ATHENS – Kirby Smart, having seemingly finally convinced everyone that Georgia’s offense has gotten the better of his defense this spring, changed course a bit on Thursday night, when assessing how that day’s practice went.
“It’s the first life the defense has shown,” Smart said. “The defense has struggled a little bit, but I thought they made more plays today.”
So perhaps by the time G-Day arrives a week from Saturday, Georgia fans will see what was expected: A dominant defense getting the best of an offense that has questions at offensive line.
But when assessing how the offense had such a surprising first few weeks of spring, it seems to come down to that previous weak link: The line. And especially the guards.
Smart said when the spring began that it would be “musical chairs” as the coaches tried to find the right combination. And while that’s generally been the case on the second and third teams, the first team has been pretty stable.
Isaiah Wynn has apparently locked down left tackle. Lamont Gaillard’s transition to center has gone well enough not to move him back to guard. And the revelation has been at guard, where Pat Allen, who hadn’t played yet in two years at Georgia, has been the first-teamer at left guard the past few weeks. And at right right guard redshirt freshman Solomon Kindley has also settled in well.
That has allowed Dyshon Sims, the versatile rising senior who began the spring at left guard, to shift to right tackle.
When Wynn was asked who among the younger group had stood out, he named the first-team guards, Pat Allen and Solomon Kindley.
“Pat and Solomon, those two are the youngest guys, they’ve been doing a good job,” Wynn said. “And also Dyshon Sims, transitioning out to right tackle, he’s been doing good too.”
When inside linebacker Natrez Patrick was asked who’s the toughest guy he’s faced, he thought a couple seconds and then named Kindley.
“Solomon Kindley, the young guy. He brings a punch with him,” Patrick said.
That doesn’t mean that Georgia definitely has its front five for the season opener against Appalachian State. There’s still another week of spring practice, and then a talented freshman class arrives. Five-star tackle Isaiah Wilson will be of particular interest.
There’s also still time for redshirt freshman Ben Cleveland, who’s been playing right tackle, or junior college transfer D’Marcus Hayes, who’s been at left tackle, to make a move. (Wynn’s assessment of those two: “They’ve been good. … Ben, he’s just been getting better every day. And D’Marcus has been too. D’Marcus has started playing faster and more physical, so that’s good too.”)
But it seems fairly evident right now that the first unit, made up entirely of holdovers, is making it hard to replace them. That’s a positive step for the line, and credit to second-year offensive line coach Sam Pittman.
“It’s gotta be something (Pittman’s) doing,” Patrick said. “I don’t know, I’m not in the film room with them. I don’t know what he’s telling them. But he’s telling them something.”
G-Day is scheduled for April 22. Georgia’s spring game kicks off at 2 p.m. and will be televised on SEC Network.