Georgia football offensive line key to turning around passing offense: ‘We have to be able to do both’

October 8, 2022 Athens - Georgia's running back Daijun Edwards (30) is lifted up by Georgia's offensive lineman Broderick Jones (59) after he scored a touchdown during the second half in a NCAA college football game at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday, October 8, 2022. Georgia won 42-10 over Auburn. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

ATHENS — Sedrick Van Pran said something clicked for the offensive line in the fourth quarter of the Missouri game. The front five finally began opening holes, as Georgia ran for 107 yards in the final quarter of the 26-22 win.

Some of that could’ve been chalked up to Missouri’s front tiring out. The Tigers employed an aggressive front and are nowhere near as deep as Georgia.

But what the offensive line found carried over into the win against Auburn. The Bulldogs ran for 292 yards and would’ve eclipsed 300 yards if not for late-game kneel downs and a sack of Stetson Bennett.

“I just think it’s an asset to be able to run the ball. It’s a mindset that you have to click,” left tackle Broderick Jones said. “If you’re not able to run the ball, you won’t be a great offense. We pride ourselves on being a good offense, so we have to be able to do both.”

Georgia’s offensive linemen were hesitant to share what changed between the third and fourth quarter of the Missouri game or why they were able to carry their play over into the win against Auburn.

Smart spoke all week about striking and attacking. The Georgia offensive line very much bought into that mindset against Auburn.

“We are excited to get out there every day. I think the complacency is out the window,” Xavier Truss said. “We have a lot of guys that are hungry to get out on the field and put in work. Again, this week the main point has been to strike and attack. I think that is a big part of our identity.”

Related: Kirby Smart sees more physicality from Xavier Truss, a look at O-Line snap counts

Georgia is still rolling deep on the offensive line, with eight offensive linemen playing 25 snaps or more in the win. Jones and Van Pran led the way with 69 snaps played.

Depth is a major plus for this group and as we get deeper and deeper into the season, that should help the Bulldogs. As players wear down and injuries mount, Georgia has plenty of capable and fresh bodies to push around opposing fronts.

“I’m proud of the development those guys have had,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “They keep getting better and we’ve got to. We got to get more guys on defense that can play winning football. And that’s going to be the key down the stretch as we play these games coming up, including Vandy, you got to have more guys that can play with stamina the more snaps you have to play.”

Georgia should be able to overwhelm Vanderbilt this weekend. The Commodores rank 10th in the league in run defense. Even with Kendall Milton’s status undetermined for this weekend, Kenny McIntosh, Daijun Edwards and Branson Robinson should have plenty of holes to run through.

The thought with Georgia is that a strong running game should in turn help foster a passing game that was less than perfect against Auburn. Things began to really turn though once Georgia was running the ball at will.

Do that again on Saturday and the Bulldogs should be able to remedy some of the passing woes.

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