Before we get too excited…

Chip Towers looks at the offensive line and goes full Debbie Downer on us.  A random sampling:

  • “The reality is, Georgia is unstable at tackle and therefore uncertain at guard. Some of the Bulldogs’ best guards were getting looks at tackle, the latter being a more critical position for pass protection. But each attempt to get better on the outside caused ripple effects throughout the line.

    Isaiah Wynn, the Bulldogs’ best left guard, also has proven to be their best left tackle. The same could be said of Greg Pyke and right guard and tackle.”

  • Center:  “The positive here is that Kublanow is rock solid as the starter coming out of spring practice, which wasn’t necessarily a certainty going in. The negative is that Georgia is really shaky behind him. There are plenty of good linemen to move into the position should Kublanow be needed at guard, like he was at the end of last season, or Uga forbid, have to come out of the game. But nobody else has come close to earning the coaches’ trust to make line calls and deliver on-target shotgun snaps without fail.”
  • “Meanwhile, Georgia’s two best guards overall, Wynn and Greg Pyke, were both playing tackle at the end of the spring.”

If Towers is correct about this, and I can’t really argue otherwise with him right now, then it’s hard to understate the importance of Tyler Catalina’s arrival.

The Bulldogs brought in a huge X factor at tackle when they secured the commitment of Catalina, a graduate transfer from Rhode Island. Georgia beat out the likes of Auburn and Florida for this 6-6, 235-pound FCS player who is said to be ready to step in and play in the SEC. As Smart said himself, you don’t recruit such a veteran player to “come be fourth spring.” So Catalina will figure into the competition at either left or right tackle. If Catalina can proves himself their best option at left tackle, it will allow the Bulldogs to move Wynn back to guard and possibly solve a lot of problems. If not, the shuffling may continue well into the fall.

I’m not saying Catalina’s the most crucial piece of Georgia’s puzzle to contend for the SEC East in Smart’s first season – after all, look at what Florida did last season with an even more discombobulated offensive line – but it sure would be nice if he could step in and plug a hole.  Considering the other question marks the staff faces in August, the less shuffling, the better.

16 Comments

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16 responses to “Before we get too excited…

  1. DawgPhan

    This seems like a more reasonable assessment, over Steele’s top 10 ranking.

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  2. Cojones

    The prognostication assessments made by Chip are spot on and are a reflection of his observations, not from “making it up as you go along” journalism. His , your and my observations coincide, but my added comment would be that the rest of the O-line candidates ain’t chopped liver.

    We go from year-to-year and change our minds as to needing bigger bodies to having the largest O-Line by wt of coll and pro teams and back again to the athletic model. Now we are back to the hunt for larger bodies again, except these new models have more athleticism than have past wide bodies. We have more and better subs than in previous years, so a step-up comes in the form of our newbies. It will be a great summer for assessments of differing combos to get to our starting lineup and what used to be mundane choices can now be downright exciting.

    In the middle of our excitement my caution flag goes up for declaring saviors at this early point due to our inability to recognize the snakes before they bite us. Exactly what is the injury rate to UGA O-linemen prior to start of season and what can we expect over the next two months? Let’s don’t get caught up in our early player plaudits only to never see the saviors touch the field.

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    • While Towers’ central point that the movement of Wynn and Pyke from OG to OT is suboptimal is correct. I think most of us recognize what the position changes say about the OTs we have recruited as well as the OTs we have missed on the recruiting trail. Obviously, the NFL drafts and pays the two positions differently. That said, it is not as if the distinctions between OT and OG are like interchanging an ILB for a QB. Guys move in and out on NFL rosters all the time due to smaller rosters. Certainly, as we build our program long term, Kirby is going to try to bring in more true OTs, but for a given season, a good OL can manage with the 5 best guys he has. Neither Pyke nor Wynn are ideal, but both have talent to play the position at a high level in college. Whether Catalina has enough talent to be effective in the SEC is totally unknown, but the cost to our coaching staff and program of having him is virtually nil.

      My Kool-aid is simply based on the fact that we are going from one of the worst OL coaches we have ever had to one of the most respected in the profession. When Harbaugh took over the 49ers the first year and engineered an amazing turnaround, analysis suggested that a substantial portion of the turnaround was attributable to the fact that Singletary was one of the worst coaches ever who underperformed their talent level. Their OL was loaded with highly drafted talent, which facilitated the quick turnaround. We are far from loaded along the OL, but I do believe that Pittman will have a major positive impact at getting us to perform more consistently. Second, having a QB who will make decisive throws will help as well.

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  3. rchris

    Kendall Baker has been a disappointment thus far. Catalina is key right now, but if Kendall could get it going, it would change everything.

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  4. lakedawg

    If Catalina steps in as a starter than yes the line is hurting. Kid is not a D1 SEC left tackle.

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  5. CB

    I’m assuming Catalina’s weight is a typo.

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  6. Comin' Down The Track

    Pumping the brakes in late May?! What’s the matter with you people?! We’re supposed to be bathing in Kool-Aid® right now.

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  7. 69Dawg

    Ole Kirby is taking a page right out of Vince’s playbook. Dawggrade your guys before too much hype builds up. If you listen to him and he is the only voice now, both our lines of scrimmage are not very good. Sure we have some talent but we’re too small and don’t have enough depth. God I long for Larry to be echoing the “We’re just too small and there are not enough bodies.” This is classic coach speak. We may suck but we are still a 10 win team.

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  8. W Cobb Dawg

    Since I believe Towers whines like a little girl, I’ll disagree. I look at it as having 3 starters returning: Pyke, Kublanow, Wynn, and needing 2 starters from a long list of candidates: Catalina (multi year starter at previous school), Sims (started some games last year), Baker, Allen, Gaillard, Hardin, Madden, Jurkovic. Then we’ve got 3 recruits; Cleveland (early entry), Kindley, Barnes. And finally there’s a few new PWO’s, one of whom, Fogarty, started at his previous school.

    This is college ball. Most teams need 2 or 3 new OL starters every year. UGA is no different. Kirby & Pittman will have brought in 7 OLs since taking their respective jobs. The depth is much better than it was just 6 months ago. I’m looking forward to seeing some of these big boys step up.

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    • 92 grad

      Well said. Furthermore, how dominant does the line need to be? With Chubb, Michel, Holyfield, Eason, iMac, etc…

      I’d estimate we need the line to dominate the 2nd and 4th quarters. Just execute, turn it up when needed.

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      • Bazooka Joe

        I know its 8 days since this article and posts were done (so nobody will be reading his… I tend to get to the stories a couple of days after they are posted, this time I was out of town for awhile) but that was part of CMR’s problem – no emphasis on the LOS. If you are getting hit right after getting the ball, there isn’t much you can do. Herschel Walker couldn’t run behind a crappy OLine.

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