Bulldogs still trying to solve O-line ‘puzzle’

Offensive tackles Kendall Baker (L) and Tyler Catalina square off on a blocking dummy in a recent practice.

ATHENS — Georgia’s offensive line remains a puzzle that the Bulldogs are still trying to piece together. Then, again, that’s pretty much how it always is this time of year.

That was the message of coach Kirby Smart with regard to settling on a starting five and solidifying the left-tackle spo.t

“The good thing is about the O-line is we’ve got three guys who played significant roles last year,” Smart said, referring to Brandon Kublanow, Greg Pyke and Isaiah Wynn. “So that’s good experience, a good piece to have back. But offensive line every year everywhere I’ve been is a puzzle. You’re trying to piece it together and figure out if you move this part, does it make the whole better?”

Smart took issue with one question in particular. Has was asked if graduate transfer Tyler Catalina had fallen behind in the competition at left tackle.

“No, he hasn’t,” Smart said. “… Why would you say that? Are you counting reps?”

The question was based on offensive line coach Sam Pittman calling for players to line up for drills during the media viewing period. Recently, Catalina has not been among the linemen when the first- and second-units were called. Catalina came in at left tackle when Pittman as for “the 3s.”

Throughout preseason camp — which technically ended Wednesday as players start fall classes on Thursday — Wynn, redshirt sophomore Kendall Baker and Catalina has rotated regularly at left tackle. Overall, Wynn had been getting about 60 percent of the work there. But he cross-trains at left guard and has played there most in his career.

Bottom line, the Bulldogs are still in a mix-and-match stage. And Pittman, Smart said, is one of the best at figuring out which five make the best whole.

“Sam does that as good as anybody,” Smart said. “He establishes confidence in them; they have confidence in him as a teacher. That unit’s starting to jell. It’s really important that they do so that we can be successful and run the ball. He’s done a great job with them.”

 

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