ATHENS — The progress being made by the Georgia offensive line might have been the most surprising element of Scrimmage One on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
Kirby Smart made it clear he likes what UGA has to work with, and he’s confident offensive line coach Matt Luke can get it dialed in by the Sept. 26 opening game at Arkansas.
“We have a good quality depth there, (but) we don’t have the elite players we had last year,” said Smart, who’s replacing four starters including first-round offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson.
“We have a little bit of musical chairs going on at this point. Matt [Luke] is handling it well …. those guys are competing.”
Smart said junior Jamaree Salyer is playing left tackle, and preseason All-SEC junior Trey Hill is at center.
After that, the guard positions and right tackle spot are being hotly contested.
“The right tackle spot has been the one that is probably the most competitive deal,” Smart said. “Owen Condon has really stepped up and done some good things. Owen hasn’t been healthy since he’s been here. He’s been a pleasant surprise in terms of competitiveness, intelligence, toughness.
“We’d like for him to play with a little more power and be able to move people.”
Condon, a 6-foot-7, 310-pound redshirt sophomore from Oklahoma City, played in games in 2018 and appeared in just one game last season on account of what was described as a lower-body injury.
Smart said redshirt freshman Warren McClendon (6-4, 320) and Condon “are probably getting the most reps there” at right tackle.
“Then Tate [Ratledge] has come along since the pads came on … . has come on and played well,” Smart said.
The guard positions are also up for grabs, though it sounds like seniors Justin Shaffer and Ben Cleveland have the inside track at left and right guard.
“Shaffer has done a lot of work with the ones at left guard, Ben at right guard, but I wouldn’t say that’s a done deal because we’ve got Warren Ericson (and) Clay Webb,” Smart said.
“Netori [Johnson] has shown some promise there working. So, those guys are really competing at the guard spot.”
Here’s a look at the depth chart based on Smart’s press conference.