ATHENS — The play of Georgia’s offensive line may be a source of frustration through three games, but it’s providing some good copy for Kirby Smart’s news conferences.
Smart, who isn’t afraid to throw a question back at a reporter, did so a couple of times Monday when the subject of the O-line came up. Georgia has given up nine sacks, tied for the most in the SEC, and ranks ninth in the conference in rushing yards, despite the presence of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
Smart was asked whether the change in offensive line coaches may have contributed to the run-blocking problems, because of an adjustment in schemes.
“What went on last year?” Smart responded.
In terms of run blocking?
“Yeah,” Smart said.
Not as good as they would’ve liked, probably, the reporter replied.
“Same way we feel,” Smart said, alluding to this year’s staff. “So I mean, to me that’s the biggest difference, is they’ve changed the coaches but a lot of the personnel’s the same on the offensive line. And you’ve got to do a great job of getting those guys better, and you’ve got to get them stronger in the year. We’ve got to become a physical football team that runs the ball.”
Georgia has three returning starters on the line: center Brandon Kublanow, left guard Isaiah Wynn and right tackle Greg Pyke (who was at right guard last year.) Rhode Island transfer Tyler Catalina has started the first three games at left tackle, with redshirt sophomore Lamont Gaillard at right guard.
Another reporter asked Smart if he had thought about experimenting with the lineup, and shuffling some players to different spots, or giving different players an opportunity.
“What are you suggesting?” Smart replied.
The reporter replied that he wasn’t suggesting anything, but that Wynn had played left tackle.
“Move Isaiah (to tackle), move Catalina in?” Smart said.
No, just any general thought to shuffling the lineup, the reporter responded, or perhaps Wynn to left tackle, Catalina to right tackle. (The implication being Pyke could then move back to right guard.)
“Because we didn’t practice that in camp, and try that already,” Smart said. “You know, we’ve looked at every combination we can, and we’ll continue to do that. Those guys practice when y’all aren’t there, besides the 12 minutes you are there (for the media viewing period). They do those things, and we look at them. And we go against the defense. We go against (defensive linemen) Trenton (Thompson) and (John Atkins). Then we go over and do one-on-one pass rush when you guys aren’t there. And they pass (protection). And Isaiah does tackle and different guys play guard. At then at the end of the week we say ‘what’s our best lineup?’”
Smart paused for a beat.
“I hope that answers your question,” he added.
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