Saturday, Kirby Smart talked about the development of his offensive line as his line coach, Matt Luke, prepares his charges for their first campaign under Luke’s leadership.
Luke had the opportunity to get to know his room after Sam Pittman left for Arkansas last December and Luke was able to lead a makeshift line to victory in the Sugar Bowl.
“I don’t know what you think, or what you expect or what’s out there. I haven’t seen anything but the spot that is most competitive, both guards are going to be competitive. Trey [Hill] is playing center. Jamaree [Salyer] is playing left tackle. [Justin] Shaffer has done a lot of work with the ones at left guard, Ben [Cleveland] at right guard but I wouldn’t say that’s a done deal because we’ve got Warren Ericson, Clay Webb. We have some good competition. Netori [Johnson] has shown some promise there working. So, those guys are really competing at the guard spot. The right tackle spot has been the one, that is probably the most competitive deal. Owen Condon has really stepped up and done some good things. Owen hasn’t been healthy since he’s been here. He’s been a pleasant surprise in terms of competitiveness, intelligence, toughness. We’d like for him to play with a little more power and be able to move people. Then Warren McClendon. He [Condon] and Warren are probably getting the most reps there. Then Tate [Ratledge] has come along since the pads came on. Tate Ratledge has come on and played well. So we’re trying to find the best mix and as you always know, it’s not three guys getting one spot, it’s can one of those guys go in and play guard, better than one of our guards. So, we have a little bit of musical chairs going on at this point. Matt [Luke] is handling it well, Coach Luke. Those guys are competing. We have a good quality depth there. We don’t have the elite players we had last year.”