Playing the offensive guard position at the University of Georgia is a tough task to say the least. In a program that prides itself on physicality, playing in the trenches, one of the most physical areas of the field, you get your fair share of bumps and bruises. It makes it harder when you account for the fact that you have to coordinate with four other offensive lineman. And it makes it even harder when you’ve had three different guys have to come in and play next to you because of injury.
Well, that basically sums up the situation that junior offensive lineman Tate Ratledge has experienced thus far this season.
In September, when the Dawgs hosted the South Carolina Gamecocks, Georgia’s six-foot-eight three hundred and forty pound starting right tackle, Amarius Mims, went down with an ankle injury. Before the bye week when playing against Vanderbilt, fifth-year senior Xavier Truss, who was playing in Mims’ absence, wound up suffering an injury and being taken out of the game. This left true freshman Monroe Freeling in to play and get meaningful snaps for the first time in his young career trying to keep it together next to an experienced Ratledge.
Each guy has his own way of doing things that Ratledge has now grown accustomed to, Mims the most though; they’ve been playing next to each other for about two years now. Ratledge says when playing next to Mims, there winds up being a lot of space because Mims can make up for it with his “freakishly long arms.”
“Mims is a freak. He plays like a freak…Mims usually is farther away when we’re passing off twists,” Ratledge said as he explained how Mims plays differently in pass protection.
As for the next man up, Xavier Truss, he plays “a little tighter” to Ratledge in comparison, but the bottom line is that he trusts the both of them immensely because they know their roles and understand what they’re supposed to do.
Now with Monroe Freeling, it’s a little different. Ratledge told us that when he spent most of his time trying to help Freeling out and “help him find his way” once he was fielded.
With so much change in the guys playing next to him, you would think chemistry would begin to become an issue, but Ratledge says it’s not an issue. He said:
“I think we’ve done a really good job kind of morphing together as one.”
According to Ratledge, practice is all about getting used to playing around different people. Coming off their bye week, there should have been plenty of time for that, so here’s hoping the o-line comes through strong and healthy at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.