doesn’t explain everything. Jean Delance is a fourth-year player starting at right tackle, and no one expects him to be as good as Jawaan Taylor was in his third year on campus in 2018.
However, the line consists mostly of upperclassmen. The top five also set itself apart early, as the current starters played most or all of spring on the top line of the depth chart. John Hevesy didn’t lose much chemistry building time in March and April trying to find his best players.
Florida’s offensive line probably will be just fine this year. It may even start ahead of where 2018’s line was thanks to the players having more time in the system. The fact that only one scholarship backup is above redshirt freshman status means it can’t afford any injuries, but the starting five may not be such a concern after all. At the very least, having a relatively low number of returning starts doesn’t mean the line is guaranteed to experience a decline in quality.
Hevesy is a good position coach and David’s point about age for offensive linemen is credible. That all being said, there’s a certain amount of hope substituted for analysis in his last sentence. You can’t expect a wholesale reshuffling of an offensive line to be seamless.
Beyond that, he’s hit on Florida’s potential Achilles heel for 2019. Between the state of the offensive line and that of the secondary, a couple of key injuries have the potential to turn the Gators’ season into a train wreck.