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UF loses second OL, Thin just got transparent?

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Already thin, Gators lose second OL in three daysAssociated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida's offensive line got a little thinner Tuesday when talented freshman Maurice Hurt had arthroscopic knee surgery.

Hurt, a 6-foot-3, 309-pound guard, sustained cartilage damage in his right knee Monday, two days after starting guard Ronnie Wilson had surgery to repair a broken left ankle.

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In year one of the Urban Meyer pontificate, the Florida Gators conquered Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State in the same season, a trifecta UF hadn't hit in the same calendar year since the near-miss 1995 season culminated in a national championship game loss to Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.

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"We went in knowing we couldn't get anybody hurt and we got a couple of guys hurt," coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday.

Hurt, who had been working with the first-team offense while starter Jim Tartt recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, could be out two weeks. Tartt returned to practice Monday and provided a brief boost to Florida's most troubled position.

But Hurt's injury was another setback for the Gators, who are trying to replace four starters along the line before the Sept. 2 season opener against Southern Mississippi.

"It will be ready," Meyer said. "I don't know who's going to be playing, but they'll be ready."

Wilson had surgery Saturday and will be sidelined two to four weeks. Backup center Eddie Haupt also has been out the last three days with a high ankle sprain. The injuries have been so numerous that freshman defensive tackle Corey Hobbs switched to offensive guard.

Without Wilson for a few games, right tackle Drew Miller has moved back to right guard -- where he started the first four games last season -- and will play alongside an inexperienced tackle.

"The technique is different, but the plays came back real quick and I feel comfortable now," Miller said.

Sophomore Jason Watkins or junior Carlton Medder -- both have played mostly on special teams and in mop-up duty -- will replace Miller at right tackle. But Watkins has missed the last two days of practice with what Meyer called "a headache." Meyer said he expected Watkins to return to practice Wednesday.

The Gators allowed 35 sacks in 12 games last season, fourth most in the Southeastern Conference. Meyer expected the line to improve in his second year despite losing starters Mike Degory, Lance Butler, Randy Hand and Tavares Washington.

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