Gouraige takes “the next step” on left tackle for Florida Gators
Photo: Richard Gouraige; Credit: University of Florida Sports Association
Two years ago, Gators offensive line coach John Hevesy took on the challenge of replacing four of Florida’s five starting offensive linemen on the cusp of a new season. Whether through the draft or undrafted free agency, each of those four linemen rose to the NFL level for at least one try, and three remain on active rosters to this day.
He was safe to assume that Hevesy’s test wouldn’t be an easy feat to accomplish.
Overall, the results weren’t perfect, but Hevesy managed to pull it off. Two of the next linemen after the 2018 season, Pierre Forsythe and Brett heggie, have been so successful that they too have found homes in the NFL.
This leaves Hevesy with a similar problem he had as 2019 approached: Florida’s offensive line is again in a state of reshuffle, with the goal of replacing Forsythe and Heggie as well as improving the unit as a whole.
Redshirt second year Kingsley Eguakun emerged as a candidate for Heggie’s old post, along with junior Ethan White – UF’s current left guard – as a backup option. As for the spot of Forsythe, junior redshirt Richard Gouraige is ready to take over as Florida’s starting left tackle.
Speaking about his adjustment to his full-time position, Hevesy said Thursday that Gouraige’s transition was going “very well”, thanks to his experience in that position. Although he started at left guard in the last season and a half for the Gators, Gouraige occasionally flexed to tackle in 2019-20 as the line spun some players due to disappointing play and injuries.
“Last year, [Gouraige] played a spinning bunch just to get him out, but also preparation for him this coming year, ”Hevesy said. “Even though he’s a returning starter, going to play that position for the first time this year would have been harder on him.
“So as you saw towards the end of the season just spinning him there, playing him there really got him through spring training and camp. fall.”
Gouraige has served as a left tackle on 229 shots over the past two seasons, which lends credence to the idea that he is as equipped as anyone to take on the role in 2021.
Now is a more important time than ever, however, for Gouraige to learn and understand the intricacies of the left tackle, as he will serve as the protector of the blind side of the new starting quarterback. Emory jones. The 6-foot-5, 312-pound lineman realizes this need and has dedicated his offseason to perfecting his craft in his new position.
Gouraige studied the strip of two elite NFL left tackles daily to incorporate their technique into his game: Four-time All-Pro Tyron smith the Dallas Cowboys, and Joe thomas, who retired in 2018 after 11 years and eight All-Pro honors with the Cleveland Browns. He is also one of the last players to leave the field after training, taking more time to improve his skills.
“I just take a lot of responsibility after training and stuff like that. When I’m tired of doing extra kicks and stuff like that,” Gouraige spoke about his work ethic. “Coach [has] told me I really upped my game … in terms of kicking and stuff like that. Every day I worked on my ladder exercises and stuff like that, working on my different angles. It really showed during training. ”
Replacement Walk Ivey, Forsythe exceeded expectations as a starting left tackle from Florida and became one of the nation’s top passing protectors last year. Gouraige is determined to have a similar impact on the Gators’ offensive line as the unit undergoes significant changes once again.
“Richard, he’s kind of proud that he can do everything right,” White said, describing the lineman he’s playing next to. “I mean he can obviously block because he played guard so he’s physical. But now that he’s back in tackling I think he worked really hard to protect the passes and that it has just taken a new step.
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