I expect many would argue that quarterback represents the biggest crap shoot Georgia faces this offseason, but my money’s on the offensive line. I say that not only because there are no returning starters at certain spots, there is a good deal of uncertainty at some of the others and because Smart’s/Pittman’s philosophy of bigger is better on the line represents an immediate departure from what Georgia had adopted over the past couple of seasons.
It’s also because of a running sore that never seemed to heal over the past few years. Let Kolton Houston explain.
“You can never have enough bodies on the offensive line,” he said. “I think that’s what we’ve always struggled with at Georgia is our coaches never trusted more than about seven of us in a game. If they can get 10 guys that they can throw in there, that’d be pretty big.”
Keep in mind Houston was in the program for six seasons, so when he says “our coaches”, he’s covering three position coaches and two coordinators. It wasn’t just that they never were able to recruit depth, or develop it. It’s that they never trusted having depth. And now Smart and Pittman have been presented with the bill for that.
That leads to a tough call this season. There’s some real size in the ranks, but in most cases that size is very inexperienced. In a normal setting, you’d redshirt the hell out of the incoming freshman class and take your time developing the kids who redshirted last season. That’s probably not a completely realistic approach for Pittman to take, though, which means picking a few to take their lumps early on in order to build depth for future seasons.
In turn, that’s probably not the greatest news for whoever populates Georgia’s 2016 backfield, because “take their lumps” takes on an unfortunately different meaning for quarterbacks and running backs who are asked to operate behind an inconsistent offensive line. Logic would suggest that Houston is right about the way to proceed in the short term.
Despite the presence of Jacob Eason at quarterback, Houston believes Georgia will continue to be a heavily run-oriented team, thus the need for strong run-blockers. “I think (Georgia will play offense) a lot like Arkansas, and the same thing that we were with (Mike) Bobo. They’re going to run first, I would imagine.”
It’s a good thing Georgia’s deep at tight end and Chaney loves to utilize that position. You’d have to think we’ll see a heavy dose of twin TE-formation looks early on to bolster blocking on the line.
In any event, particularly since Tyler Catalina doesn’t show up until the summer, don’t expect a lot of answers here until right before the opener… and even then, those will in some cases be written in pencil.