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?