Kirby Smart spoke with reporters before an appearance in Atlanta Wednesday evening and Georgia’s most obvious question mark for the 2017 season was a hot topic. The Bulldogs must replace sixty percent of its starters on a unit that was seen as average by most observers. Will offensive line guru Sam Pittman be able to whip his talented incoming freshmen into shape for SEC play? If not, can he get championship-level performance from his inexperienced existing roster?
Smart said that camp will begin with the starters from spring practice: Isaiah Wynn (senior), Pat Allen (redshirt soph.), Lamont Gaillard (redshirt junior), Solomon Kindley (redshirt freshman)and Dyshon Sims (senior). Wynn has 26 starts, Gaillard has a career total of 13 starts, Sims has started 3 games, Pat Allen saw action against Louisiana and in the Liberty Bowl and Kindley has one play under his belt. The, mostly inexperienced, starters from spring and the equally green subs will compete with an incoming freshman class that is loaded with talent.
Netori Johnson, Andrew Thomas, Justin Shaffer and Isaiah Wilson have begun the process of transforming themselves into SEC linemen, Smart said:
They’re not where they need to be, but that’s one thing, the fact we’re able to go out and do some conditioning stuff … they’re better than they were when they got here. Each one of those guys has shed some good pounds, and I think are more prepared. –Anthony Dasher UGASports.com
Smart also mentioned two returning linemen:
(Sean) Fogerty is a guy I’m excited about. He didn’t get to kind of finish spring due to the knee injury he had.Ben Cleveland had a couple of hiccups with injuries. All of those guys, when you put them all in there and say, ‘where’s this guy starting? Where’s this guy starting?’ Ultimately they’re going to get a lot of reps at each place. –Jake Rowe Dawgs247
We can debate quarterback play, wide receiver efficiency, and gloat over the riches at running back, but success in 2017 is squarely in the lap of the young pups on Georgia’s offensive line. Without adequate blocking those other questions are moot. The denizens of the trenches have to grow up – fast.