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June 25, 2012

About the Offensive Line

Over the weekend, I had the chance to spend some time with Berniedawg, as well as hang out with a fairly large contingent of semi-knowledgeable Georgia fans. There was one thing that kept coming up we were fairly confident is going to improve: the play of the offensive line.

That is a big statement when you think about the four linemen taken in this year's draft. I do count Orson Charles in that group, as he was utilized as a blocker plenty and it serves to bolster an argument I am about to make, something I learned a long time ago was a good thing to do (insert your own rant about conference commissioners or Mike Adams here). With that, I believe our offensive line play will be better this year, which was the overwhelming consensus of those I spoke with.

The Senator hit on something this morning that I noticed a few months ago. We flat out sucked at keeping our QB (97th in sacks allowed) or anyone else with the ball (112th in tackles for losses allowed) from getting tackled behind the line of scrimmage (stats from For the record, we weren't super stars at giving running backs room to run, either. We finished 73rd in the nation with 3.95 ypr on the year. Even more telling, we only had 15 rushing TDs, putting us 90th in the country. While I am willing to concede some of the lack of rushing TDs can be laid at the feet of the play caller and the running backs, confidence in the offensive line is a key component in the play calling.

So, is my confidence misplaced? There are three reasons I don't think so:

  1. John Theus is an upgrade, even for a freshman. He comes in at 6-6 and just under 300 lbs. According to those in the know, he has room to add another 15 lbs of muscle without problem and is already extremely strong. While he'll need to improve his technique, he is ready to play. The JUCO guy, Mark Beard, will likely be in the rotation for either guard spot come fall. He can move pretty good for a big guy and is strong enough to move guys off the ball already. I feel more confident in the group this year than I did the group last year, experience notwithstanding.
  2. We have more options for the offensive coaches to work with behind the line. Much has been made of Aaron Murray's footwork. He still had a strong season. I still think he is being under utilized as a running threat. This year, we'll have to be a little less 2011 and a little more 2005, spreading the hand-offs around and counting on Murray to stay out of or get out of trouble with his legs. If...IF we get some protection, Murray has shown what he can do when he has time. If...IF we can settle on decent running options and offer some protection by handing the ball off to guys not named Crowell some, that'll open up options to keep defenses from keying on certain types of plays, something that got us in deep trouble, particularly in the SECCG and the bowl game. Obviously, I am (at least for the moment) convinced we can do that.
  3. Artie Lynch is a beast.  I told you I had a point to be made. Last year, Paul advocated moving Artie down the line to serve as another tackle in 2012. I saw his point, but didn't think that served much use in the long run. Now, he'll be at TE. While Orson wasn't a bad blocker, at all, there is a noticeable size difference in the two (3 or so inches and about 30 pounds). Artie isn't going to outrun linebackers to the sideline on quick outs, but he isn't going to have to be technically perfect to block blitzing line backers or move a DE off the ball. Plus, we do have the option of running two TE packages with Rome and Lynch, although if you weren't doing that last year or the year before, I am not sure you'd do it now.
Notice, I didn't make the 'it has to get better because it can't get worse' argument. While I do feel that way, getting better isn't the only problem. Georgia lived on the edge in both giving up field position and giving the ball to the other team when the game was on the line. We can't keep having drive killing three yard losses on second down and seven with on a quick dive. You know when we were particularly not awesome running the ball? 3rd down and long. You know who led the nation in running plays on 3rd and 10+? Georgia with 33 attempts (if you want to get mad at 'balance' look up how many times we passed the ball on 3rd and long). We have to get a lot better and have many fewer situations where the play calling gets limited by whatever it gets limited by.

To not be in 2nd and seven situations, we have to get more push and have competence in running into the line. Same goes for those 2nd and 7 situations where Bobo is digging into his bag of trick and pulling out a quick dive, 'cause you, I, and opposing defenses know we we are going to run it.



Kevin said...

Any offensive line without Justin Anderson as a tackle should be a better offensive line.

Anonymous said...

Bean could run block.

Anonymous said...

I think point #3 is the strongest argument you make. Theus could pan out, but it's a lot to ask of a true freshman to play LT or even RT, but to be an improvement probably will be too tall of an order (at least for the first half of the season).

One thing I have heard is that under CWF the Dogs will be using Drive Blocking instead of Zone blocking. If that is correct, year 2 under a new system should be better with less missed assignments. IMO that is an area for possible improvement.

Anonymous said...

anonymous, i hope that you're right about the improvement coming in year two, but what concerns me is that potentially two of the starters (theus and beard) won't have already spent a year with the system.

Greg said...

I'm not so sure about #3. Usually, teams don't get better at a position when the previous back-up who couldn't beat out the man in front of him is now in the startling line-up.

If Theus doesn't have the freshman year that Jean-Gilles or Sturdivant had AND Beard turns out to be another Haverkamp, this line is in BIG trouble. I wish I shared your enthusiasm though...

Tony Waller said...

I'm saying Lynch already is a better blocker than Orson was. He wasn't going to beat him out as a starter due to Orson's receiving abilities. As a blocker? He's definitely better built and more proficient.

watcher16 said...

Humor me: how many times did we pass on 3rd and long?

Kevin said...


"Bean could run block."

If he wasn't busy false starting I might have been able to tell.

Tony Waller said...

We passed 34 times.

South FL Dawg said...

I like this. I'm buying it. I think....still hard to overcome putting a freshman to start on OL but Trinton did it so maybe. I'm with you.

edawg said...

I think you're "spot on" with this analysis. Look for the Dawgs to run two tight ends. The one-two punch from tight ends, Lynch and Rome will also include former Ol member, Hugh Williams. At 6'5", 250lbs, he's another formidable blocker that can improve our running game.

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