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Georgia offensive lineman Warren McClendon (70) during the Bulldogs' game against Florida at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Rob Davis)
Rob Davis

Auburn star: Why Georgia offensive line better than Alabama line

ATHENS — Georgia football has plenty of questions to answer as it reloads for the 2022 season, but the offensive line is not one of them.

Fans and critics can question Stetson Bennett, they can point to Kirby Smart’s concerns at receiver and even wonder how deep the backfield goes beyond Kenny McIntosh with Kendal Milton nursing a soft hamstring.

But the Bulldogs’ talent and attitude up front is such that Georgia can win all of its regular-season games merely by executing behind its dominant front line.

Throw the ball, catch the ball, don’t turn the ball over or commit penalties.

WATCH: Broderick Jones looks to lead Georgia line play

Auburn defensive end Derick Hall, one of the most elite rushers in college football, puts Georgia line play at the top of the SEC.

“Alabama has a few guys, but Georgia is all across the board, they play hard,” Hall said at SEC Media Days in July. “They are physical, they’re tough, they’re strong … they move around well.”

And, Hall indicated in giving Georgia the edge over Alabama, they are well-coached.

“They try to hone in on the small things to help you beat guys like that, because we lead as a D line and they lead as an O line,” Hall said. “It comes down to little things, little matchups that you find. So, I would have to say Georgia.”

The Bulldogs’ line certainly has the sort of talent and depth needed to replace departed starters Jamaree Salyer and Justin Shaffer this season.

Broderick Jones stepped in for an injured Salyer at left tackle late last season, and then he replaced the current San Diego Charger in the CFP Championship Game, with Salyer moving inside to guard.

Warren McClendon is a three-year starter at right tackle, while Sedrick Van Pran returns to play center. Amarius Mims is a sophomore former 5-star propect in waiting at either of the tackle positions.

That the guard positions are up for grabs is a good thing, as it says everything about UGA’s talent and depth when one of only four returning game captains (Warren Ericson) is scrapping for a starting job.

Tate Ratledge is considered one of the best run blockers on the team, and once completely healthy — he missed last season with a foot injury and missed Scrimmage One with turf toe — is expected back in the starting lineup.

Redshirt sophomore Devin Willock (6-7, 335) and junior Xavier Truss (6-7, 320) are two more powerful options inside, and Smart has said redshirt freshmen Dylan Fairchild, Jared Wilson and Micah Morris have impressed.

The line transitioned from Matt Luke’s retirement after the season to offensive line coach Stacy Searels.

Searels, who previously coached at Georgia under Mark Richt, helped build an offensive line at North Carolina that led the ACC in rushing prior to his return to Athens.

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