April 7, 2008

Spring Recap: Offensive Line

The bodies are there. Now, it's just a question of whom.

That pretty much summed up the assessment of
[tm]Georgia[/tm] coach Mark Richt regarding the Bulldogs' offensive line and how the starting five will shake out this fall.

"The best five are going to play," Richt said. "Exactly who those five are going to be, we've still got to figure that out."

According to Richt, the Bulldogs did not go into spring practice expecting to have a starting offensive line in place before preseason drills begin in August. Fundamentals were the focus instead. Getting the young linemen to understand their assignments and develop the needed consistency was the goal.

This much is known:

Sophomore
Trinton Sturdivant is etched in granite as the starter at left tackle after a spectacular freshman season.

Fellow sophomore
Clint Boling, who missed half of spring practice with mono, is also assured a starting role. The question is where.

Before his illness, Boling, who started 11 games as a freshman (10 at right guard, one at right tackle), was moved over to the left beside Sturdivant with redshirt freshman
Justin Anderson assuming the starter's spot at right guard.

Although Richt says Anderson is still battling consistency, his size (330 pounds) and ability as one of the team's more punishing run blockers have coaches excited about his potential. Anderson will play a lot, but whether he maintains his starting spot could well depend on who the Bulldogs settle with as their starting center.

Redshirt sophomore
Chris Davis worked out as the No. 1 center throughout the spring, but after Saturday's G-Day game, Richt conceded that true freshman
Ben Jones is pushing for the top spot and barring something unforeseen, would definitely not redshirt this fall.

Coaches love Jones' intensity, his dedication and the fact that he possesses "little mean streak" that all successful offensive linemen seem to have. "We just like the way Ben goes about his business," Richt said. "Is he ready to start? I don't know, but if he's one of our top linemen, he's going to play."

If Jones does supplant Davis at center, coaches would have the option to slide the Jefferson native back over to left guard - where he started all 13 games last fall - with Boling going back over to right guard.


Kiante Tripp is expected to hold onto the starting spot at right tackle, although Richt has been pleased with the progress of
Josh Davis, who can play both tackle positions and will undoubtedly be in the rotation in a key backup capacity.

Ditto for the versatile
Vince Vance:

A junior, Vance is the lone upperclassmen among Georgia's offensive linemen. Although he was penciled in to start the spring as the starter at left guard, coaches have apparently decided to have the Hinesville native keep the role in which he was so successful in 2007 - as one of the top backups at both tackle and guard positions.

Vance suffered what Richt deemed a sprained an ankle during Saturday's G-Day game and left the field on crutches. However, the head coach expects Vance to be recovered in plenty of time for preseason drills.

Another player who stepped up in the final week of spring practice is redshirt freshman
Tanner Strickland. Strickland saw some time with the No. 1 unit in the final two days of spring drills and has progressed to the point where he too should definitely contribute as part of
[tm]Georgia[/tm]'s two-deep rotation.

Ben Harden, Chris Little and
Kevin Perez remain in the picture and will get further looks in the preseason, as will incoming freshmen
Cordy Glenn and Jonathan Owens, although it's expected the latter two will redshirt this fall.



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