ATHENS -- This preseason is a lot less chaotic than last year for Georgias offensive line. Thats saying something, considering this years team has to replace three starters now in the NFL.
But thanks to the efforts of last spring, and the addition of a talented freshman, line coach Will Friend believes he has a good handle on who will comprise his front five.
Yeah, weve got it kind of narrowed down, Friend said after Sundays practice, the fourth of Georgias preseason.
Friend named six players who will play: Junior Kenarious Gates (at left tackle or guard), Chris Burnette (right guard), Dallas Lee (left guard), David Andrews (center), Watts Dantzler (guard or tackle) and John Theus (right tackle).
The main issue right now seems to be whether Theus or Dantzler will win the right tackle spot. But Dantzler could move to guard if he outperforms Lee.
The other priority for Friend is finding one or two more linemen who can be the top reserves.
I think weve kind of got a little bit of what were trying to do and who the people are gonna be, Friend said. Last year, it was here and there and all over the place.
Grantham impressed with OLBs
There was a reason Georgia moved one starter and a top reserve from outside linebacker to defensive end.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Sunday he feels really good about his outside linebackers, and not just All-American Jarvis Jones. The team has three freshmen recruits whom Grantham said should all contribute this year: Jordan Jenkins, Josh Dawson and James DeLoach.
Jenkins seems to be the most impressive of them, as Grantham called him one of the most explosive guys in the country as a freshman coming in.
But a sophomore has also made a big leap. Ramik Wilson seems poised to start at outside linebacker opposite of Jones.
Oh yeah, Grantham answered. Hes good. Hes explosive off the edge, hes instinctive, hes got power. And as an inside guy hes got very good cover ability. Hes a good player.
Cornelius Washington, last years first-team outside linebacker, and Ray Drew, who stepped in for Washington for two games, are both playing defensive end now.
The defensive freshman most likely to redshirt is nose tackle Jonathan Taylor. Grantham said they plan to develop Taylor, because hes behind two players -- Kwame Geathers and John Jenkins -- who arent likely to leave the lineup.
In a mild surprise, former walk-on Connor Norman has an edge over Corey Moore to be the top safety reserve. Thats according to secondary coach Scott Lakatos, who cautioned that it could always change after a scrimmage.
Lakatos wouldnt set a pecking order at cornerback between Malcolm Mitchell, Damian Swann and Branden Smith. (Top cornerback Sanders Commings is suspended for the first two games.)
All three of those guys are really good, Lakatos said. Were really excited about how talented they all are. Malcolms doing an exceptional job of learning, and he gets better every day. Just like all of them.