ATHENS — One of the biggest disappointments on Georgia’s team this year – and there have been many – has been the play of the offensive line. Four starters were back from a unit that performed well last year, but this year has been a struggle.
Now there might be some changes, after eight games. Head coach Mark Richt, when asked Sunday whether there might be personnel changes to the offensive line, started his answer directly: “Yeah. We are, as a matter of fact.”
Georgia’s front five has been the same each game: Left tackle John Theus, left guard Isaiah Wynn, center Brandon Kublanow, right guard Greg Pyke and right tackle Kolton Houston.
Theus, Pyke and Houston are at the spots they started each game last year. Kublanow started every game at left guard last year, then moved to center after spring practice, while Wynn, a sophomore, slid to left guard after working at center during the spring.
“Were going to look at some combinations that might be a little bit different. I’m not sure where we’ll land,” Richt said. “We had actually repped a few different looks in the open date then kinda went back to the original lineup and we’re gonna revisit some of those thoughts that we had back then.”
Georgia’s run blocking has been the biggest issue, though it’s not been helped by the season-ending injury to star tailback Nick Chubb three games ago. The Bulldogs are averaging 197.3 rushing yards per game this year, down from 257.9 per game last year, when they had Chubb or Todd Gurley for every game.
In Saturday’s loss,Georgia failed to convert run plays on second-and-1 twice, on third-and-1 once, and on fourth-and-1 once.
“It’s very frustrating to be second-and-1 and then run it, and then third-and-1 and run it, then you get stuck, or you get fourth-and-1 and you don’t make it,” Richt said. “That’s tough on field position. It’s tough on morale and momentum of the football game. We’ve definitely gotta get better at that.”
The pass blocking has been better this year, yielding just nine sacks in eight games, after yielding 17 in 13 games last year.
Taken together, that would point to the bigger issues being in the middle of the offensive line. But the run blocking on the outside hasn’t been that great either.
In any case, it seems clear that the team badly misses the one starter who didn’t return: David Andrews, a three-year starter at center, has started every game this year as an NFL rookie for the undefeated New England Patriots.