ATHENS — Georgia football is expected to have the best offensive line in college football this season, even if the starting five isn’t quite set yet.
The Bulldogs return six players with starting experience from a unit that has finished among the three finalists for the Joe Moore Award, which goes to the best offensive line in the nation.
Coach Kirby Smart put the brakes on anyone reading too much into the starting lineups for the annual G-Day Game on Saturday, however, making it clear there’s ongoing competition.
“Here we go,” Smart sighed after questions came up about the offensive line after the G-Day Game. “Guys, we could’ve put any lineup out there and those guys can’t switch teams within games.
“That was the number one offensive line for that scrimmage, (but) what they do in the offseason, what they work out like, how they do in school, how they compete in the fall, there’s still two springs left before the first game — we have two more versions of what we just did before we play a game.”
Further, Smart said, “there’s some guys that aren’t here right now on the offensive line, so to say who is going to be out there, you guys will predict all of that, but it’s going to come by what happens on the field for us.”
It’s not a stretch to suggest the players who started for the Red Team — designated as the first-team offense for the purposes of the scrimmage — are the favorites to open fall drills as the starters.
LT Andrew Thomas (6-5, 320, Jr.)
LG Solomon Kindley (6-4, 335, R.Jr.)
C Trey Hill (6-4, 330, So.)
RG Ben Cleveland (6-6, 335, R.Jr.)
RT Isaiah Wilson (6-7, 340, R.So.)
Smart said the competition will help the offensive line stay sharp and prevent any sort of complacency.
“We’ve had a great rotation, guys have competed really hard at right guard, Cade Mays has done a great job competing over there,” Smart said. “Right tackle is really up for grabs both guys are competing, there’s a lot of positions in there that guys continue to get better.”
The second-team line, the starters for the Black Team in the G-Day Game were:
LT Owen Condon (6-7, 310, R.Fr.)
LG Justin Shaffer (6-4, 330, Jr.)
C Warren Ericson (6-4, 305, R.Fr.)
RG Cade Mays (6-6, 318, So.)
RT Jamaree Salyer (6-4, 325, So.)
“Can it be a strength for out team, yeah, but so can a lot of our positions,” Smart said. “I don’t think you get things off forecasting or projecting, you get them off doing it, and we have to have them go out and play well to be a successful offense.”
Smart pointed out during the ESPN broadcast what a good problem Georgia truly has on its hands with its deep and talented offensive line.
“Most people struggle to get two O-lines out there,” Smart told Maria Taylor. “We’re having a hard time getting a lot of kids playing time. It’s a good group.”