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Thursday, July 29, 2010
Experience (and lack of) on the O-line

By Chris Low

One of the best gauges for how a team will do that season is the amount of experience it has in the offensive line.

Georgia is at the head of the class in the SEC, and it’s really not even close.

The Bulldogs return four players with more than 20 career starts on the offensive line, and their five projected starters coming out of the spring combined for 127 starts.

That’s almost 20 more starts than second-place Auburn, which has 108 career starts among its five projected starters.

Georgia’s numbers look even better when you throw junior tackle Trinton Sturdivant into the mix. He’s started 14 career games, but only one in the past two seasons because he’s battled knee injuries. Sturdivant started 13 games in 2007 as a true freshman left tackle. He hopes to return this season.

Georgia and Auburn are the only two SEC teams whose projected offensive line starters combine for 100 or more career starts.

While Georgia’s at the top with 127 starts, Tennessee’s at the bottom with only three career starts.

Auburn senior left tackle Lee Ziemba has started in every game since his freshman season in 2007 -- a streak of 38 straight games -- which is the most in the SEC for an offensive lineman.

Even though offensive line experience is important, there are exceptions. Alabama had one of the best offensive lines in the nation last season. The five guys who wound up being the starters had a combined 41 career starts entering the season. But here's the catch: Two players (left guard Mike Johnson and right tackle Drew Davis) had all 41 of those starts.

Here’s a breakdown of the entire league. Keep in mind these are only projected starters going into preseason camp and that some of these names could change:

1. Georgia: 127 (Chris Davis 37, Clint Boling 36, Ben Jones 23, Cordy Glenn 22, Josh Davis 9)

2. Auburn: 108 (Lee Ziemba 38, Ryan Pugh 31, Mike Berry 21, Byron Isom 18, Brandon Mosley 0)

3. Arkansas: 87 (DeMarcus Love 24, Wade Grayson 23, Ray Dominguez 20, Seth Oxner 13, Grant Cook 7)

4. Mississippi State: 82 (J.C. Brignone 24, Quentin Saulsberry 24, Derek Sherrod 22, Addison Lawrence 12, Tobias Smith 0)

5. Florida: 79 (Mike Pouncey 31, Carl Johnson 22, Marcus Gilbert 17, Xavier Nixon 5, James Wilson 4)

6. South Carolina: 52 (Jarriel King 19, T.J. Johnson 13, Terrence Campbell 11, Kyle Nunn 7, Garrett Chisolm 2)

7. Alabama: 42 (James Carpenter 14, Barrett Jones 14, William Vlachos 14, D.J. Fluker 0, Chance Warmack 0)

8. LSU: 41 (Joseph Barksdale 26, Josh Dworaczyk 13, Patrick Lonergan 2, Will Blackwell 0, Alex Hurst 0)

9. Kentucky: 27 (Stuart Hines 13, Brad Durham 7, Jake Lanefski 4, Billy Joe Murphy 3, Larry Warford 0)

10. Vanderbilt: 24 (Kyle Fischer 18, Joey Bailey 5, Ryan Seymour 1, Justin Cabbagestalk 0, Wesley Johnson 0)

11. Ole Miss: 22 (Bradley Sowell 12, Bobby Massie 5, Rishaw Johnson 4, Alex Washington 1, A.J. Hawkins 0)

12. Tennessee: 3 (Jarrod Shaw 3, Ja’Wuan James 0, Cody Pope 0, JerQuari Schofield 0, Dallas Thomas 0)