ATHENS — Georgia’s offensive line had one rather glaring major breakdown during this past Saturday’s opener against Louisiana-Monroe. A linebacker came free straight up the middle and sacked quarterback Brice Ramsey in the second quarter.
Exactly where the breakdown occurred was a closely-guarded secret as the Bulldogs refused to assign blame. It looked as though both center Hunter Long and guard Isaiah Wynn should have picked up the blitz, as well as fullback Quayvon Hicks and tailback Nick Chubb.
But then line coach Rob Sale cleared up the cloudy picture on Tuesday.
“It was on us; it was on the offensive line,” Sale said after the Bulldogs’ two-hour, full-pads practice. “The center had the other (blitzer). It was ‘Pykie.'”
‘Pykie’ is junior right guard Greg Pyke, a preseason all-conference nomination this season.
“The rabbit’s out of the bag,” Sale said. “It was him.”
That was about the only bad news for the offensive line, which had both Brandon Kublanow and Wynn taking on new roles on Saturday. Generally they had a solid showing as the Bulldogs cruised to a 51-14 victory.
“They did pretty good,” Sale said. “They played hard. At the O-line position you’re never going to master technique. You just constantly have to hone in on getting better every single day and getting back to work on the little things about the position that make you successful.”
Kublanow was playing his first game at center after starting every game at left guard as a sophomore last season. Wynn had started at center all last spring but was moved to Kublanow’s left-guard spot over the summer.
“I thought it went pretty well for it being Isaiah’s first start,” Kublanow said of Wynn. “We definitely have areas to improve on.”
Kublanow shouldered the blame for the sack, because as center he’s supposed to make the calls at the line.
“We just had a little bit of miscommunication,” he said. “But we’ll get it fixed.”
Georgia is expected to field one of the best offensive lines in the SEC this season, with four of five starters returning overall. But the Bulldogs’ depth on the line is becoming of increasing concern as a clear second unit did not develop in preseason camp.
To that end nobody was more disappointed than Sale when officials terminated the game with 9:54 remaining in the fourth quarter. At that point, senior Hunter Long was the only non-starter to have gotten into the game. Sale said he had already informed Georgia’s backups that they’d be in the next series.
“I really felt bad for those guys,” Sale said. “… Just like anybody, they’ve put in the work and the effort. Those guys were disappointed for sure.”
Sale said the next four in were going to be Wynn at left tackle, sophomore Dyshon Sims at left guard, Long at center and redshirt freshman Kendall Baker at right tackle. He was going to keep Pyke at right guard.
Developing depth not just for this season but for next, is a high priority for the Bulldogs. Georgia will at least be losing left tackle John Theus and right tackle Kolton Houston, if not also Pyke, who is already drawing a high NFL draft grade.
The future of the blind-side-protecting left tackle is of particular concern. But Sale likes what he has seen from Wynn.
“You have to always play your best five out there,” Sale said. “Isaiah Wynn does a really good job at left tackle. He really does. It’s encouraging to see. We get him some reps here and there in walk-through.”