The way I see it, there are 119 NCAA FBS schools that I do not cheer for. I have no problem being pessimistic about any and all of those football programs. Accordingly, I claim the right to be as optimistic about the one team that I actually root for, the Georgia Bulldogs. And, in that light there a number of areas that I view as strengths for the Georgia Bulldogs heading into the 2011 season. One of those, despite popular opinion, is the offensive line.
Coming out of spring ball injuries and transfers seemed to have depleted the Dawgs’ frontline and caused many to write off the Bulldogs’ big uglies already. I’m having trouble doing that. When I look at Georgia’s offensive line, I actually see a pretty well-represented group. I see five really big guys, three of whom have spent significant time on the field.
Cordy Glenn is projected to hold down duties at left tackle. Glenn is a 6’5”, 348-lb senior who has started 36 games and played in three more at left guard. He’s moving positions, but a man of Cordy’s size and experience probably had a pretty decent idea of how to push guys around and protect his quarterback.
Not only does Cordy Glenn sound like a heck of a cartoon character or barbecue joint mascot, he’s also turned into a great offensive lineman. I’m confident in his play anywhere on the line.
Kenarious Gates, a sophomore, will be starting at left guard. Gates played in seven games as a freshman and started three. He’s one of the most athletic 330-lb men you’ll ever see.
Ben Jones will once again be the rock at center. The 6’5”, 316-lb Jones has appeared in 39 games over his career and started 35 at center. Jones will be sandwiched by the two most inexperienced linemen; I have no doubt that his leadership will inspire them.
Chris Burnette is the least utilized man of the bunch, but I think he’ll have success at right guard. He came out of high school as the No. 2-ranked offensive guard in the country and has been in Athens for three years. I don’t foresee him panicking the way many first-time starters do.
Justin Anderson will be back after missing the majority of 2010 with an injury. Prior to last season the 6'5", 342-lb right tackle played in 25 games and made 12 starts. He’ll be back and hungry, and I’m pretty sure this big guy knows a thing or two about being hungry.
These five players account for 110 games of action and 90 starts. Are there inexperienced elements on the line? Sure there are. But don’t those 90 starts account for something? That’s 18 starts (a season and a half) per lineman. Sure there have been position changes, but with an average weight of over 329 pounds, can’t some poor technique be overcome? The Dawgs would have had the second heaviest line of 2004—in the NFL.
Furthermore, the Bulldogs will return one of the best receiving tight ends in the country in Orson Charles. He will undoubtedly gain some attention from linebackers and relieve some of the pressure coming at Aaron Murray. He’ll be backed up, and sometimes accompanied by Aron Whitewho has played in 36 games and started 16 at TE. And, yet another former TE, Bruce Figgins, will be blocking from the fullback position.
Much of the concern about the line is centered upon a perceived lack of depth. Such a concern is understandable as the Dawgs have suffered injury after injury over the past few seasons. But maybe the Dawgs are due for a stint of good health. The new strength and conditioning regime has them focused on football-specific training and nutrition. That change could go a long way in preventing injuries and fatigue.
If the offensive line does in fact represent Georgia’s weakest unit, then the Dawgs may actually be headed for a great season. I think the line may be just fine.