ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said the Bulldogs’ celebrated offensive line had plenty to work on during the bye week coming off a rough outing at LSU.
Quarterback Jake Fromm was sacked three times and hurried on at least two others in the 36-16 loss to LSU, the Tigers’ shifting fronts and bringing pressures other teams are sure to mimic.
“I’m evaluating it every day because we’re always trying to get better at it, I don’t think you ever arrive,” Smart said when asked about the Bulldogs pass protection.
“A lot of pass protection is based on situations,” he said. “There’s pass-pro in play-action, there’s pass-pro in third downs when it’s obvious pass situations, there’s pass-pro in base protection when you have running backs and tight ends helping, so there’s a lot of variance when you talk about just pass-pro.”
There’s been a lot of variance on the Georgia offensive line, too, as far as different lineups and the health of the players.
The line will be key when the No. 8-ranked Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) play No. 11-ranked Florida (6-1, 4-1) at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Gators ranked 21st in the nation with 3 sacks per game entering the bye week.
Smart revealed on the SEC teleconference that left tackle Andrew Thomas has not completely recovered from the ankle injury that sidelined him in games at South Carolina and Missouri.
“The injury has been more of a concern, he has to push through,” Smart said. “He’s still not 100 percent over it. A lot of people assume he is, but he has to wear two braces, and he got rolled up early in the LSU game, it was bothering him after the second or third play of the game.
“He pushes through it, he continues to be one of our leaders on our offensive front.”
The Bulldogs have started three different offensive line combinations this season, right guard Ben Cleveland still sidelined by a broken bone in his leg suffered at Missouri on Sept. 22.
Redshirt freshman right tackle Isaiah Wilson has had his struggles against edge rushers this season, and Smart indicated true freshman Cade Mays hasn’t been perfect, either.
“We’ve got some guys that have done well, and we’ve got some guys who have struggled at times, we’ve got a couple of freshman out there playing who have struggled at times,” Smart said.
“As a unit, we’ve picked things up, we’ve gotten beaten some one-on-one, and sometimes we have to do a good job getting the ball out when that happens or getting out of the pocket to advance the ball.”
Smart said pass protection will always be a challenge in the SEC, because “defensive linemen are always ahead of offensive linemen.”
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