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Post Trying to solve the offensive line puzzle

Tuesday September 28, 2010

Paul voices one of the most troubling questions of the young 2010 season: what the heck is going on with the offensive line? We knew there would be some adjustment on defense given a new scheme and staff. We anticipated a learning curve for Murray as he gained experience. But the veteran-laden offensive line? With one of the best position coaches around?

I don’t have any answers either, but there have been a few ideas that have crossed my mind. I don’t claim any of them to be root causes, and you might even call them excuses. Here goes…

1) Depth. We have enough short-term problems to keep us occupied for a while, but I’m also a little concerned about the future of the line once the current seniors move on. Take Boling, Chris Davis, and Josh Davis off the line and look at what’s behind them. Is the next wave of linemen coming along? Other than Tanner Strickland, who’s seeing much time? All that’s to ask that if one of the starters is hobbled or under-performing, do the coaches have options? Touted young prospects Austin Long, Chris Burnette, and Brent Benedict are all in various stages of convalescence. That basically leaves A.J. Harmon and Trinton Sturdivant whose limited availability is to be expected given the long road back from multiple knee surgeries. Throw in a random bout with mono (Glenn) and a chronic battle with injuries (CDavis), and Searels has about as much to work with as he had when he started. Of course what’s there is more experienced now, but does Georgia have the personnel it needs to be the run-first offense it’s trying to be?

2) S&C. Georgia’s getting pushed around on both sides of the line. Some of the problems on defense might have to do with the fact that the linemen aren’t that big to begin with, but the entire defense got dragged around by Bo Herschel Lattimore and couldn’t stop more of the same against Mississippi State. It’s impossible that the offensive line actually got weaker during the offseason, but grumblings about the conditioning program aren’t out of the blue. If the strength program is a factor, Searels is the wrong person to be looking at.

3) The offense. Is the line catching heat for more general problems with the offense? I don’t mean that we’ve all been blind to a performance worthy of the 2008 Oklahoma line. But if you run a predictable offense into a defense that’s keying on tendencies, it’s just not going to work. The line is also just one element of pass protection or run blocking. Georgia’s offense depends on tailbacks, tight ends, and fullbacks playing a role in blocking. I can’t say that any of those units have been particularly stellar in those roles either this year, and the starting fullback has been injured.

4) Elevated expectations based on what? Our expectations for the line were more or less set by one game: Tech. Georgia then tried more of the same against TAMU and struggled until special teams bailed them out. At best, the line has been inconsistent for a couple of years. The Tech game was amazing. They were dreadful against LSU, Tennessee, and for most of the Auburn games. I grant a lot of that to the loss of Sturdivant in each of the past two seasons and the shuffling that had to go on. Did Josh Davis take a step forward at the end of last year, or was he just playing above himself for a month? We’re just relieved now that the line is no longer a bunch of freshmen with no backups. But does that make them great?

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