Tape It Up: Florida: Oh Captain, No Captain

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Florida: Oh Captain, No Captain

Phil Trautwein, a senior captain who started every game for the Gators in 2006, has another stress fracture in his foot, which is nothing new for the experienced offensive lineman. What is new is the possibility that this one may take him out of the entire season. He's definitely out for this wekeend's opener against Western Kentucky and despite coach Urban Meyer's reassurances that the defending national champions have plenty of depth at O line, they have got to be feeling a certain sense of dread with one of the team's top leaders a big fat question mark for the entire 2007 season.

Trautwein moved in the spring to right tackle from the left side to protect quarterback Tim Tebow's blind side (the starting QB is left-handed). A foot injury on day three of August practice sent the senior back to the left side, where there was a little less pressure and he could nurse what he thought was a sprain, but the recurring stress fracture that has plagued Trautwein since high school reared its ugly head definitively on Wednesday, and Florida is suddenly without its most experienced lineman and a top team leader.

Trautwein has delt with at least three similar injuries to the same foot, stretching back to his high school years. The 6-foot-6, 298-pound senior is now in a cast, and is not sure how much playing time he'll miss. Depending on what the doctors announce in the coming days, Trautwein may take a medical redshirt and come back for the 2008 season. But that would mean losing a quintessential voice in the locker room, something the Gators cannot afford in a title-defense year, especially this year, when only 38 letter-winners return to Gainesville. (Florida is tied for the nation's 99th-fewest returning lettermen in the nation.)

Offensive line was the Gators' most-experienced position, up until yesterday, so Meyer is right in asserting the depth of his backups - Junior tackle Jason Watkins saw action in every game last year and will step into Trautwein's spot; senior guard Carlton Medder moves to right tackle, where he started all 14 games last season; leaving true freshman Maurkice Pouncey as the only inexperienced starter on the line. He will jump in at right guard.

Elsewhere on the team, sophomore cornerback Markihe Anderson is officially out for this weekend's game with a sprained MCL and freshman running back Bo Williams is out for six weeks with a dislocated ankle.

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