Sunday, June 12, 2011

Production replacement - offensive line

Offensive line is one of the hardest positions to discuss in terms of production. There are few numbers available that really tell the story of how good a line/linemen performs. By the eye test though I know that last years line did not get the job done. It was most obvious in the 4th quarter of close games and in short yardage situations. Like Mark Richt said when asked about not going for it on 4th and goal from the one against UCF in the bowl game. The team should have got it done on 3rd and one and it wouldn't have been an issue.

Last years team had tons of experience returning and even talked about Sturdivant being a "luxury" if he was able to play. Well he was able to play every game and the line still did not live up to expectations. A veteran line simply didn't get it done. Gates had his redshirt taken off of him and he played well the second half of the season. This year Sturdivant is out and Josh Davis and Clint Boling have graduated. That leaves only Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones as regular starters back from last year and Glenn will be moving from guard to tackle.

Ben Jones is a 4 year starter at center and that is a big help for any inexperienced line as he will be mainly responsible for any adjustment calls on the field. Glenn has the experience and build that moving to tackle shouldn't be an issue. Gates should more than hold his own as he has had a year to get bigger and stronger to go along with now having some playing experience. Justin Anderson is back on offense after spending time on the defensive line. He has experience playing and even starting on the OL but it has been awhile. If he can adjust to the move he should be ok at right tackle. Chris Burnette has played a lot of games but not a lot of snaps and not had to be counted on as a starter. His progress at right guard will go a long way to determining how good the starting line is.

The biggest problem with this years line is going to be depth. There are a lot of bodies but very little experience should one of the starters go down. Last year Gates surprised to fill in at guard despite not being offered by UGA until the last minute. Will there be one of the young guys who can step up and fill that role this year? Can Friend get more out of the line than Searels did the last few year? I believe that this years team will be improved over last years, how great of an improvement will rely heavily on how well the line performs. My projection is that I am honestly not sure. With how last years line performed I don't think it will take much to be improved but there is not really a lot for me to go on with this group.

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