Current Projection of Bulldogs No. 1 Offensive Line

Heading into Year 2 under offensive coordinator Todd Monken, one of the only questions remaining is who will start along the offensive line and where?

Once considered one of the best units in college football for three straight seasons under the direction of now Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman (former Georgia offensive line coach), Bulldogs fans have begun wondering how the offensive line has evolved after just one full season with Matt Luke at the helm?

In 2020, we saw a glimpse of what was to come under the direction of Luke and offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Their play-styles match up perfectly as both have a preference for recruiting smaller, more agile linemen. In addition, Luke and Monken need linemen with the ability to pull and get out in space in the run game and in the screen game, similar to what Alabama under Steve Sarkisian asked their linemen to do.

Average Weight of the Starting Offensive Line: Pittman vs. Luke

  • 2019: 332 pounds (Thomas, Kindley, Hill, Cleveland, Wilson)
  • 2020: 328 pounds (Salyer, Shaffer, Hill, Cleveland, McClendon)
  • Peach Bowl: 322 pounds (Truss, Salyer, Ericson, Shaffer, McClendon)

We've seen a 10-pound difference in the average weight of the offensive line when comparing the 2019 season's line to the one most recently seen in the Peach Bowl. Weight-wise, Luke is doing things differently than Pittman; the same could be said about blocking schemes and the overall expectation. Neither is right or wrong in this case, but it further proves the transformation seen up front. 

With three out of the five returning starting linemen from a year ago, Georgia is in a much better situation than compared to a year where Cleveland and Hill were the only returning starters; it just so happens both are now in the NFL, leaving the Bulldogs with Jamaree Salyer, Justin Shaffer and Warren McClendon. 

With Hill and Cleveland both missing the Peach Bowl, it gave valuable experience to Warren Ericson, who started in two games last season following an injury to Hill that sidelined him following the South Carolina game. At the same time, Cleveland opted not to participate in the Peach Bowl, which led to Xavier Truss starting at left tackle and Jamaree Salyer kicking back inside to left guard.

In some weeks, the unit looked top class in pass protection while failing to open up holes in the run game in 2020. The Peach Bowl was the worst performance of the season for a unit that featured three returning starters and two in-position battles for a spot: Ericson at center and Truss at left tackle.

Georgia came away from Atlanta with a Peach Bowl victory, yet no answer as to who will be at left tackle or what position Salyer will play in 2021. The Peach Bowl was Truss's first career start, and he struggled and was inconsistent in pass protection while showing flashes in the run game and screen game.

To make matters a little worse for the Dawgs, Salyer was limited in spring practice following surgery to repair damage in his knee, which meant we saw a starting five of: 

  • LT Xavier Truss
  • LG Justin Shaffer
  • C Warren Ericson
  • RG Tate Ratledge 
  • RT Warren McClendon

While the offensive line didn't give its best performance at the annual G-Day game, not much could and should be taken from the spring game, especially up front in the trenches without being able to look at the All-22 film that only folks at Georgia have access to.

With a Week-1 matchup against a top-five ranked Clemson Tigers team that boasts one of the best defensive lines in the country heading into the 2021 season, questions at left tackle — the blind side of JT Daniels — is not what is wanted. 

This is why the feeling around Athens is we will see Salyer start at left tackle in Game 1, but his position will be determined by the young talent competing for a spot at left tackle.

So here's Georgia's best starting offensive line as of right now: 

  • LT Jamaree Salyer 
  • LG Justin Shaffer
  • C Warren Ericson
  • RG Tate Ratledge 
  • RT Warren McClendon

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