July is the worst month of the year for college football fans. There is little to break the news drought but the hope of “commitment” to push UGA up the recruiting rankings and bolster the collective ego. Even the annual orgy of media-interviewing-media (SEC Media Days) does little to allay the dull ache of college football withdrawal. Even at this gridiron nadir, however, there is hope – July will give way to August, fall camp and dreams of championships.
What can we expect from the Bulldogs in 2017? That is the question that everyone with access to a keyboard will be attempting to answer over the next few weeks. There will be fascinating, in-depth analysis of every position group. Fans will pin their hopes on:
A) the four seniors who chose to return for their last season in Sanford Stadium
B) Jacob Eason’s development as a quarterback and his guidance by offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will occupy the thoughts of many (or)
C) A solid defense with most of its pieces returning will be discussed at length, and the best recruiting class in a generation will get its share of press.
However, Kirby Smart and Company have one big question for 2017 – the offensive line. If the answer is found, Georgia will play for the SEC Championship in December.
I have often argued that the term “skill position” is applied to the wrong group. Backs and receivers are referred to as “skill position” players when, in my opinion, “talent position” would be a more accurate description. A skill is something that is acquired through study and practice while a talent is innate. It goes without saying that quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers must gain skills to be elite, but the core abilities (running fast, great vision, superb balance, hand/eye coordination) necessary for excelling at a “skill position” were present at birth. Offensive linemen, on the contrary, are created through the acquisition of skills not required on the elementary school playground.
Many fans fail to appreciate the education necessary to produce an SEC-quality offensive lineman, assuming that 4 and 5-star offensive line recruits will possess the skills required to provide quarterback protection and running lanes automatically upon arrival in Athens. The reality is that very few freshmen offensive linemen contribute significantly to good football teams. However, “very few” is not the same as “none.”
We are about to witness a season that presents the challenge of a career to Georgia’s offensive line staff. Contributions from freshmen and other young, inexperienced players are going to be necessary for the team to reach its potential. The fanbase has adopted a “show me” attitude toward the Smart Regime. Win the East, and shaky expectations become confidence, while the torches and pitchforks get buried in the back of the attic.
Dawgs need a miracle – no pressure, Coach Pittman
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