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Ben Cleveland started at right guard for Georgia

Georgia OL Ben Cleveland on winning SEC offensive lineman of the week: ‘I didn’t feel like I played very well’

As Ben Cleveland exited Sanford Stadium on Saturday night, he wasn’t all that happy with his performance following Georgia’s 27-6 win over Auburn.

“Honestly, walking off the field I didn’t feel like I played very well to tell you the truth,” Cleveland said. “I thought I left some things out there on the field.”

Cleveland seems to be his harshest critic, as the SEC named Cleveland the SEC’s offensive lineman of the week. The Bulldogs ran for 202 yards on the night, with Cleveland opening holes at right guard in the win. He registered five knockdowns and graded out to with an 83 percent in the win.

This is the second time in Cleveland’s career he’s won the honor. The first time came in 2019 following his performance against Missouri.

“But after going back and watching the film, I realize I played better than I thought I did,” Cleveland said. “Obviously very pleased with that but it just leaves room for improvement.”

The offensive line came under heavy criticism following its performance during the opening game of the season against Arkansas. Georgia ran for only 121 yards as a team and the lack of a running game proved to be one of the major woes ailing the offense.

The Bulldogs swapped in Warren McClendon at right tackle and the Bulldogs as a whole played better.

Georgia running back Zamir White proved to be the main beneficiary, as he led the Bulldogs in rushing with 88 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.

“I think it was just a bunch of guys on the team recognizing we had a lot to improve on and making an effort to make sure we got that covered,” White said of the improvement from week 1 to week 2.

RelatedGeorgia football gets creative and back to basics in rushing game turnaround against Auburn

Offensive line play will once again be a major focus for Georgia this week as it plays Tennessee on Saturday. Like Georgia, the Volunteers have built their program through the offensive and defensive lines. Whichever team is best able to control the line of scrimmage, likely holds the upper-hand.

Another reason for the focus on the offensive line is because one former Georgia offensive lineman will be suiting up for Tennessee. Cade Mays, who started 18 games at Georgia over the last two seasons, transferred to Tennessee and was granted eligibility for the 2020 season last week by the SEC.

Mays and Cleveland were friends and split reps at right guard last season. The latter was asked about his relationship with the former, and Cleveland understood why Mays made the move that he did, as unpopular as it might be with some.

“We were always good whenever he was here. You can’t shake your head at a kid for wanting to do what he felt was best for himself and his family,” Cleveland said. “Because ultimately that’s what everyone here on the team wants. We want what’s best for you and your family.

“That’s what he felt was best for him and his family. I feel like we stood behind as his teammates as he went on that journey.”

Georgia and Tennessee get started at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS. Both teams enter the game unbeaten on the season so far.

Georgia offensive lineman Ben Cleveland wins SEC offensive lineman of the week award

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