Georgia’s underappreciated oasis?

Oh, Seth, you’re such a tease.

Yes, three starters departed Georgia’s offensive line after last season. And yet as preseason practice begins, there’s a sense of stability and clarity on what has been in recent years the biggest question mark on the offense.

You have a three-year starter at center. You have three other players basically guaranteed a starting spot. There is probably more depth on this year’s offensive line than there has been in years. For all the chaos of Georgia’s offseason, none of it touched the offensive line, and it’s reflected on the depth chart.

Spring practice was very productive for offensive line coach Will Friend, making it a less daunting task for this preseason. If all goes well, he can pick his starting five and top backups by mid-August and then ratchet up the planning for Clemson and South Carolina.

I can think of few better developments for Georgia’s chances this season than a stabilized offensive line.  And there’s no question the progress of Greg Pyke has been a big deal.  But, man… I watched these guys last year, you know?

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “Georgia’s underappreciated oasis?

  1. I’m going to get shouted down for this, but the offensive line last year was dr. jekyl and mr hyde, not consistently bad. A couple of times Gary was praising them effusively for their work. Theus sucked early but got better, and while I appreciate Kolton’s story, he’s not good.

    What I think this line will be is a very serviceable group that won’t overhwelm like Bama’s has, but will be pretty solid and open holes for our RBs. If Joe Cox II can trust it/get the ball out quick, we’ll be in good shape. That’s a big if.

    • You shouldn’t be shouted down for that. That’s exactly what the line was last year – inconsistent.

      The problem this year is that while Mason has plenty of time in the system, he doesn’t have plenty of game experience. He needs a comfort level from his linemen that Murray didn’t quite need last season.

      • Agree. And he’s not going to get it against really good defensive lines. I also wonder how good Mason will be at adjusting blocking schemes at the line, something which I’m sure helped Murray a lot.

        • I have a hard time seeing it, too. Which is why the Clemson game worries me. It’s been so long since we had a really good OL, maybe all the way back to 2002.

          I also wonder how good Mason will be at adjusting blocking schemes at the line, something which I’m sure helped Murray a lot.

          That, I think Mason will be able to handle. Having Andrews at center will help a lot. It’s a good point, but I think one of Mason’s strengths will be his ability to read the defense, and get us out of bad plays and into good ones.
          ~~~

          • Athens Townie

            All comments above are spot on.

            All I can say: I’ll believe we have a consistently good o-line when I see it.

      • AusDawg85

        I would suggest its not his comfort level with the line, but how he reacts when his tackles give a “look out” block…it’s going to happen. The young version of Murray tended to panic and force throws/fumbles/int’s etc. Does Mason as a 5 yr senior have the maturity to take a few lumps and protect the ball, use his head/feet to scramble effectively, or will he make “freshman” mistakes? I think/hope he’s closer to the junior year Murray than the freshman version.

        While a cupcake opener might be better, getting Clempson then a week off to review and fix any problems is probably the best formula for us to face USCe on the road in a “must win” situation so early for the SECE race.

    • the offensive line last year was dr. jekyl and mr hyde, not consistently bad. A couple of times Gary was praising them effusively for their work.

      That’s pretty typical of mediocre OL’s, which ours have been for years. They have to be at their very best to be effective against a good opponent. For example, we were mediocre, overall, (and that’s being generous, IMHO) against Clemson last year, then had a career day vs. South Carolina.

      I’m glad there’s a little optimism, but I think we’ll see what we have in the Clemson game this year. Our OL has never played well in a competitive opener since Bobo became OC. And it’s not so much that we fall short on matchups, but we just never seem to be clicking on all cylinders (though the matchups can certainly affect an OL mentally). And Clemson has, perhaps, the best DL in the nation.

      South Carolina in Columbia won’t be easy, either. But it’s the Clemson game, IMO, that will show us what we have on our offensive front.
      ~~~

      • Well we’re just arguing semantics then. Mediocre can mean inconsistent, but to me it means a line that doesn’t really every play great. Ours had moments of brilliance and some terrible head-scratchers.

        I’d take an inconsistent line over a mediocre line though.

        • I feel sure we’re seeing it the same, Spence.

          The only thing I might say is, the way I look at it, our mediocrity and our inconsistency go together, for the most part. Put another way, I don’t think we would be so inconsistent if we were not so mediocre in talent.

          When we have a good, cohesive game mentally against a top opponent, and play somewhat over our heads physically, we have a game like South Carolina last year. And I’d probably throw the LSU game in there, too. But unfortunately, those days don’t seem to come around very often.

          Most of the time, as you might expect, we end up dealing with the rest of the spectrum, where our inconsistency and mediocrity manifest themselves with OK (decent) to mediocre to near-pathetic performances. And then we can be a mixture of all those in the same game, as well as brilliant, like you said.

          But to me the biggest thing is we just always seem to be 2-3 guys short of where we need to be. Take our best 2-3 guys, and swap the other 2-3 for elite guys, and we’re in business. A lot of that inconsistency would go away, IMHO. I just don’t understand why we haven’t made that the priority it should be.

          But things are changing in recruiting, too, as we’ve been saying. And we just had good confirmation of that this past weekend. So maybe we’ve made it a priority now. Sure hope so.
          ~~~

  2. jack

    No group needs stability more than the offensive line. Let’s hope Coach Friend finds a home for each lineman and leaves position assignments in place. Then maybe the group can gel.

  3. Here’s hoping Seth is correct for his optimism. Clemson’s D-line awaits us.

  4. Beakerdawg

    Improved Secondary + Serviceable QB + Stable OL = Trip to ATL

    • Serviceable is going to mean getting the ball out quick and taking sacks against better teams and not being stupid. Some of the misconception on this blog is that our OL by being “stable” is going to play great against better DLs. It’ll play ok, but will get beat a good bit. What happens when it does will define a lot of this season. Of course, if the line and secondary don’t meet your criteria above, what Mason does won’t matter.

      Here’s to hoping Bobo and Mason can call out of some bad plays and buy enough time to get the ball downfield to MM and JSW, while #3 pounds the rock.

  5. Rp

    Damn Seth: For all the chaos of Georgia’s offseason, none of it touched the offensive line…” and ” If all goes well…”??!!

    We still have 5 weeks till kickoff. Is he really banking on quote 2 holding out and keeping quote 1 true?

  6. Skeptic Dawg

    The O-line will be the undoing of the Dawgs offense this season. Houston is not an SEC O-linemen. After 2 years, I have seen enough of Theus to know that he will struggle early and often at LT. We do not know how Pyke will turnout. Andrews is average at best. What about this group gets anyone excited? Both Clemson and USC will stack the box to stop the run and put pressure on Mason (successfully I might add). This line will prove to be the weakest we have seen in recent years. I see Mason getting sacked often and throwing a ton of picks this season due to the porous O-line.

    • Good Lord, I don’t need for the line to excite me. I just need for the line to stop upsetting me.

      And you can throw this back in my face at season’s end, but I think Theus is going to turn out to be one of the more pleasant surprises of this season.

      • Skeptic Dawg

        I once dreamed of Georgia starting 5 road graders on the O-line. Now I pray for the QB’s safety. As for Theus, I have very little to believe he is capable of playing LT. That beig said, I have been told he is the most fundamentally sound offensive linemen to come through Athens in ages. That and $2.50 will get you a Starbucks coffee. But I hope you are correct! And I am not one to say I Told You So.

  7. Lrgk9

    Based on what we have seen from Mason, his decision making and steps and release are on a par or a tad quicker than Murray. His ability to feather a screen pass is far better than Murray (this is the one thing Aaron truly sucked at) and he is taller and better able to see than Murray. What we didn’t see from Mason was the rifle throw to the sideline or the backside pass Down the field.

    Feel ok about Mason getting it out and accuracy , it’s stretching the defense vertically and horizontally I see as the problem. Betting the RBs catch a record number of swing passes and slant screens to offset over pursuit at the line. The H-Back talk pushes me to think this as well.

    For all his completions, never saw Murray hit an open Receiver in the ear hole like Mason. Believe Mason can adjust to what the defense gives him and force them to keep their ears out of pin back. Selah

  8. W Cobb Dawg

    As always, the OL will be the worse part of the O. And if the DBs and STs improve, the OL may even be the worst part of the whole team. I always hold out hope that maybe one or two of the incoming freshman will be the unusual surprise, like Sturdivant or Boling were.

    The oddest thing of all is that after a ho hum career at UGA, a surprising number of these guys go on to be steady in the nfl, like Velasco and Roland. Last but not least, we should be signing a Max Jean Gillis or Ben Cleveland every year or two, not every decade.

  9. Scorpio Jones, III

    God I hate these sucky offensive lines…if we had a good offensive line…hell just a decent offensive line, we would finish every year in the top five in offense in the SEC.

    Why can’t we do something about this?