ATHENS — On Friday night, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and offensive line coach Sam Pittman flew up to New England to meet with Tyler Catalina, who, once he arrives, could threaten to win a job at offensive tackle. In Saturday’s scrimmage, the current Georgia offensive line blocked very well.
Maybe it was just a coincidence.
“No, I didn’t say anything about that,” Smart said, chuckling. “I’m sure they know, because it’s all out.”
Smart, Pittman and Catalina all tweeted pictures from the visit, which was apparently to shore up the commitment of Catalina, a graduate transfer at Rhode Island who will have one year of eligiblity.
It also may have been to remind Catalina that Georgia lost its two starting tackles off last year’s team, and that through four weeks of spring practice, at least one spot remains wide open. Smart didn’t quite say that on Saturday, but he hinted at it.
“That’s a situation where we’re giving him a great opportunity, we’re giving him a great opportunity to make our team better,” Smart said.
— Coach Sam Pittman (@CoachSamPittman) April 9, 2016
Smart said he liked Catalina’s maturity, competitive spirit, and body type. But it will also be a challenge to come in and immediately learn the system, another reason that Pittman may have wanted more face time with Catalina.
“I’m looking for him to come in and compete right away,” Smart said. “It’s not like it’s a deal where you can sit down there and say, You’re coming in fourth string. You’ve got to come in and compete.”
In the meantime, Georgia has tweaked its first unit offensive line, and the early results are promising, at least judging by the scrimmage.
Isaiah Wynn, the projected left guard starter, has been working first-team left tackle the past three practices. Lamont Gaillard has worked at first-team right guard, with Dyshon Sims moving to left guard. Center Brandon Kublanow and right tackle Greg Pyke have remained in their spots.
Kendall Baker, a redshirt sophomore, was working second team on Thursday and Saturday, after running with the first team at left tackle for the first 10 practices. Pat Allen, the redshirt freshman who had been working second-team right tackle, was on third team the past two practices.
Smart opined that the better pass protection on Saturday could have had something to do with the offense trying to run the ball more, thus mixing up the calls for the defense. But Smart added that the pass pockets were generally better, and “it was a different vibe” in pass protection.
“Was it because Isaiah was (at left tackle) and Gaillard was at guard, it may have been. It may have been because we ran it better,” Smart said. “But certainly it was more efficient. I stand behind the quarterback in the scrimmage and I could see down the field. Last (scrimmage) it was chaos.”