Offensive line: Continued attrition makes this position one of Georgia’s biggest liabilities

It’s July, which means we’re about one month away from the start of preseason football practices in Athens. So it’s time to start taking a closer look at Georgia’s 2011 football team. Over the next 10 days or so, I’ll be breaking down each of the Bulldogs’ position groups to give you an idea who are the projected starters and what the expectations might be for this season. Then, as always, we’ll throw it open for your commentary and analysis. There are only 64 days until Georgia’s season opener against Boise State. Time to get busy. . . .

THE OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Projected starters: LT Cordy Glenn (Sr., 6-5, 348), LG Kenarious Gates (So., 6-5, 328), C Ben Jones (Sr., 6-3, 316), RG Chris Burnette (RSo., 6-2, 313), RT Justin Anderson (Sr., 6-5, 342).
  • Others to watch: Austin Long, Kolton Houston and Dallas Lee all will be getting their first action as backups this season. Their development will be critical to establishing much-needed depth.
  • Key losses: Four-year starter Clint Boling took his talents to the NFL and would-be senior and projected starter Trinton Sturdivant was lost for a season for the third time in his career due to a knee injury this past spring.
  • Recent developments: Georgia lost two players who would have otherwise contributed this season. Junior A.J. Harmon, who was battling for the starting job at right tackle, transferred to Alabama State this past spring after running into academic problems at UGA. Redshirt freshman Brent Benedict, who was slated as a backup at right guard while recovering from a serious high school knee injury, abruptly quit the team in June for “personal reasons.” He, too, was offered an unconditional release.
  • Key fact: The offensive line will be under the direction of first-year coach Will Friend. Friend was hired on Feb. 7 to replace Stacy Searels, who bolted for the University of Texas the previous month. Friend came to Athens from UAB, where he worked under former Georgia line coach Neil Callaway. Friend served as a grad assistant under Mark Richt at Georgia in 2003-04.
  • Key fact II: This line is not as inexperienced a bunch as it may appear. The projected starters have 85 starts between them, including 70 combined by Glenn and Jones. The problem is there is zero experience among the backups and both Glenn and Anderson are relatively new to tackle having gotten most of their action at guard.
  • Key question: Will any of the incoming freshmen be asked to contribute? The Bulldogs signed five highly-touted linemen out of this high school, none of whom was initially counted on to play. Tackle Xzavier Ward is recovering from knee surgery and is a likley redshirt. But someone out of the group that includes C David Andrews, G/T Watts Dantzler, T Zach DeBell and G Hunter Long is going to have to help.
  • Outlook: Poor. If Georgia manages to negotiate the season without a starter losing significant time to an injury — a virtual impossibility — this could end up being a serviceable SEC group. More than likely the Bulldogs are going to have to coach around this position as a liability.
  • Your turn: What say you about the offensive line?

242 comments Add your comment

Gary

July 1st, 2011
6:18 am

Dawgs are just like any other college team. They deal with transfers, injuries and academics. Good coaching and keeping the offensive line fit will prevent many injuries. Teamwork, talent and coaching will make this year a success! Go dawgs!

funny

July 1st, 2011
6:19 am

Stinger2

July 1st, 2011
6:21 am

This response from a GT fan who also likes UGA. Delieve it or not.
From your report Chip, I gather that luck may be an important factor.
Bottom line: if there are no or not many serious injuries, the OL will be o.k. Is this assessment correct?

MustangDawg91

July 1st, 2011
6:26 am

Gary is right. Dawgs are just like any other team.

Gooooooooooooo DAWGS ………….

tim scott

July 1st, 2011
6:31 am

I know UGA was in on Benedicts brother has this sudden departure affected his recruitment?

Fan

July 1st, 2011
6:35 am

Searels ain’t no fool. He could see the handwriting on the wall.

old time dog

July 1st, 2011
6:45 am

tim scott….. Bank on it.

59bulldawg

July 1st, 2011
6:52 am

As a whole, we have done a poor job the last 6-7 years of judging ability, desire, and toughness of recruits at this position. We need lots more like Ben Jones and Cordy Glenn, both of whom will be playing on Sundays in the near future.

Dawgbreath

July 1st, 2011
6:58 am

Clowney, Taylor, Robinson, Ingram and Sutton on that SC team are going to wreak havoc on this line. We may okay defensively but with AJ gone and a green OL I feel we are doomed against SC in the early part of the season. Oh, well.

It Ain't Rocket Science

July 1st, 2011
6:59 am

The learning curve has definitly been speeded up for the young folks we have on the O line this year. If the WR’s and RB’s can step it up, this would help out the line a whole bunch. Less time having to hold the line of scrimmage means, less time getting your body battered, holding for a slow developing play or waiting on some WR to get open. If they can control the tempo a little, they can still be successful. Coach Firend will have to do a super job in this area. After the first two games, UGA’s schedule get a whole bunch easier, so they could still finish with a decent season.

savannadawg

July 1st, 2011
6:59 am

@ tim scott and old time dog. Why are you guys posting??? The name is Theus and his brother is still at The Bolles School in Jax. As far as our line goes. Its going to be the same BS weve seen for the last 10 years. Sometimes during the games they will make great blocks but most of the time the RB will get stuffed and the QB will be running for his life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Paddy

July 1st, 2011
7:03 am

It wasn’t long ago the starters on our O-line were considered great prospects with only playing time to make them stars. Now they are considered a serviceable group of linemen. What happened??????

JB

July 1st, 2011
7:10 am

We have a decent core but little if any depth. My hope is that Coach Friend will bring a new effort from this group we haven’t seen in a while. I to , as savannadawg said have seen way to many times when our RB’s got to the line they where just stuffed. Georgia has gotten away from the run and loves to go to the pass and it has effected our line play. We will be OK if we stay healthy, but get a couple of guys hurt, and we could struggle. I hoping the last 6-7 months under new S&C leadership will show up on the field.

G

July 1st, 2011
7:12 am

Time to start signing more linemen. Im afraid the line will be even thinner in 2012.

RomeDawg

July 1st, 2011
7:19 am

I agree with G…this year will be fine. You can’t plan on injuries, but next year that is going to be a seriously young line. It seems we go through this way to often at Jawja.

home&home

July 1st, 2011
7:21 am

Coach around the offensive line problems–in this league?? Thank God we don’t have to play LSU or Alabama and their D-lines.

O-line problems, receivers who haven’t done much and we’re depending on a freshman running back. Sure hope he can block.

legionaire

July 1st, 2011
7:30 am

Bobo has his work cut out because linebackers will be licking their chops at the average thin OL we have. Defenses will not have to worry about the running game because the only veterans are not playmakers and small. The passing game will be average.

AltamahaDawg

July 1st, 2011
7:35 am

One factor is that you CAN more easily coach, or specifically call, around a less than stellar line with a more experienced QB. This line will be no worse than the 2003 line that gave up a sack every series it seemed. Greene was more mature and could have never handled that his first year.

I can’t see them being any worse than last year. It is what t is. This is one of 3 or 4 things that were the main issues. Sounds like we haven’t fixed this one. We just cant have every one of them be a problem at that same time again.

Fortunately quite a few of our rivals have same questions at O-ine as well.

DG

July 1st, 2011
7:35 am

I really like Gates. I thought he did a good job last year as a freshman. I would like to see more out of Houston. We need to get at least 6 lineman in next couple of classes with about half from JUCO

gotta go

July 1st, 2011
7:36 am

yet another reason we don’t have the right guy managing the program…poor personnel assessments and very weak OL recruiting. Don’t give me the injury excuse. Why isn’t Alabama encountering this? Think of all the 4 and 5 star OL we have brought in….wait, there are less than 5 or 6 in the Richt era. 7 wins folks. I can’t wait to say I told you so.

mgdawg

July 1st, 2011
7:36 am

Hopefully some of the freshman will step up and provide quality back-up, although imo it is the one position where you really need to redshirt, even more then qb. A lot of these guys aren’t even taught the right blocking technique in high school, they’re taught to block like tech for a high school offense. For those saying searles saw the writing on the wall, he’s one of the main reasons there is writing on the wall. His offensive lines consistently underachieved every year, hopefully Friend has provided a new spark.

TennesseeDawg

July 1st, 2011
7:36 am

Georgia thin on the OL? What else is new? This has been a constant problem under Richt.

Hal Combo

July 1st, 2011
7:37 am

Chip, I’m going to go old school on you; hell, I’m even listening to James Brown @ the Apollo Theatre, 1962! But with a little luck, an offensive line can make it relatively intact through a season. Auburn’s 1972 team, the one Shug Jordan said was favorite, wasn’t given any respect from anyone preseason. After all, Sullivan and Beasley, Tommy Yearout, Tommy Banks, etc. were gone, but Terry Henley got three yards and a cloud of dust and AU went 10-1. The Tigers had their first team OL and that was pretty much it! If UGA’s OL can catch a break, and God knows they’re due, Georgia can have a great season.

SimpleDawg

July 1st, 2011
7:38 am

Offensive lines woes is a bad way to begin a season. If the starting group has no significant injuries that cost any of them playing time, then the Dawgs should be OK. Some of the new guys will have to be able to offer rest for the starters.

….but, all it will take is one knee rolled on in a scrum to derail a promising season.

Good luck Dawgs.

whattsamattayou

July 1st, 2011
7:39 am

UGA at it’s core is a finesse team living in a force world. Same problem Bobby Bowdon had his last several years at FSU. Will take a change of philosophy to be a consistent national (conference?) power.

AltamahaDawg

July 1st, 2011
7:44 am

When did Georgia Go away from the run, JB? They still attempted to run almost 60% of the time last year despite being pretty ineffective at it. (I thought they ran the ball too much last year) Same last year. Did they run it in 08, 07, 06, 05? What was the game or season that you determined that they had switched philosophies about attempting to run the ball in a play action offense?

Joey

July 1st, 2011
7:44 am

Ben Jones and Sturdivant both started as freshmen, so it’s not unthinkable that a couple of the rookies can at least contribute.

Atticus

July 1st, 2011
7:46 am

Can anyone tell me why the coaches didn’t go after a juco or two to play OL for two years??? It makes absoulutely no sense. These are the reasons among many that just make you scratch your head about Richt as a HC.

Atticus

July 1st, 2011
7:48 am

Joey,

Ben Jones and Sturdivant were much more highly recruited than the bunch we got in this class, especially from a physical standpoint. Contribute yes, get pushed around is the fear….

Hal Combo

July 1st, 2011
7:49 am

Whattsamattayou, you are right on the money! Richt is a surgeon, a damn good one! But you can’t operate if you are running for your life!

Fair and Balanced

July 1st, 2011
7:50 am

I thought CMR was gonna fix this? Tailback U has become Tail U of the SEC. If the offensive lineisnt fixed then nothing is fixed and Ga is gonna be in some trouble.

joe

July 1st, 2011
7:52 am

Wow, you can make statistics sound like icing on the cake. Jones and Glenn, 70 statts. That averages to 35 for those two. That leaves 15 for the other three. Five starts for the other three linemen really sounds inexperienced if you look at it that way. After that zero!!! Koolaid anyone?

Atticus

July 1st, 2011
7:53 am

Look up Ealey and King’s ypc, they are basically where Herschel’s were. If you don’t believe me, look it up. The problem is Bobo’s management and design of HOW to use the run and create mismatches and also what they do in practice. And the physical aspect has been lost as you say, no meaness or nastiness which has to come from the way they practice and strength and conditioning.

Joey

July 1st, 2011
7:57 am

Hopefully, Richt has really studied offensive football and will incorporate some different things into his basic pro-set scheme this season – misdirection, some spreading of the field, hurry up offense, etc.

I know Altamaha said rules were changed after UGA was so successful with the hurry-up when we had Greene and Shockley running it, but Oregon sure used it a lot last season.

Offensive changes or not, Bobo himself can help the OL situation by making his play-calling less predictable.

In The Trenches

July 1st, 2011
7:58 am

This is nothing new here at UGA. Next year we really need to hit the JUCO area hard for 2-3 good linemen. Nonetheless it is what it is and it ain’t what it used to be. We will find out how good Will Friend is in his Freshmen debut. Look for Zack DeBell to get plenty of OJT. Kid is up to 290 lean pounds and is very quick for an offensive lineman. Pack on 10 more pounds and I think he will be able to hold his own this year.

LakeDawg

July 1st, 2011
8:09 am

The starting OL has a chance to be pretty good, IF they start getting some decent coaching and decide to become a run first-play action pass second-kind of team. If they get the coaching they’ve been getting, then they will be mediocre. Depth is definately a problem. None of the freshmen are physically ready to contribute. BTW run first teams are not only more physical, but have less OL injuries than pass first teams. Just saying.

Top Dog

July 1st, 2011
8:13 am

Good coaching? That is a joke! There isn’t a good one there.

Atticus

July 1st, 2011
8:13 am

Joey, we heard that with Knowshon and Thomas Brown being in the same backfield…..and nothing came of it. We heard that with using Orson Charles all over the field….and nothing came of it. There is a reason no other schools come after Bobo. You see coaches like the Stoops brothers, Dan Mullen, Charlie Strong, Kirby Smart, Will Muschamp, Petrino in the past……all coordinators that were in high demand. Not Bobo. I think he is a really good bulldog and I am sure knows a lot of football but he is not an elite OC, the silence from other programs is all the proof you need.

beachdawg

July 1st, 2011
8:17 am

For goodness sake, give the guys a chance to show what they can do before you condemn them to mediocrity. Anderson, Burnette and Glenn were outstanding recruits and the other two, Jones and Gates, have shown that they can play. Who knows what the backups can do, we’ll see. Of the incoming freshmen, only Dantzler is a possible contributor. The other guys simply aren’t physically ready to play in this league. If they stay healthy, this line will be fine. Keep an eye on Anderson on running plays, the guy is a true road grader. His pass blocking is the question.

RNB

July 1st, 2011
8:18 am

Can you remember the last time the OL was not a area of concern? Poor coaching, poor evaluations period.

PMC

July 1st, 2011
8:21 am

So, Stacy Searles, came in with much furvor and expectation.

Left, without doing much, left the team in really bad shape.

Good luck with that Texas.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 1st, 2011
8:22 am

The University of Florida one year I believe started 2-3 true freshmen OL right off the bat. This is the University of Georgia. We are talking about 8 guys who have all been in this system multiple years. We are talking about our OL being young? Hell they are all young, YOUTH cannot be and excuse as 117 NCAA teams have to battle through this. Coach Friend needs to find guys who have the hunger and desire to compete at a high level. Give me guys who will compete and I dont care how old they are.

PMC

July 1st, 2011
8:23 am

Just getting off the ball well this year would help them quite a bit.

[...] Continued attrition is taking its toll on Georgia’s offensive line [...]

Central Georgia Dawg

July 1st, 2011
8:26 am

I have a sneaky feeling that this o-line will be a lot better than we think. Maybe with AJ gone, Bobo/Richt will hopefully diversify the offense. Too much doom and gloom. I also think the new S&C program will help. From what I have read, Joe T. has been really pushing them to their limits. As for the losses, let’s be real. AJ harmon wasn’t going to make a big impact. I think Benedict was still another year away. Probably wanted another year to rehab. You have to move on. Maybe a couple JUCO lineman will help the depth next year. What ever it is! WIN OR LOSE! GO DAWGS!

Rodney Dangerfield

July 1st, 2011
8:42 am

Are the bloggers on here the same ones on the Braves blogs that want to fire Fredi and Frank, release Chipper, trade JJ and Dan in spite of the Braves at 47-35, which is the 3rd best record in baseball, behind only the Phillies and Yankees, with a payroll thats 1/2 of those teams? I agree that we are thin at OL, but I don’t agree with running the coaches out of town. I mean the coaches can’t win. If they work the players hard, then they are blamed for the injurys. If they don’t, they are blamed for our team being soft. And if you think they aren’t recruiting as hard as they can for the top players available, then you are not being realistic.

"coach around" the line? hilarious

July 1st, 2011
8:51 am

we’ve been “coaching around” the line for the last oh….3 years. how’s that worked out for us?

take off your rose colored glasses cubs fans. It’s gonna be another long season of “great gameplans and poor execution”

intheknow

July 1st, 2011
8:52 am

Hey “Fan” …you say “Searles ain’t no fool.He could see the handwriting on the wall”…..what kind a coach does that make him? The O-line was his to coach and recruit. Looks like he wasn’t doing his job if the players left can’t cut it…he should have been recruiting better player’s …..I’m happy he’s gone…we need an o-line coach with a passion for the job and players who want to play hard every down.

Bring Back Wally Butts

July 1st, 2011
8:55 am

I suspect that if CMR knew that he would lose three OL that he was counting on for contributions/depth this year the recruiting effort would have allowed for more OLs (either HS or JUCO). But, who knew that 3 OL (one of which was a starter, one a serious competitor for starter, and one for back-up/contributor) would be gone before the first snap? Come on, haters, this is not the fault of the recruiting process. So what, now this is the coach’s fault? Gimme a break.

We all wish that the line was better/deeper but we got what we got and the challenge is for the coaches to make the best use of them and hope that they don’t get injured. The core group is “more than serviceable” IMO and let’s hope that the new coach can get more out of them than last year’s coach.

big john 360 lbs

July 1st, 2011
8:55 am

I’m going to say this year when we expect so little from our OL, we’re going to be pleasantly surprised. The last 2 yrs we’ve had high expectations, only to be disappointed at our ability to run block. Hopefully Coach T’s wkouts will reap benefits and our OL will be able to convert a 3rd and 1.