Like most who follow the Georgia football program, Warren Ericson was worried when Jamaree Salyer was down in the second quarter with an ankle injury.
“I was worried of course,” Ericson said. “That’s my brother and I hate to see him go down, especially being the leader that he is.”
Salyer to date has been Georgia’s best offensive lineman this year. He continues to thrive at left tackle, even while projecting as a guard at the next level.
In the wake of the injury, Georgia proved to be fortunate twice. As it pertains to Salyer, the ankle didn’t swell up and the injury is considered minor. Kirby Smart stated that Salyer has been limited in practice this week but there’s hope he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game against No. 11 Kentucky.
The other fortunate aspect of the injury was that it forced Broderick Jones into action. The redshirt freshman played his best game to date when Georgia absolutely needed him to do so.
“Broderick did a nice job,” Smart said. “Broderick came in and that was part of the reason we’ve been developing Broderick is because we think he’s a talented player.”
Saturday was not the first time Jones played with the starting offense. The Bulldogs have been rotating him in at times throughout the season as a way to get him reps and on the field.
That had been done out of wanting to see what Jones could do. On Saturday, Georgia needed him to hold up against Auburn pass rush and clear holes in the ground game.
As the Bulldogs were able to salt away a 34-10 win, Jones did just that.
“He stepped in against Auburn, which is a fantastic opponent in their stadium,” Ericson said. “He was able to go out there and perform at a really high level, which is encouraging to see.”
Jones taking that big step forward demonstrates the depth on the offensive line. Georgia is already missing one starter as Tate Ratledge broke his foot in the win against Clemson. Now without Salyer, Jones was able to show that the group is able to withstand some minor setbacks.
The emergence of Jones puts the group in a better place, especially in the event that Salyer isn’t able to go against Kentucky this weekend. And if he is, Jones can now make a case for himself as one of the five best offensive linemen. That will be key to him seeing even more of the field.
“We’ll put the best five out there that gives us the best chance to win,” Smart said.
It hasn’t been a flawless season from the offensive line. The Auburn game demonstrated some of the peaks and valleys. Georgia had just 2.0 yards per rush in the first half but things finally began to open up in the final 30 minutes.
The Bulldogs finished the game with 201 rushing yards, making it the second game in a row the group has eclipsed that mark. If the offensive line can gel with Jones and Salyer potentially on the field at the same time, Georgia could open up quite a few more holes in the coming weeks.
“This season there’s been some highs and lows,” Ericson said. “We’ve been able to run the ball well these past two games which has been huge for us. That’s always a point of emphasis. We try and take every game to be the best we can and play the standard we always try to set.”
Warren Ericson dishes on Jamaree Salyer and Broderick Jones
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