April 13, 2011

More on the OL

For those who might wonder why offensive line coach Will Friend cross-trains a number of his players instead of having them focus on one spot, last Saturday's ACL injury to starting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant is the best example why.

"The more spots guys can play, the more valuable they are to your team for situations just like somebody going down," said Friend, who was already giving Cordy Glenn considerable reps at left tackle - just in case.

According to Friend, he really had little choice.

"We weren't really comfortable with anybody else as the backup (for Sturdivant), so whomever was going to be the starter, the other one was going to have to go there if the other one went down," he said. "That happens when you're short on numbers, you've got to be able to flip flop, that really why we were doing it."

Friend said the same holds true for Justin Anderson.

Although Anderson worked with the first team at right tackle during Tuesday's practice, he's been getting just about the same amount of reps at right guard along with sophomore Chris Burnette, with redshirt freshman Brent Benedict also getting his share of snaps.

At right tackle, Anderson is competing with junior A.J. Harmon while Austin Long will get a closer look once he recovers from the shoulder strain he suffered during the second week of spring drills.

"A.J.'s a guy who has a lot of talent, he just hasn't been consistent enough to play like he should," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "But I think he sees an opportunity and a lot of times when an opportunity like this presents itself, guys tend to step up and that's something we think A.J. will do."

Sophomore Kenarious Gates is currently penciled in at left guard with backup help from Kolton Houston.

"It's still going to leave the opportunity to get the best five out there," Friend said. "Bean (Anderson) might be there at guard, he might be there at tackle."

• Friend said he's taking his time working Benedict into the fray for a couple of reasons, the biggest being he's missed over a year since blowing out his knee in Oct. of 2009.

"He missed a lot last year and guys like that you forget it's not just the injury, but the work you missed and the terminology," he said. "Something like that is second nature to Ben Jones, Chris Burnette, Cordy Glenn and those guys. He just hasn't had many reps so that hurt Brent, the fact that he missed the whole year. To me, that's just a big an issue as anything."

• Although popular theory suggests that Georgia will redshirt most if not all of its six freshmen offensive linemen this fall, Friend said that's certainly not etched in stone.

"No matter what happened (with Sturdivant) if guys are ready to play, they'll play. Our job is to get them ready as fast as we can and it's their job to come in great shape and get ready to go," Friend said. "Like I said, we'll play the top five. I want them all to come wanting to be starters to begin with."

Of the six, former Colquitt County standout Xzavier Ward is the only freshman guaranteed of redshirting as he's still recovering from ACL surgery.

• The opportunity has been there for one of Georgia's incumbent running backs to establish himself before this fall's arrival of Isaiah Crowell. But according to Bobo, that hasn't happened so far.

Washaun Ealey has been hampered by a strained hamstring for most of the spring, while redshirt freshmen Ken Malcome has fought a nagging groin injury.

Senior Caleb King has been healthy but has been inconsistent while Carlton Thomas has yet to make a noticeable impact.

"Caleb has shown flashes. He had a decent day the other day and ran the ball (Tuesday) OK, but I wouldn't say anybody has stepped out to say 'I'm the man,'" Bobo said. "But we still have the other scrimmage (G-Day) and an opportunity to get better."

Oddly enough, the most impressive running back may have 5-foot-6, 170-pound walk-on Brandon Harton, a native of Reidsville who has impressed coaches and teammates alike with his quickness and speed.

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