At the precise moment Kirk Herbstreit was calling for Georgia to find answers for Alabama’s vaunted front during the television broadcast of Monday’s game, the Bulldogs found one.
It inserted Broderick Jones into the game at left tackle, a place the redshirt freshman was familiar with after starting four games for Georgia during the month of November. But the bigger and more impactful move was flipping Jamaree Salyer from left tackle to right guard for Warren Ericson.
All season, Kirby Smart and Salyer answered questions about if the senior would make the position switch, given he figures to do so at the NFL level. Salyer was Georgia’s best offensive lineman this year and an All-SEC player at left tackle. He played a key part in holding Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson without a sack in Georgia’s Orange Bowl.
But in the biggest moment, Smart, Todd Monken and Matt Luke pulled the trigger. Salyer slid over to right guard.
It worked. Georgia’s offense found its needed answer by making a position change. It just didn’t come at quarterback as so many screamed for at all hours of the season.
“I think the offensive line is kind of a rhythm game, kind of like pitching, kind of like anything else,” Salyer said. “It’s five guys working cohesively to make one thing happen, so sometimes it takes a minute to settle into the game.”
Jones entered the game with 7:07 remaining in the second quarter. To that point, Georgia had just 13 rushing yards on six designed runs, with the Bulldogs averaging 2.1 yards per carry. Four of the six attempts went for 1-yard or less.
The first drive after the change led to a Georgia field goal to make it a 9-6 game. On the next offensive drive, Georgia called three straight running plays which led to a first down to run the clock out on the first half.
Georgia’s first two carries of the second half were for gains of 11 and 19 by Zamir White. Georgia then called three straight pass plays which led to a punt, stalling a successful drive. On Georgia’s next drive, the Bulldogs again called three straight passing plays, which led to another punt.
In Georgia’s hour of need, Salyer opened the door for the Georgia offense one final time. He allowed his team to walk through and emerge as champions.
“Just understanding the work that it took, honestly, it’s kind of one of the crazy things, just understanding how much work, manhours and how many reps,” Salyer said. “It’s kind of crazy to look back on it. I only got this opportunity once in four years, so it’s even more special for me to be a senior and to be able to do it that way, too. It’s just a lot of things make it really special for me, but God is good.”
Jamaree Salyer discusses the big offensive line change Georgia made to beat Alabama
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