ATHENS -- Almost every analysis of Georgias chances in 2012 go something like this: The Bulldogs have a stacked defense, a veteran quarterback and an easy schedule, so they have a real shot at a championship -- as long as the offensive line can hold together.
The concern is not unwarranted. Gone are three starters who were all drafted into the NFL. The remaining group has no seniors and very little continuity from last seasons lineup.
A lot of people probably dont think were capable of being a just good enough offensive line, right guard Chris Burnette said. But I think we can. I think we can be better than that. I think we can be great.
That seems like a stretch. But Georgia will just settle for good -- in which case the team has a chance to be great.
Burnette is the lone man projected to start at the same position he had at the end of last season. Left guard Dallas Lee was hurt for the latter half of the season but is back.
So the fortunes of the line depend on three key players:
Kenarious Gates, a junior who has started most of the past two years at guard but is now moving to the critical left tackle spot.
David Andrews, a sophomore who is now starting at center and is admittedly shorter than the defensive tackles he will face.
John Theus, an elite offensive tackle recruit. Theus has earned a starting spot, and Georgia is depending on him being as good as advertised.
And, of course, the Bulldogs have to avoid the injury bug, especially since there seems a steep drop-off from the first to the second team. The good news for the Bulldogs is they pinpointed their top six players (including sophomore Watts Dantzler, who can play tackle and guard) early in preseason practice.
They are beginning to play together well and jell, head coach Mark Richt. Overall, guys are I think improving.