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Monday, August 18, 2008

Walking the Line

Mark Richt says the left-tackle carousel should come to a stop this week in favor of some continuity on the line leading up to the Georgia Southern game. Of course, that doesn't mean what is decided this week will be how the line looks in December, but at least we'll have some idea of how things could shake out.

So, for the sake of a nice Monday afternoon discussion topic, let's review the contenders for the job.

CORDY GLENN

His game: The freshman from Riverdale has quickly become a star of preseason camp. At 6-foot-5, 313 pounds, it's easy to see why coaches are intrigued, but it's how quickly he's learned the mental side of the game that has been truly impressive. Even before Trinton Sturdivant went down, Glenn was being touted by Richt as one of the most impressive freshmen in camp.

What they're saying: "We want Cordy to taste tackle, and in the beginning we were much more apt to think he was going to play tackle," Richt said. "But we were thinking he was going to be a backup. When he moved in at guard and played so well at guard, now he may win that job."

Odds of landing the gig: 12 to 1. There's a good chance Glenn is in the starting lineup against Georgia Southern, but it probably won't be at left tackle. Sturdivant proved last season a freshman can handle the role, but Glenn seems like a better fit at right guard for now.

KIANTE TRIPP

His game:
Perhaps the most athletic member of Georgia's O-linemen, Tripp was converted from the defensive side of the ball last year. He was penciled in as the starting right tackle when camp opened, but seemed like an obvious fit to move to the other side of the line when Sturdivant went down. Tripp has bulked up to nearly 290 pounds and could be an excellent fit at the most important position on the line.

What they're saying: "I played left in high school," Tripp said. "They switched me up left and right in high school, so they can switch me up here. It really doesn't matter."

Odds of landing the gig: 3 to 1. For the sake of consistency, Richt may want to keep Tripp where he is. Plus, if Glenn lands the right guard spot, having someone a bit more experienced at right tackle could be a plus. But Tripp's athleticism and ability make him a natural fit for the transition -- and transitions are something he has already proved he can handle well.

VINCE VANCE

His game:
At 6-8, 320, Vance is a beast. He played at both the guard and tackle positions in a reserve role last season. A knee injury limited him some, but ended Spring at No. 2 on the depth chart at LT last season. Physically, he can stand up to anything the defense throws at him, but his footwork needs some improvement.

What they're saying: "We really like what Vance has been doing at guard," Richt said. "We're trying not to disrupt that, but if we have to, we will."

Odds of landing the gig: 10 to 1. Vance has tons of talent, but it looks like coaches would rather limit what he needs to learn to one position until he has a bit better grasp on things. He could certainly find his way into the starting lineup at some point this season, but it's unlikely to happen in Week 1 and even more unlikely to happen at left guard.

JOSH DAVIS

His game:
Davis was listed at No. 2 on the depth chart behind Sturdivant prior to the injury and spent the first few days of camp afterward getting the majority of the first-team reps at LT. A 6-6 sophomore, Davis was sort of an afterthought on Georgia's deep O-line until Sturdivant went down, but Richt said he has shown improvement since the injury.

What they're saying: "I think his energy level moved up a notch thinking he might be the guy, and I liked what I saw," Richt said. "It's not like we said, Don't play Josh.' He's competing."

Odds of landing the gig: 5 to 1. No, Richt isn't saying "Don't play Josh," but if you read between the lines a bit, he's not saying to play him either. Davis could use a bit more development and probably isn't the long-term answer at left tackle for now. It wouldn't be surprising, however, to see him start Week 1 before giving way to someone else after that.

CLINT BOLING

His game:
The 6-5, 290-pound sophomore from Alpharetta has the most experience of the possible options at left tackle, having started 11 games last season and earning a nod on the SEC All-Freshman team. Ten of those games, however, were at right guard, where he was listed as the nominal No. 1 on the depth chart to start preseason camp. Further complicating matters is the fact that Boling will miss Georgia's first game of the season while serving a suspension.

What they're saying: "Boling is the one guy we thought could play either tackle or guard," Richt said. "If there were no injuries, he might have been the guy that was going to be the puddy guy, but everybody else was going to stick."

Odds of landing the gig:
2 to 1. Well, it won't be Boling vs. Georgia Southern, but he could be the man after that. If coaches decide to leave Tripp at right tackle, Davis could fill in for the first week, then Boling could earn the LT job after that. His mix of talent, knowledge and experience makes him a good fit for the position, and Glenn's quick development made him expendable on the right side anyway.

So, what do you think? Who would you start at left tackle? What would be your ideal starting line, given who's still healthy? Where do players like Bean Anderson, Ben Jones and Tanner Strickland fit in?

7 comments:

Bop said...

This is a really good post. It's nice to finally have all this quality depth (albeit young and inexperienced) at Oline. Georgia sure did hit a home run in evaluating the talent of Sturdivant and Boling last year...looks like it happened again with Glenn and Jones.

RedCrake said...

I like Boling at LT, Glenn at RG (still cross training at LT with his size and ability to quickly learn - he had a GPA above 3.0 during summer session and I think I remember him having a high GPA in high school -- maybe somewhere between 3.5 and 3.8 ), and Tripp remaining at RT. Any possible consistency is key in this time of turmoil.

I don't think playing Davis against GSU will be a problem since I see Moreno and King/Samuel ramming it down their throat as much as possible.

Anonymous said...

Agree with bop - Great post David. Everyone understandably talks about the concerns on the O-line, but there is a heck of a lot of talent there.

By the way, no one ever seems to mention Chris Little. I know he was hampered by injury last year. What's going on this year? Is he just not panning out? I remember him being as highly recruited as anyone.

ChicagoDawg said...

It is quite a luxury to have quality depth across the line -- something that has historically been in short supply. It would be interesting to know what the story is with Bean Anderson. Seemingly, it was his starting gig to lose going into Fall camp -- even before Sturdivant went down. Here we are 2 weeks out, 2 men down (#77 for the season and #60 for the first game) and he is likely to end up 2nd string. I wonder if it is lack of intensity, inconsistency or just getting beat by the better man (i.e. Vance & Glenn). I thought early on the coaches were using the Glenn cheerleading to keep Glenn's head in the game, but primarily to rattle Anderson and bit and get him motivated.

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely a fantastic read! Thanks so much! The true difference in evaluation of high school talent on the line has come from Coach Searles. The O line coach we had before him was more interested in getting DUI's than evaluating and coaching up talent. Now if only Coach Eason can develop receiving talent up rather than down.

BCDawg97 said...

Gotta be Boling or Tripp. I'd say Boling (if he's the overall second best lineman after TS), but he was a guard and already has to sit one game, so we're already going to have one set playing against Southern and then introduce a new person for the 2nd no matter what. So why mess with the most important line position? The "benefit" of the TS injury is the timing - set the line and let them gel starting RIGHT NOW. Give Tripp a head start at LT (and then why would you move him after he gets real game experience at the position?). Glenn (for sure) and Vance (for now he seems to be getting the most love from the coaches) as guards - big bodys on the DTs who both seem to be learning better by sticking with one position. You know Boling's gonna start somewhere so RT seems to be able to handle a little more flux, so put Josh Davis there against Southern and then insert Boling permanently at RT against CMich (you want you other best lineman at tackle so he's a fit here). JDavis gets some game experience and is your backup for both tackles.

richtfan said...

David,

how about (post GSU) boling at lt backed up by Glenn. tripp at rt, bean at lg, davis or vance at lg and jones at center?