Friday, July 22, 2011
Georgia's patchwork O-line taking shape
By Edward Aschoff
HOOVER, Ala. -- Entering spring practice, Georgia's offensive line seemed like one of its strengths. Now, it's an injury away from being a major weakness for the Bulldogs.
Things started with a devastating ACL injury to veteran tackle Trinton Sturdivant and have continued with attrition, as tackles A.J. Harmon and Brent Benedict left the program.
Coach Mark Richt, who has plumped down onto a hotter seat in Athens this season, isn't worried about the players who have left or the Bulldogs' diminished depth. He insists he's fine with the bodies he has up front, as long as they are healthy.
"I'm not worried about the depth if nobody gets hurt," Richt said.
But in college football -- and especially the SEC -- that could be a pretty big "if."
Across the offensive line, the Bulldogs have a few veterans wedged in. Senior Ben Jones has the potential to win the Rimington Award -- presented to the nation's best center -- while converted tackle Cordy Glenn should hold up the left side fairly well. Sophomore Kenarious Gates is solid at left guard and the Bulldogs expect big things from Justin Anderson at right tackle.
Figuring out right guard is the next step. There are players to plug in, but inexperience is an issue.
So, the Bulldogs aren't insufficient when it comes to the big uglies, but Jones agreed that health is the main priority for this group.
"We've lost guys every year and that hurts as an offense because we're so close," Jones said. "Seeing one of your brothers go down, you're like, 'Man, what if that was me?' That really hurts you as a whole offensive line."
As the offensive line stands, Jones said he's pleased with the makeup. To him, there is more talent than people think and Jones is convinced right guard won't be an issue come the fall.
"We have a great offensive line," he said. "We have a lot of players who have played a lot of snaps.
"Our right guard, it could be anybody. We have five or six guys who could play right guard. The job is up for grabs and anybody could play it."