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O-line depth takes another hit

“Injuries are part of the game. One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity.”

 -- Will Muschamp. A sage. 

Gators starting right tackle Chaz Green will miss the 2013 season after tearing his labrum, Muschamp announced Monday.

The junior, who started 10 games in 2012, will undergo surgery later this week. Tyler Moore, a sophomore transfer from Nebraska, will take over in Green’s absence.

Green
(Courtesy floridatoday.com)

“Chaz was playing his best football, was playing extremely well,” Muschamp said. “Certainly had solidified himself at the right tackle spot. Very disappointing news.”

Moore trained at right tackle all spring -- Green was recovering from a persisting ankle injury -- but the redshirt sophomore worked mainly at right guard during training camp replacing injured starter Jon Halapio (torn pectoral).

Last week, offensive coordinator Brent Pease reluctantly admitted he was a tad concerned UF’s projected starting o-line hadn’t practiced together (much, if any) during camp.

Now the situation has worsened.

Florida’s offensive line depth -- quality depth -- is dwindling.

During UF Media Day several weeks ago, Muschamp stated, “I've always sat down and asked the question to our staff, ‘Who can we count on?’ It's not about who is starting. I don't worry about that. ‘Who can we count on?’ This many guys at this position, this many guys at this position. ‘Tell me who six, seven, eight and nine are.’ That's what I want to know.”

Well the line is moving, so come on down, Trenton Brown (UF's behemoth JUCO-tackle) and Trip Thurman (a redshirt sophomore guard/center).

Florida has four offensive linemen who will absolutely probably contribute consistenly in 2013: D.J. Humphries (a budding star at left tackle), Jon Harrison (one of the league's top centers) and the two transfers, Max Garcia (12 career starts at Maryland) and Moore. 

Halapio???

The senior, a preseason all-conference pick at right guard, is slated to return for the Florida-Tennessee game (Sep. 21), but who knows -- despite his pectoral purportedly healing nicely -- if he can contribute at his 2012 level?

Suddenly, 7-8-9 are creeping dangerously close to legtimate playing time. 

Enter, Kyle Koehne, Florida’s latest starting right guard. The redshirt senior is a career backup -- an adequate one at that -- with only four starts. Koehne was solid in occasional snaps last season, but the reserve (at both guard spots and center) is no longer the team's [X player needs a breather] guy. 

The season hasn’t even kicked off yet and Florida is now just a single injury away from starting either Brown (definitely not ready) or Thurman (four career appearances).

That ain’t good.

Fact: Chaz Green was bad in 2012. Some might say really bad. But in 2011, Green was a Freshman All-American and was a lone bright spot on an abominable offensive line. Green battled multiple injuries last season, but once his health improved this summer the coaching staff noticed a significant change in Green’s effort, attitude and aptitude. 

Quoth Pease: “I've seen from Chaz at this point is a guy who's competing more. He's healthier. … He's a guy that's just practicing smarter. I think he understands the protections and how he has to fit into them, the blocking schemes. He's a great athlete, and he's good at what he does, but I think his health, he had a bad ankle last year, and I think he just had to deal with that and he let some of that cause inconsistencies in his game. He stayed healthy now, and I think how he’s playing up front has been a lot better for him. He’s competing harder and he has more repetitions built up in him to be a more consistent player.”

Green's loss hurts, no matter how it's parsed. Muschamp & Co. believe the offensive line is a strength of this year's team.

Maybe it still will be. Then again...

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton 

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