Georgia’s success against Florida may lay behind Warren Ericson, the offensive line

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Georgia’s success against Florida may lay behind Warren Ericson, the offensive line

Georgia interior offensive lineman Warren Ericson hasn’t played a snap against Florida in his previous two years, but the annual rivalry game means something to him because both of his parents attended the University of Florida.

The North Gwinnett High School product signed with Georgia as apart of the nation’s top recruiting class in 2018. Since arriving in Athens, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound former four-star has played as a reserve on Georgia’s offensive line. Ericson got his first start in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and played every snap in Georgia’s 26-14 win over Baylor.

Ericson said on Wednesday that he’s extremely excited about playing the Gators this upcoming Saturday.

“Aww man, this is a huge game,” Ericson said when asked if anyone in the locker room had talked about how important this game is. “I definitely just think it’s a collection of everyone on the team. Everyone knows this game and how huge the rivalry game is. And we know what we have to do to win this game. I mean we’ve got to play hard and go play some UGA football.”

This matchup against Florida is significantly important because the outcome will more than likely decide the winner of the SEC East division.

Florida brings in one of the best passing attacks in the nation led by quarterback Kyle Trask and tight end Kyle Pitts. They will face Georgia’s stout defense, which is one of the best in the nation. Although, the Bulldogs will be missing a few key players including senior safety Richard LeCounte and junior nose tackle Jordan Davis.

On the flip side, Florida’s defense is very vulnerable, but Georgia’s offense has only scored 14 points in the last six quarters of play. Georgia will be led at quarterback by Stetson Bennett, who’s thrown five interceptions in the last two games. Hopefully the Bulldog faithful will be able to have great success on the ground against Florida. The Gators only gave up 40 rushing yards against Missouri last week, although, in their loss to Texas A&M, the Aggies rushed for 205 yards.

Georgia rushed for a season-high 215 yards in their 14-3 win over Kentucky and averaged 5.0 yards per attempt. They will be looking to do that again behind a big and physical offensive line that has done nothing but improve since the start of the season.

Ericson attributed Georgia’s offensive line success to first-year coordinator Matt Luke.

Georgia offensive lineman Warren Ericson (50) during the Bulldogs’ practice in Athens, Ga., on Thursday. Sept. 3, 2020. (Photo by Steven Colquitt)
Georgia offensive lineman Warren Ericson (50) during the Bulldogs’ practice in Athens, Ga., on Thursday. Sept. 3, 2020. (Photo by Steven Colquitt)

“I think Coach (Matt) Luke has done a fantastic job since he came in,” Ericson said. “He was talking to us today – I think next month will be a year since he got here. Every single day he’s come in and attacked every single day with incredible enthusiasm. We’ve kind of concealed that and taken on the same personality.”

Ericson said that the key to being successful, especially against teams like Florida, is to go out and be as physical as possible.

“We want to continue to get better step-by-step-by-step,” Ericson said. “Whatever it takes because we just want to be the best for this team in everything we can possibly do.”

Georgia’s offensive line has faced a ton of adversity this year with players being moved around and shuffled into different spots. Injuries and development problems have caused some of that movement, but the Bulldogs seem to have that ‘next man up’ mentality down well.

In fact, when senior offensive linemen Ben Cleveland suffered an injury against Kentucky, Ericson came into to fill in at right guard where he played 29 snaps.

“You’ve got to have that ‘stay-ready’ mentality,” Ericson said when asked filling in at right guard this past Saturday, “You know, that’s just my rule this year and something that I’ve taken personally because I am going to do my absolute best at it. It just comes with that mentality that when it’s my opportunity I am not going to let my brothers down on this side of the ball.”

All roads to beating Florida start with Georgia’s offense being able to score and be more efficient than it has been the past six quarters.

Ericson said that the goal of the offense is to try and be better no matter what.

“Your ultimate goal is that you want to be perfect in every single thing you do,” Ericson said. “Of course, you can’t be perfect, but you can be as close to perfect as you can be. So as we continue to go, we want to strive for that perfection and as you said, I didn’t even know that statistic was there. Although every single time we hit the field, we have the notion that we are going to score. That’s what we want to strive to do every single drive.”

Hopefully, Georgia’s offense can succeed and Ericson can get some meaningful snaps in a game he grew up watching.

“Both of my parents actually went to Florida, so this is a huge game to me,” Ericson said. “This game has a special place in my heart because I grew up watching it and now I get to be apart of it. So, I definitely take that as a treasure. This game is two great teams, two great offenses, and two great defenses. So, we’re going to go head-to-head in Jacksonville and we’re really excited to play another great team.”

Here is the video from Ericson’s interview:

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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.