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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Post-spring depth chart: Offensive line

Will Friend said when he was hired in February that every offensive linemen started fresh with him, meaning a new chance for anybody who hadn’t played much, and something to prove for those who had.

By the end of spring camp, the Georgia line did indeed look almost completely different from the way it ended last season. But it ended up having as much to do with necessity as it did Friend’s fresh impressions.

Who ends up where on the line remains a mish-mash of possibilities after a few weeks of shifting players around, and one major injury. A few incoming freshman could end up factoring in, but not as much as on other units.

Here’s a position-by-position look at the line after the spring - with "top starter" in many cases being really, really tentative - along with the chances it looks like this for the Boise State game:

Cordy Glenn (Sr.)
Top backup: Brent Benedict (R-Fr.)
Also: A.J. Harmon (Jr.), Kolton Houston (R-Fr.), Austin Long (R-Soph.), Hugh Williams (walk-on, R-Fr.)

CHANCES IT STAYS: 90 percent. … Glenn was working at both tackle spots with Trinton Sturdivant before the latter’s injury. Now Glenn is set at the position, for better or worse – and given his skill experience, it’s probably for the better. The backup spot is in more turmoil. Friend wasn’t able to give a lot of guys reps at the left tackle spot until late in the spring and Williams ended up starting for one team on G-Day. Ideally the coaches want one guy to emerge as the third tackle and be the main backup at both spots – but first they have to settle on the right tackle starter.

LOOMING: Zach DeBell and Watts Dantzler have the size for tackle, but they’ll need to put on weight. Friend has said that he’ll play any freshmen if they show they’re ready. But the guess here is it will happen only out of necessity, at least at the tackle spots.

Kenarious Gates (Soph.)
Top backup: Houston.
Also: Dallas Lee (R-Soph.), Josh Bodin (Jr.), Benedict.

CHANCES IT STAYS: 60 percent. … Gates seems set to start somewhere, and left guard is the most likely option. But it could still be right guard or right tackle. You can’t rule out Justin Anderson or even Chris Burnette ending up here either. The backup spot is kind of a muddle – just like every backup role on the line. Lee had a lost spring because of injury. Benedict and Houston were working at guard and tackle.

LOOMING: Hunter Long, the brother of Austin, wouldn’t seem likely to be pressed into duty right away. But if the coaches aren’t in love with any of their options, he could be. Who knew Gates would end up starting last year?

Ben Jones (Sr.)
Top backup: Ben Reynolds (R-Soph.)
Also: Chris Burnette (R-Soph.)

CHANCES IT STAYS: 90 percent … Jones is the unofficial captain of the line, and one of the leaders of the entire offense. The 10 percent is for the backup spot, because Burnette would be the first option if he doesn’t win the right guard spot. A freshman could also factor in the situation.

LOOMING: David Andrews isn’t the most celebrated offensive line recruit, but he may have the best chance to play right away. If Chris Burnette (the former backup center) wins the right guard spot, and Andrews outplays Reynolds, then Andrews could see some time.

Chris Burnette (R-Soph.)
Top backup: Houston, Benedict, Lee.
Also: Justin Anderson (Sr.), Gates.

CHANCES IT STAYS: 30 percent. … Burnette had a good spring, but his position is still tenuous and he’ll have to earn the starter position in August. Justin Anderson is at least a 50-50 shot to end up at guard, and Gates could still end up on the right side. The backup spot is similar to tackle: The coaches would like to find a top backup for both guard spots, but first need to settle on who starts where.

LOOMING: Hunter Long, and possibly Andrews.

Justin Anderson (Sr.)
Top backup: A.J. Harmon (Jr.)
Also: Austin Long, Benedict, Houston, Williams.

CHANCES IT STAYS: 40 percent. … Anderson isn’t even assured of ending up at right tackle, but that’s the plan for now. You can’t rule out Gates being shifted to right tackle either. The backup spot is intertwined with the left tackle position; the team is looking for one player to show he can be the main backup at both spots.

LOOMING: See left tackle.


Suomynona said...

Our OL should be better and their past failure puzzling at best. Coaching will be key in developing a competent line.

While injuries have hurt I believe we have had the talent to play in the upper level of the SEC but coaching and apparently S&C have held us back.

TrboDawg said...

Thanks for the write up Seth. As it always does, O-line play will determine how the season goes.

Given our penchant for injuries along the offensive line, I was very pleased with the way the teams were chosen for the G-day game. It allowed Murray to get quality time with the back up center, and gave the coaches the opportunity to see how guys looked playing in different combinations work together in 'game' situations.

Anonymous said...

O-Line gave up 27 sacks and averaged 10th in rushing in the SEC.

Get worse every year since Bobo's come on board.

godawgs said...

anon, please use some sort of name to identify yourself.

Seth, please delete all anonyomous comments to encourage use of identifying names

meansonny said...

@anon 12:44,
Are you upset about Bobo or the offensive line coach and running coordinator.

On a separate note, freshmen starting quarterbacks should be expected to get sacked more (regardless of the offensive line). One could also argue that it would be tougher to run the ball when the defense is preparing for a freshman QB.