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Gates Takes The Lead On UGA’s O-Line

When it comes to importance on the 2012 Georgia football team, Seth Emerson of the Macon Telgraph believes there are few players more key to UGA’s success than left tackle Kenarious Gates.  According to Bulldog offensive line coach Will Friend, Gates is the one guy who rose above the pack this spring:

 

“Nobody’s separated themselves – with the exception of Ken Gates. Right now if you were gonna play a game I know he would be there.” 

 

With so many new faces on UGA’s line, Gates needs to live up his performance during spring drills.  Emerson believes that if Gates “isn’t up to the job, or at least not on a consistent basis, (then) the Bulldogs are juggling the line on a constant basis.”

The Dawgs will be trying to replace tackles Cordy Glenn and Justin Anderson from last year’s line.  Gates — who started nine games at left guard last season — will be the man trying to fill the void left by Glenn and trying to protect quarterback Aaron Murray’s blind side.

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Another Man Gone; Richt Worried About O-Line Depth

Entering what many believe to be a make-or-break year, Mark Richt is hemorrhaging offensive linemen.  This spring, Georgia lost senior starting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant to his third knee injury.  Now, possible right tackle AJ Harmon is leaving the team for personal reasons.

UGA’s coach refused to elaborate on why the experienced junior is leaving when pressed on the matter.  “That’s kind of why you say it’s personal reasons.  Because it’s personal.  That’s all I can tell you about that.  I wish him the best.  Good kid.”

Georgia had a three-man battle — prior to Harmon’s departure — for the starting tackle jobs: Harmon, Cordy Glenn (a converted guard), and Justin Anderson (a former guard who played on the D-line last year).  Even if he didn’t win a starting job, the veteran Harmon was expected to be the Dawgs top backup at tackle.

Now UGA might be forced to give more playing time to freshmen.

“You’d like to have more depth by now,” Richt said yesterday.  “You’d like to have more guys waiting in the wings for their opportunity.  I’d rather not go through another cycle of freshmen playing; they kind of go through the program, and when they leave you’re playing freshmen again.  It really is not ideal.  But if that’s what it takes, that’s what we’ll do.”

For a team looking to re-establish its ground attack, the Dawgs are now thin on the offensive line and have lost their leading rusher from last year in Washaun Ealey.  As one writer warned last week, incoming tailback Isaiah Crowell isn’t going to have the kind of vet offensive line in front of him that Marcus Lattimore and Mike Dyer starred behind last year in their freshmen seasons.

Outwardly, Richt is putting on a brave face.  “I think we’ve got enough guys who can line up and play football at a very high level.”

But inwardly — facing the loss of one experienced tackle after another — one has to wonder if Richt is quietly humming this 1979 piece of cheese to himself:



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