UGA’s offensive line: The forgotten group for good reason

Photo by Rob Saye

Whenever a fan looks at a football team, the first spots they look at on the field are quarterback, wide receiver, running back, linebacker, etc. The one place they likely don’t look, is the offensive line.

When a kid is growing up, they rarely ever say “I want to be an offensive lineman.” Most of the time, players are placed at positions on the offensive line because a football coach at a young age feels like that is the best spot for them.

Furthermore when you think of the offensive line, the first position you think about is the left tackle. Why? Because most quarterbacks are right handed and thus that is why that position is called the “blindside.” Because that position is responsible for protecting the quarterback from a part of the defensive front they cannot see.

Coming into the 2014 season, Georgia had the task of replacing three full-time starting offensive linemen. Out went left tackle Kenarious Gates, left guard Dallas Lee, and right guard Chris Burnette. In slides Sophomore Greg Pyke at left guard, sophomore Brandon Kublanow at right guard, and senior Kolton Houston is now the starting right tackle. He moved to that spot, with junior John Theus sliding over to the left tackle spot.

All in all this season, this offensive line has helped lead a rushing attack that is putting up an average of about 260 yards per game. Plus, they haven’t allowed a sack in the previous two wins over Kentucky and Auburn. Also not to be forgotten this season, is the fact that Georgia is fourth in the SEC when it comes to third down conversions. This offense is converting 47 percent of their chances.

It is said with the offensive line, that attention is bad. Really if people know your name, it’s for the wrong reason. On Tuesday, Georgia head coach Mark Richt took the time to brag a little about the offensive line and the job they’ve done this season.

“It’s been very outstanding,” Richt said. “We’ve given up very few sacks and have obviously rushed the ball very well.”

Georgia has done all of these things this season, as mentioned earlier in this piece. Richt also knows that attention isn’t going to be readily thrown at this group of five players, from the people outside the Butts-Mehre Building.

“The linemen know they aren’t going to get a lot of accolades,” Richt said. They all know that they usually get noticed if they jump offside or hold. But their teammates know. The coaches know. That’s kind of all they need. They are, in my opinion, the most unselfish group on a football team. They’re the only group that doesn’t have stats.”

Richt went on to talk about how close the offensive line seems to be and the bond that they’ve forged over the season.

One major reason for this group came together and is playing so well in 2014, is the play/leadership of senior center David Andrews. He might play one of the most overlooked positions in an overlooked position group. However, his contributions are well known by his quarterback Hutson Mason.

“You don’t ever want to lose him up front,” Mason said. “Just because of the communication and the film work we do on a weekly basis to study with each other. He’s kind of already in my head up there. So a lot of protection checks that I have to make, when he’s in there I don’t have to walk up to the line and make my checks, because he already knows what we’re trying to do.”

Another major reason Georgia has been successful up front on the offensive side of the ball, is the fact that all five linemen have played without injury for all 10 games to this point. This is something that sophomore Greg Pyke says has been very beneficial to this team.

“I think that definitely helps coach (Mike) Bobo have trust in us,” Pyke said. “Getting that experience and just know each other’s strengths. That definitely does help that we have all that experience in those games.”

Even with suspensions or injuries this season, Georgia has needed to rely on other’s to step up and play meaningful minutes for them on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line has been there all season long and will hopefully continue to be there for the next three plus games this program hopes to play in. They would like to play in five games to close out the 2014 season. If they do that, it would mean they made it into the newly created College Football Playoff.

Of course if that is to happen, they need some help from the college football world. Step one is this weekend, with Tennessee hosting Missouri. It is safe to say that all Bulldogs fans are Vols fans for just one weekend.

It is pretty safe to say, the Bulldogs offensive line plus team wouldn’t mind an early December game inside the Georgia Dome.




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