Coming into the spring, Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he wanted to have eight or nine guys ready to see playing time on the offensive line this season.
What may be troubling for the unit, outside of the ineffective run blocking on Saturday, is that offensive line coach Will Friend doesn’t see them as being close to that number as the spring practice season comes to a close.
“Today I thought about six to seven, I saw about six to seven guys do some good things,” Friend said.
Following G-Day, Richt was not troubled by the play of the line, citing the rotation of guys and the fact that they had to field two offensive lines as opposed to just one.
Friend, on the other hand, was discouraged.
“I didn’t think the red team played with enough effort, I was disappointed in that,” Friend said. “It looked like they were just trying to get through the day, started out early and was like they thought the day was over… [They] didn’t play like we wanted, didn’t play physical enough, didn’t play with the kind of effort that we expect out of them.”
While Friend wasn't pleased with the performance of the first-team line, he did have some praise for the guys who played for the black team.
“I thought the [black] team really gave some good effort,” Friend said. “I thought they showed some guys that wanted to compete and do some good things so I thought that was good.”
Solid spring for defensive line relays into G-Day
Much of the hype of Georgia’s football team this spring has been on the defense, which carried over into G-Day on Saturday.
One guy who has continued to impress Georgia’s staff, including new defensive line coach Chris Wilson, is defensive end Sterling Bailey.
“Obviously Sterling Bailey is a guy who’s really caught our attention as a staff,” Wilson said. “He’s really done some good things. The biggest thing was to see him be healthy and get through these 14 practices. The thing I liked about him, every day he got a little bit better at what he did.”
Bailey was awarded the defense’s True Grit award for spring practice.
A couple of other linemen that Wilson praised, John Taylor and Mike Thornton, will look to replace John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers in the interior of the defensive line.
“The next guy that I thought really improved was Mike Thornton, followed by John Taylor,” Wilson said. “I really think John Taylor, once he knows what to do, how to do it and the tempo to do it with, he’s going to be a guy who can help us win some games.”
Wilson was not shy about the roles of Thornton, a redshirt junior, and senior Garrison Smith, who will be the two most experienced defensive linemen next season.
“They’re the most experienced guys that we have right now, so I would say [they will start],” Wilson said. “The one thing you can’t teach is the experience that both those guys have playing.”
Despite Thornton appearing to lock down the starting noseguard and Georgia’s 3-4 base defense, Taylor will still see his fair share of playing time.
“They’re all X’s to me,” Wilson said. “Our deal is situational football so I play the best guys on the field. Sometimes, depending on the matchup, [Taylor] might be a noseguard, he might be a defensive end… He’s a guy with his ability, if he know what to do, can play all three downs for us and can play nose, end, three-technique, anything you ask.”
The real competition on the Georgia defensive line will be at the end position opposite Smith. Taylor will be in the mix there, along with former five-star recruit Ray Drew, among others.
“I’ve really been pleased with Ray,” Wilson said. “I didn’t look at Ray’s stars, I just looked at his tape. I look at the things that he did during the season and then I looked at the things he’s done so far this spring. He’s been productive. It’s like any young guy, they need confidence, they’ve got to have some success. I believe the more he plays, the better he’ll get.”
- Early-enrollee defensive lineman Johnathan Atkins was held out of Tuesday’s practice with a left knee sprain. According to Wilson, he should be back after a couple days of rest.
- Early-enrollee linebacker Ryne Rankin was limited in practice with a left-ankle sprain. He did not participate in G-Day on Saturday.
- Tight end Jay Rome was held out of practice with a right hip flexor strain.