ATHENS — The Georgia football offensive line is finally starting to receive some recognition, being named among the top 10 in the nation by the Joe Moore Award voting committee.
The Bulldogs didn’t have any preseason first-team All-SEC selections on offense, and yet, the Georgia sits 10-1 and No. 5 in the rankings entering Saturday’s game at noon against Georgia Tech (7-4) at Sanford Stadium (TV: SEC Network, Radio: WSB 750 AM, 95.5 FM).
The award, which goes to the best line in the country, features two SEC offensive lines, those of the No. 5-raked Bulldogs (10-1) along with No. 1-ranked Alabama (11-0).
The other eight semifinalists for the award are: Notre Dame, Arizona State, Clemson, Memphis, Oklahoma, Pitt, Washington State, Wisconsin. The finalists will be selected on Dec. 4
Not surprisingly, Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman was selected as one of 15 semifinalists for the Broyles Award, which recognizes the top college football assistant coach. Pittman is one of only two semifinalists who is not a coordinator.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart is a past winner of the Broyles Award (2009) while at Alabama, and former UGA defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder received the award in 2003.
The Joe Moore committee took note that Georgia has started four different combinations up front, and discussed the Bulldogs’ efficiency despite its youth.
From the Joe Moore Award press release, this quote from the committee was issued on the Bulldogs: “One of the better coached units I’ve seen. Not quite last year’s unit, and RG 74 (Ben Cleveland) being out hurts. But to start a true freshman and operate at the level they do [with all the injuries] is commendable.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Tuesday Cleveland is able to play on the offensive line and hinted he may see more action there against Georgia Tech at noon on Saturday.
Bulldogs’ offensive guard Kendall Baker (knee) is out, and freshman Cade Mays (shoulder) has yet to have contact in practice since missing last Saturday’s UMass game.
Georgia leads the SEC in rushing offense (257 yards) as well as rushing yardage in SEC-only games (232). The committee stats revealed that UGA calls a run play on 85 percent of the plays the offense faces a third- or fourth down of 3 yards or less or goal-to-go situation.