ATHENS — Tate Ratledge has no problem admitting Saturday was not his best performance. He knows the offensive line didn’t play up to the Georgia standard, with the redshirt sophomore being critical of his own play.
“I think we just have to play to our standard,” Ratledge said. “I don’t think some of us did that game, me in particular.”
Ratledge was responsible in part for a sack that led to Georgia kicking a field goal in the first quarter. The Bulldogs also gave up 3.0 tackles for loss in the performance as well.
“(Offensive line coach Stacy) Searels preaches to us that sacks and TFLs will lose us a game so we believe in that,” Ratledge said. “We try to keep Stetson untouched the whole game, which of course that hasn’t worked out how we wanted it to.”
It’s worth remembering Ratledge is still making his way back from a foot injury he suffered in the opening game of the 2021 season. Saturday was the first time he was asked to play a four-quarter game.
Ratledge knows he doesn’t need to make excuses for his or the offensive line play to this point. Using one of the team mantras, nobody cares.
“I feel like I’ve definitely picked up with the speed of the game,” Ratledge said. “But I still feel like there’s a lot that I need to work on actually. Stuff during the game where I let loose and just mess something up.”
Some of the areas Ratledge wants to focus on are improved footwork and conditioning. There’s also a slight worry about his pad level from time to time, but that’s natural for a 6-foot-6 offensive lineman.
Through four games, Georgia has still rotated heavily along the offensive line. Even with Ratledge starting, Georgia has still found plenty of reps for Xavier Truss and Devin Willock at the guard spots. Amarius Mims also rotates in at the right tackle spot.
The move has helped build depth at the position while keeping the offensive linemen fresh.
For as much hand-wringing as there has been about the Kent State performance, it’s worth putting into perspective that Georgia still won comfortably. The Bulldogs have given up only 2.0 sacks this season and have topped the 500-yard mark in three of their four games thus far.
“We are always trying to clean up and play better,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “When you don’t punt, it’s hard to say you played poorly. If you had 500 yards of offense, it’s hard to say you played poorly. I always want to play better. There’s not a guy out there - it’s not the guards. You can point a finger at the quarterback, the center, the guard, the tackles, the receivers. Everybody can play better, and we can coach better, too, as coaches.”
Smart praised the Missouri defensive front this week, noting their physicality. Georgia and Ratledge are going to have to match that when they take the field in Columbia, Mo.
And no matter if it’s a road game, Ratledge knows he has to come out and deliver a strong performance than he did against Kent State.
“No excuses. If you mess something up, own up to it,” Ratledge said. “Don’t have an excuse for it.”
Tate Ratledge blunt about the Georgia football offensive line heading into Missouri game
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