- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Florida’s Allstate Sugar Bowl date with Louisville, GatorNation will review the season for a key Gators player and attempt to project what’s next. Today, we’ll look at C Jonotthan Harrison.
Role in 2012: Harrison started every game at center this season despite suffering an elbow injury against Vanderbilt. Harrison started every game at either guard or center in 2011. UF is averaging 194.5 yards per game rushing, 338.4 yards per game of total offense and has given up 36 sacks.
The good: Harrison is the definition of durability. He has started 26 consecutive games dating to the 2011 Outback Bowl against Penn State. He played the season’s final six games with a brace on his arm after suffering a sprained elbow against the Commodores. He has had very little trouble with shotgun snaps, which is something that plagued Mike Pouncey at the beginning of his first season as the starting center. Harrison is a physical player with good size (6-foot-3, 309 pounds) and is a solid run-blocker.
The bad: Harrison sometimes has trouble in pass protection. The Gators have been hurt by delayed blitzes or overloads up the middle. As the center, Harrison has the responsibility for picking up those blitzers, whether he’s free already or if he has to come off a double-team block. UF quarterbacks have been sacked 36 times this season, and while all that blame doesn’t belong to the offensive line, a good portion of it does.
Crystal ball: Harrison should return as the starter in 2013. He’s really the only experienced center on the roster, although Kyle Koehne has worked at the spot as well as guard and tackle. He’ll have to deal with a whole new left side because left guard James Wilson and left tackle Xavier Nixon graduate, but the offensive line should be better and deeper than it was this season.
2dSam Khan Jr.