The Georgia Bulldogs completed their first scrimmage of 2021 fall camp on Saturday with a slew of injuries to starting-caliber players. Head coach Kirby Smart said that he was “proud of the effort of our guys,” but also noted the number of guys missing.
Amongst that group were some of the integral pieces of the offensive line, as the Bulldogs get ready to face one of the most talented defensive lines in the country when they face Clemson. Sometimes though, adapting to new positions can lead to a group being more well-rounded.
“I do not think that you will go anywhere in the country that does not have moving parts,” said Smart in a virtual press conference on Saturday. “If you do not move anybody, and someone gets hurt, do you just play the number two? He might not be the best player. We have made a big-time effort to play guys at multiple positions. Everybody says, ‘You have to get continuity.’ I want to get continuity, but I know that, the SEC and the rigors of it, there are going to be injuries. We have had them. Owen Condon is down right now. He was playing tackle and guard, and he is not out there right now. He has had a good camp. He is bright. He has versatility. I am pleased with where our guys are, but we have to get better. We are going to play one of the best fronts in the country in the first game, so our guys really have to lock in and compete.”
Center Warren Ericson is currently dealing with a hand injury and will most likely have to play in a cast even when he does return. That forced senior lineman Jamaree Salyer to take snaps at the center position. Salyer started his career mainly playing guard, before moving to tackle last season, where he started nine games.
Georgia’s offensive line will be made up of a lot of guys who are “jack of all trades” players that can play multiple positions. There will not be two first-round talent tackles on this team like the Bulldogs had in 2019 with Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, so it will probably benefit the ‘Dawgs to get comfortable moving around from the start.
“I am going to be honest, I feel good about all of those guys,” said Smart. “Two-deep, we have guys that have played. (Xavier) Truss got some really good experience against Cincinnati. Jamaree (Salyer) has played a whole year at tackle. He has bounced in at guard. He is now playing center.”
If Salyer has to start the season playing center, that would open up a big hole to fill at left tackle, one that would most likely go to Xavier Truss. The 6-foot-7 product from West Warwick, Rhode Island has all the physical traits an SEC team would want in a tackle, it would really just come down to how ready is he to take on that role against a top-five team in the country.
The Bulldogs seem to be set right now at left guard and right tackle with Justin Shaffer and Warren McClendon occupying those positions, respectively. Tate Ratledge will most likely start at right guard, but that spot is probably less of a lock because Ratledge is a redshirt freshman and only played in one game last season.
If Smart feels that the Bulldogs will benefit from having multiple guys playing multiple positions on the offensive line then it could help Georgia find its identity up-front. However, the pressure to have it right come week one in Charlotte is also heightened with guys like Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy looking to wreak havoc for Clemson.
For Kirby Smart’s full presser: