The offensive line. The big uglies. The guys who experience the impact of a car crash on every snap in which they participate. This silent majority (weight-wise) is often the difference between a good team and a great team, and always underappreciated and overlooked by fans and the media.
This phenomenon is supported by the fact that I can find no full-season starts and snaps numbers for the Georgia OL, and yet undermined by the extreme importance NFL teams place on this position group (show of hands: who had honestly heard of former Auburn OL Greg Robinson before a week ago?)
It’s not sexy to be an offensive lineman. It’s not sexy to discuss offensive linemen. But the following quote, coming from another school’s running back’s mother should get you pretty excited about the concept of studying their play:
The OL is critical to our success. Sure, a mobile QB could take a bit of pressure off of the OL for a second or two. But, the skilled guys cannot do their jobs as designed until the OL becomes a goon squad capable of rolling over/thru defenders like Mack trucks and/or knocking defenders on their asses. I want them to become a bunch of penalty-free savages. It could just be me, but I don’t think they play angry enough. The ‘Dawg’ HAS to be in them because I’ve watched him come out at practice. I just don’t think they let him out consistently on game day. (Former Center) Bodine’s Dawg roamed off the leash and I admired his passion for the game. IMHO, a few of his penalties were phantoms. The others…well, he just got caught with his hands in the cookie jar.
I have read quite a few comments from various posters about how the OL isn’t a factor. Sadly, the OL rarely gets credit for the work that they do. But, it’s because of them that the QB even has a pocket or RBs have a lane or crease or WRs to get open. Hell, some of them even get their big butts moving to block downfield. Still not convinced? Question: How many OL and DL went in the 1st round of the draft last year? Don’t worry. I’ll wait.
So, no. This is not as easy of a read as the receivers breakdown, and won’t get you excited about the upcoming season like the drool-worthy offensive backfield, but the success of Georgia’s offense in 2014 will come down to the following individuals:
Initially I tried to break this into tackles, guards, and centers, then exterior and interior, but Georgia’s staff has a propensity to move pieces around quite liberally. I did not know Kenarious Gates was a guard his first two years on campus.
Departed: LT Kenarious Gates (36 starts), LG Dallas Lee (34 starts), RG Chris Burnette (37 starts), backup Austin Long
This hurts. The three guys whose names were rarely called (another fun fact about offensive linemen: fans only know the bad ones!) are also the three leaving the program for 2014. Gates is projected to be a 7th-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com, while Burnette and Lee are on the outside looking in (Burnette is pursuing his MBA so I think his playing days are over). None of the three will wow you with tangible strength or athleticism, but their ability to gel into a cohesive unit made the 2012-2013 Georgia offensive line a great place. I expect some growing pains.
Projected/Previously Tackles: Junior LT John Theus (22 starts, 8 in 2013), Senior RT Kolton Houston (5 starts), Junior Xzavier Ward, Senior Mark Beard, Senior Watts Dantzler, redshirt freshman Aulden Bynum
Projected Interior: Senior C David Andrews (27 starts) Senior Hunter Long, Junior Caleb Drake, Sophomore Greg Pyke, Sophomore Brandon Kublanow, Junior Preston Mobley, redshirt Fr. Devondre Seymour, Redshirt Freshman Josh Cardiello (4*), Sophomore Cole Trollinger
That’s a mouthful, but there’s good news here. Andrews is an anchor at the center position, and having a veteran center will definitely ease the burden on picking up reads for the younger guys flanking him.
The tackles, Theus and Houston, both played a ton of snaps last year, and I expect Theus to take over at LT (hopefully while progressing, something he did not do from freshman to sophomore year. I keep hearing good things about Mark Beard being the other man at tackle, which would free up Houston to again play the role of third tackle.
I can’t claim much familiarity with the returning guards, but with Beard’s versatility he could be an option for one of the openings here, too. I suspect that Brandon Kublanow’s lack of a redshirt in 2013 is indication that he is being groomed to be among the next group of long-term starters on the line. Between Long, Drake, Pyke, Seymour, Cardiello, and Mobley, there are plenty of players who we’ll hear about separating themselves in spring ball leading up to G-day.
Isaiah Wynn (4*, #7 guard per 247′s composite rankings), Dyshon Sims (4*, #17 tackle), Kendall Baker (4*, #20 tackle), Jake Edwards (3*, #28 guard).
You never like to bring in only three OL due to the difficulty of projecting growth or busts, or the possibility of someone developing into a stud (a la Robinson, who leaves Auburn after 3 years). For me, bringing in 5 OL seems burdensome as well, as that is 5 scholarships likely redshirting in the upcoming season. 4 is the magic number, and the experts seem to think that these four possess significant potential.
Having said that, file this section away for the next two years.
Losing 100 combined solid starts from such a pivotal position (blah blah, SEC defensive linemen) is my biggest concern for Georgia as we sit 6 months from kickoff. While Theus, Andrews, Beard, and Houston provide varying degrees of experience and talent, the shuffling that will be necessary for Will Friend will make for a frustrating early part of the season. A good offensive line has time to gel and become synchronized, something that the departures of Gates, Lee, and Burnette and the shuffling of many young players prohibits the Dawgs from doing. This is a trouble spot for 2014. C-
Nice read brought to my attention by Daniel Palmer.
It’s dangerous to compare any corporate atmosphere to that of another industry. I work in finance. The regulations/atmosphere, etc. are nothing like what someone who teaches school for a living would face. Neither is inherently better or more difficult than the other, but not every aspect of either is relatable to the other. The challenge lies in identifying what makes a successful workplace.
As Connor Barwin points out here, a successful NFL team is one whose lockerroom is run by disciplined leadership.
Per Barwin: the key to fitting in is 1. Being able to play at the NFL level and 2. Wanting to be a part of the TEAM.
Interesting perspective, worth a read.
Originally posted on The MMQB with Peter King:
By Connor Barwin
I get asked a lot about “locker room culture” these days. Ever since the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito bullying situation and the recent coming out of Michael Sam, it seems the media has become fascinated with understanding the inner workings of an NFL team. I’ve seen countless articles discussing how bullying or homosexuality is dealt with in an office setting and others comparing our workplace with the traditional American workplace. But let’s get something straight: My job is very, very different from your job.
While most of my friends and family have been climbing up the corporate ladder or grinding through medical school, I have had the distinct pleasure to set up office on a folding chair at One NovaCare Way, in the Eagles’ complex in South Philadelphia for the past year. Prior to that I was employed by the Houston Texans, and before that I was “employed” (let’s call it what it is) by the Cincinnati Bearcats football and basketball teams. Not counting a stint at Leo’s Coney Island—where I washed dishes and lit cheese on fire as a 16-year-old—the locker room is basically the only workplace I’ve ever known.
Jason Smith weighs in on the impact of major professional sports on state legislation.
This whole gay rights and sports conversation that the Dude and I talked about on my first podcast is getting on another level now.
First, Michael Sam comes out and was treated as….well, as a normal player at the Combine.
Next, the NBA did the equivalent of a YouTube “FIRST!” and saw Jason Collins, an openly gay player, get significant time in the 4th quarter of a Nets game.
Now enter the State of Arizona and SB 1062.
If you’re not familiar with that appellation it is a law that Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s desk just vetoed. To paint the bill in its best light, it was a law aimed at preventing businesses run by religious people from being coerced by the state to provide services in a way that violates their religious convictions. To paint the bill in its worst light, it would have allowed for business owners to refuse services (i.e., discriminate) to gays and lesbians on the basis of religious convictions.
Regardless of your opinion on this law (and regardless of ours, frankly), this is an interesting story from the sports perspective.
Turns out that the state of Arizona has several sports franchises. The MLB issued a statement going on record against the bill. I can’t remember the last time that has happened, if ever. Next, the NFL was also said to be closely monitoring the progress of the bill, though they did not come out against it in the way the MLB did.
Why were they monitoring the bill? Well, the Super Bowl is in Arizona next year.
Now to my point: sports are (maybe) the most powerful cultural force in our society today. Case in point—after several significant politicians have come out against it and many activist organizations have voiced their outrage over the bill, the real force that pushed the bill into the veto box might have been sports. At the very least, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Brewer decided to veto the bill after all of this outrage AND on the day that rumors surfaced that the NFL might move the Super Bowl if the law passed. In the end, doesn’t it seem like we can safely say that sports played a role in this bill’s demise?
Take a second to let that sink in.
One of the reasons, among many, that a law was vetoed was because the commissioners of the two professional sports leagues who have franchises in the state of Arizona expressed concern over the bill.
I don’t know if that’s good or bad. The real question is the one I always find myself asking in this era of sports:
How the hell did we get here?
Like it or not, Georgia has one of the nation’s most stringent standards for off-field behavior. Student-Athletes of all sports at UGA navigate one of the more severe punishment systems for drug and alcohol related transgressions. Many of the Georgia arrests that steal headlines are minor traffic violations that would be overlooked elsewhere (scooter incidents, expired licenses, etc.).
And yet, the Bulldogs—despite a seemingly high standard for behavior—are consistently among the SEC’s most penalized teams on the field.
What gives? Is there a hypocritical contradiction between expectations? Or is something else at play?
My theory is that Richt (and the University) have two separate but cooperating goals:
- Build high-character young men.
- Build winning teams.
Richt has alluded to this many times before and it’s a far cry from a unique take, but I do think this explains what could be perceived as inconsistency.
Read more here.
That’s all I got/
Georgia Bulldogs Completely Whiffed on the Biggest Running Back Prospect of the 2014 Recruiting Class
I’m ashamed to say that I’m just now reading about this guy. Why didn’t somebody let me know?
Tony Picard, a 6’4″, 400 lb. running back committed to play for Everett Junior College in Washington. He’s slated to play OL according to Busted Coverage, but he can run the rock!
According to the Yamaki Herald, Picard ran for 576 yards and seven touchdowns with a YPC in the range of 6.
Highlights are below, but how did Mark Richt and Mike Bobo miss on this guy? They must hate winning.
That’s all I got/