Dawgs Look to get OL Back to Form

Dawgs Look to get OL Back to Form

ATHENS – Clint Boling had a shaggy mane of hair for much of the summer, and the first two games of the football season.

He finally cut it last week, all the way down to a buzz cut.

"It just kind of got long, and hot," the Georgia offensive lineman said. "Time for a change, I guess."

The same goes for the play of Boling's offensive line.

The front five was supposed to be the most reliable cog, along with star receiver A.J. Green, on an offense that otherwise had questions. Instead Green has been out with an NCAA suspension, while the line has been a disappointment.

The Bulldogs are averaging 3.7 yards per rush, the worst in the SEC. They're also in a three-way tie for the most sacks allowed.

This from a unit returning all five starters, including three seniors.

The pass protection was actually pretty good until the Arkansas game, when the Razorbacks recorded six sacks. The blocking also couldn't have been helped by the absence of fullback Shaun Chapas and tailback Caleb King, the team's best blocking backs.

(Chapas is listed third on the new depth chart, indicating his ankle is still bothering him.)

"Some of it is some of the running backs, and some of it is us," Boling said. "We've got do a better job of pass protecting. Aaron's a freshman quarterback, so we need to give him as much time as possible. On Saturday we didn't do a good enough job."

Head coach Mark Richt assigned blame to all quarters for the sacks: The line, the tailbacks, and quarterback Aaron Murray's pocket presence. Richt and the staff are urging Murray to move up in the pocket when the pressure comes.

"Any time he didn't move forward, he was more apt to get drilled," Richt said. "He's gotta learn to continue to work his way up to the pocket, and throw the ball in time."

Murray isn't going anywhere, unless he gets hurt. But the Bulldogs have begun tinkering on the line.

Boling shifted from left tackle to right guard for two series, allowing Trinton Sturdivant to play at left tackle. Richt indicated that Sturdivant, a former freshman starter coming off two knee surgeries, will get more of a look.

"Trinton is moving forward and deserves to get more opportunity and will get better moving forward as we go," Richt said. "Definitely a bit of rust on him though."

Tanner Strickland has been elevated to first on the depth chart at right guard. He started there against Arkansas in place of Chris Davis, ending a 12-game starting streak.

Richt said Chris Davis didn't start at right guard for two reasons: He was "banged-up" with a couple injuries, and he was the only available backup center.

But Richt had earlier stated that the guards were in danger of losing their jobs.

Left guard Cordy Glenn apparently staved off any competition with his performance against Arkansas. Glenn missed a couple weeks of preseason practice with mononucleosis, and center Ben Jones missed nine days after getting his knee scoped.

Richt had worried that the missed time would affect the offense's continuity. Boling granted that may have had an impact, at least in Glenn's case.

"I had mono my freshmen year, and I couldn't imagine coming back as quickly as he did," Boling said. "It's tough losing so much weight and coming back and playing so physical. It probably did hurt a little bit (having Glenn and Jones out), but we're just trying to look past all the guys missing time and stuff like that."

Glenn said he knows his unit could hold the key to turning around the struggling offense.

"I think we're very important. Especially because a lot of us are older," Glenn said. "We have a couple seniors on the offensive line. It's a mature group. We've been playing together for a few years. It's a cornerstone, really, of how the offense goes."

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