Georgia coaches not pleased with offensive line

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Georgia football coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo weren’t too critical of the play of the offensive line immediately after Saturday’s G-Day Game.

The Red Team offensive line blocks for Aaron Murray during Saturday's G-Day Game. The Georgia coaches weren't happy with the effort put forth by the unit.  RICHARD HAMM/MORRIS NEWS SERVICE
RICHARD HAMM/MORRIS NEWS SERVICE
The Red Team offensive line blocks for Aaron Murray during Saturday's G-Day Game. The Georgia coaches weren't happy with the effort put forth by the unit.

Yet, when the Bulldogs returned to the practice field Tuesday, offensive line coach Will Friend had returning starters John Theus and Kenarious Gates working on the second team at right and left tackle, respectively.

“I didn’t think the Red team played with enough effort,” Friend said of the starting unit. “We’re disappointed in that. It looked like they were trying to just get through the day. They started out early and it was like they thought the day was over. … Didn’t play physical enough, didn’t play with the kind of effort we expected out of them.”

Center David Andrews, left guard Dallas Lee and right tackle Xzavier Ward, who Bobo said Saturday was playing the best of all the tackles, remained with the first unit Tuesday with Mark Beard at left tackle and Watts Dantzler at right guard.

The offense gave up a combined nine sacks by touch in the scrimmage and the Red team ran for only 23 yards.

“Looking at the film from this game, I’d be very concerned about this offensive line,” ESPN analyst Ed Cunningham, an All-Pac-10 offensive lineman at Washington who played five seasons in the NFL, said on air Monday. “This is my opinion as a former offensive lineman: They played horribly. And that happens a lot in spring games when the defense is a little amped up. If I was Mark Richt, I’d be very happy about my defense at this moment. But going into a schedule that starts with Clemson and then goes into the SEC, if I’m Georgia, I’m very concerned about the performance of my offensive line.”

Friend has more than four months to get his line, which returns all five starters, ready to go for the opener. Of course, how his players are lined up in practice No. 14 in the spring doesn’t hold too much significance.

Friend said that Andrews, Lee and right guard Chris Burnette (out this spring with a shoulder injury) should remain in the starting lineup.

“I think Dallas Lee’s gotten better,” Friend said. “He’s moving better and Dallas has won a lot of ballgames here in games he’s played in.”

Theus, a five-star recruit who started every game at right tackle as a freshman, would figure to be the starter at left or right tackle. Friend is looking for Theus to improve his technique and get stronger.

“We’d like for him to play better,” Friend said.

The emergence of Ward gives Georgia depth at tackle with Kenarious Gates and Beard. Gates can play guard or tackle.

“I tell you what Xzavier Ward if he can keep coming, he’s done really well,” Friend said. “He’s got to continue to get stronger. He naturally does some good things. He listens. We’ve been pleased with him.”

Friend would like to have a handle on his starting lineup by the middle of preseason camp, he said.

“Somebody, one of those guys needs to step it up and let us know,” Friend said. “We’d like for somebody to do that pretty early and get a group going.”

After Clemson, Georgia gets South Carolina and one-man wrecking crew Jadeveon Clowney,

“We all know how good Clowney is, but heck we’re just trying to get the best five players out there right now,” Friend said.

A storyline this spring has been Georgia building depth on the offensive line (that includes guard Austin Long before he broke his hand again), but Friend didn’t see much on Saturday. He said about six or seven players looked good Tuesday.

“I’d like to play as many people as possible,” he said. “Whoever’s ready, I’ll play.”

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