Where’s Ben?

Ben Cleveland got the start at right guard yesterday and played credibly, which, judging from some of the comments I’ve seen sprinkled on the Intertubes calling him a bust for not immediately starting last season, was quite the surprise.  For those folks, who evidently struggle with the concept that most offensive linemen need some developmental time before being ready to be thrown into the SEC wars, let Ben himself explain how that works.

Cleveland, a four-star recruit from Stephens County, was Georgia’s highest-ranked offensive lineman in the 2016 class, but took a redshirt he said he needed.

“I think redshirting is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said. “It gave me just that one year to develop and practice my craft. I have zero complaints with it.”

Cleveland said he needed to work on his technique, flexibility and strength.

“I wasn’t physically developed enough to play at this level,” he said.

Good advice for anyone ready to write Isaiah Wilson off.  Patience, grasshoppers.

27 Comments

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27 responses to “Where’s Ben?

  1. PTC DAWG

    He’s only 19…

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  2. Dolly Llama

    I’m from Stephens County and know some people there who know the family. Some of those people have said some mean things behind the family’s back as to why he hasn’t played, allegedly. I’ll not repeat them because I don’t have a clue what the real situation is.

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  3. DoubleDawg1318

    I saw Isaiah Wilson with his teammates in the waning moments of the post game celebration and when I say the man is large…it just doesn’t do justice to the size of that guy. He makes other linemen look like Wynn look small. If we form a line of roadgraders with him, Cleveland, etc. it’s going to be a really scary unit.

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  4. CB

    He’s a hoss who dominated in HS despite high pad level, and zero flexibility. I wonder if Kirby put him in Yoga.

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  5. Derek

    I tried to watch Ben since he was getting the start. He’s ok but I’m not sure he’s a real upgrade from Solomon. Kindley probably needed the kick in ass from the coaches, in addition to the one Derrick Brown gave him, and Ben needed the reps, but IMHO we’re only really solid at two OL positions: center and LT.

    I’m very concerned that we’re a couple of OL away from winning on 12/2. I think we’re going to need a monumental defensive and ST’s performance to get that trophy. I thought after the UF game that we were there.

    If they can keep it close early and rotate Sims/Baker and Cleveland/Kindley and 71 can play big and Wynn’s shoulder holds up, maybe there’s hope that the running game breaks free in the second half. I’ve lost any hope that we can throw our way to victory in that game. I don’t think we can even be 50/50.

    Maybe they’ve got some plan for the TE’s that they’ve kept under wraps like Alabama did with OJ Howard? I hope so. We’ll probably need it.

    Btw: was it me or was JR Reed not playing at all??

    Liked by 1 person

    • 92 grad

      I completely agree with you. I’m looking forward to the next two games but I’m done thinking we could beat Alabama or auburn in a winner take all game. It is college football though so let them play and see what happens.

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  6. Macallanlover

    Really happy for Big Ben, he has worked hard and the patience the staff showed has allowed him to progress to the point he looks to be a contributor for 2-3 more seasons. He was huge, but not developed when he hit campus. He was soft compared to 22 year old men who had been a strength and nutrition program for multiple years, not to mention his technique and footwork were far behind.

    This isn’t an athlete who had played a OL at a high level in 6-A football (think Eason) for 3-4 years. Many got blinded by the silly 5 star rating that projects potential and not current development, and felt he was behind planned progress. He is still young, and should be ready to improve a similar amount before next fall. Thought he handled yesterday’s increased playing time well, and will help shore up the weakness we have had at Guard the next few games.

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    • Derek

      Strength and nutrition aren’t his issues. He’s always been a chiseled mountain of a man. His weaknesses are athleticism and the sort of plain ass meanness you need in sec trenches. 71 didn’t have college level nutrition or strength program. What he has is athleticism and that why he’s the no. 1 RT.

      I don’t think any of us can even imagine what it takes to play 60 plus snaps against SEC defensive lineman. They are huge, mean, fast, quick, bad sob’s who are looking to cause maximum pain to whatever is in front of them. Not everyone thrives in that environment even if you look the part.

      It’s not for the slow, stiff or the faint of heart.

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      • Mayor

        Interior line play is another world and not for the faint of heart.

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        • Interior line play is something as Georgia fans we need to pay more attention to. We always have fancy skill position players, but the difference between a good and a great year is the interior line.

          “His weaknesses are athleticism and the sort of plain ass meanness you need in sec trenches.”…Derek, you see that? I just thought that Ben was a kid that needed a redshirt year to improve on technique and overall fitness (like the reason most kids are redshirted).

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  7. Pedro

    Out of curiosity I rewound or watched him on almost every play. Didn’t see him miss a block.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Mike Cooley

    He played pretty well from what I saw. As for the question about J.R. Reed, yes he did play.

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  9. Got Cowdog

    I sat behind Mom and Dad at the app st game. They seemed impatient(?) when he was only in on punts even though the second team was in.
    I was also at the Dawg walk that day. Ben Cleveland passes the eye test. I also saw him last night holding a UK player down on his back on the ground by the front of is jersey as NC 27 went by. Looming, in other words.
    Big Ben is gonna be fun to watch for a while.

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  10. 3rdandGrantham

    Just think of our line in the years to come with guys like Cleveland, Thomas, Wilson, Salyer, Mays (possibly), and others. Good gosh. We are in great shape starting next year but especially ’19 and beyond.

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  11. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Maybe I don’t pay enough attention, but I don’t think anyone has written IW off, at least not anyone realistic about playing OL in the SEC. Thomas is unusually athletic, and we are fortunate to have him, but he’s also been exposed a little through the year. At the same time he’s developing, too, and I think he will be even better next year, and may move to LT.

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  12. He’s pretty damn badass at run blocking but is still a little stiff for pass blocking. Kevin Butler said he’s worked really hard with Scott Sinclair and co to help that and he’s gotten better. They also say he needs to be meaner but he’s coming around. Andrew Thomas and Cleveland look like two really good ones for the future of this OL.

    I will say this…the OL has looked better this season but some credit is due to all those great TEs we have and the staff using them the way they have. It’s been frustrating not seeing us use them as much in the passing game but I think it’s really helped out. If nothing else, the PA is set up if we decide to go there in the future.

    Also, Nauta transferring is as much of a concern for me as Eason and certainly if Eason leaves. He’s an elite TE who isn’t getting the ball and Eason had a big part in Nauta coming here.

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    • Satowndawg

      Nauta had been completely underutilized all year and its a shame because he could be a game changer…i fear you’re right in that he may be gone after this year…his so called “effort” problem earlier in the year was related to the qb situation…hope he sticks it out but it may not matter as it doesn’t seem like this staff has much use for the TE other than for blocking purposes…wims on the other hand will be a huge loss

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  13. I think Netori could end up being pretty good, too. Certainly if Pittman and our strength and conditioning staff are as good as we think.

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  14. Gravidy

    Playing freshmen on the OL is not a good thing. When they do play, it usually is not because they are super awesome. It is usually because the competition… isn’t.

    I like Andrew Thomas, and I’m certainly glad he’s a Dawg. I think he’s done well for a freshman, and I assume he will get much better in the next 2-3 years. But I wish the talent in place when he arrived had been good enough to allow him to redshirt.

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