ATHENS – After every game, Georgia’s offensive linemen are issued grade sheets, which include comments from the coaches. Center Brandon Kublanow was asked Monday if the one he saw after Saturday’s included any cursing.
“Nah,” he said, chuckling. “Nothing too crazy.”
But nothing very laudatory, it’s safe to assume.
Georgia’s blocking – by everybody, not just the front five – emerged as a huge problem in the team’s uncomfortably close win over Nicholls State. Kublanow, so far the lone offensive lineman available to the media since the game ended, was offered up the worry on the front of many Georgia fans’ minds in the aftermath of that game:
If you’re going to struggle blocking against Nicholls State, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the year.
“I don’t believe that,” Kublanow said. “Your performance isn’t based off of one Saturday. You know, things change during the week. Guys get better, guys will improve, and that’s what we’ll focus on.”
It’s up to Kirby Smart and his coaches to decide if any personnel changes need to be made. For the players, the task is determining what went wrong against Nicholls State, when Georgia’s line failed to get a push, and the outside blockers didn’t open lanes.
“Coaches said it: We got out-hit, and you don’t want to have that against anybody,” tight end Jeb Blazevich said.
Georgia’s run game was stifled almost throughout the 26-24 win, with star tailback Nick Chubb being held to less than one-third of the 222 yards he gained against North Carolina.
Blazevich and Kublanow both diagnosed one problem last week: Is practice better another way of saying practice harder? Not necessarily, according to Blazevich.
“I feel like our effort was great. I think it’s just continuing to just focus on the details,” Blazevich said. “You can’t get slack in the details, the little things.”
Blazevich used the example of making the right step as you’re approaching a block. Not paying enough attention to little details like that was missing last week, he said.
“Yeah, definitely in the preparation, just a ton of different things, but we need to practice better,” Blazevich said. “I think that’s one of the main key points heading into this week, starting with today. We need to practice physical and develop that identity at practice.”
Still, for all the talk about little things, Kublanow said he was taking it upon himself to be harder on his group this week.
“I think you play how you practice. If you don’t demand enough out of your guys during the week then you’re not going to be able to perform,” Kublanow said. “So I take part of it on me, as a leader. So I’ll demand more out of my guys this week, like I will for the rest of the weeks.”
Communication could be an issue, considering the subbing on the line: Isaiah Wynn shifts from left guard to left tackle sometimes, and both guard spots then see rotating. And quarterback Jacob Eason, who was making his first start, is still learning the nuances of game management.
“We’re continuing to communicate better and better every day,” Kublanow said.
Whatever happens, Georgia needs to be ready for a stiff test on Saturday.
Missouri traditionally has one of the best fronts in the SEC, and senior end Charles Harris leads another talented – though not deep – defensive line. Harris had a sack and nine tackles last year as Missouri stifled Georgia’s offense, though the Bulldogs eked out a 9-6 win.
Little did Georgia know it would have just as much trouble blocking an FCS team, Nicholls State, that only won three games last year.
“It wasn’t an exciting atmosphere after,” Kublanow said. “We know a lot of things happened, we have to get to work.”