UGA's Friend: 'We've got a long way to go'

semerson@macon.comSeptember 27, 2012 

ATHENS - Georgia's offensive line has been getting raves from just about everyone this season. The exception, perhaps not surprisingly, is the man actually in charge of the unit.

Offensive line coach Will Friend was asked this week to evaluate his group, which has seemingly exceeded low preseason expectations and helped propel Georgia to a record start on offense.

"We've got a long way to go," Friend said. "And we ain't really done anything."

Friend laughed, then went on.

"We've got a couple skill players that are making some plays," he said. "You know, last week we had a guy, Todd (Gurley) had a really good game, Keith (Marshall) had a really good game. Aaron Murray's doing a great job. We're playing hard, okay? And they're showing some energy when they play. But we've got a long way to go on the little things. We're trying to get better every day."

Friend did acknowledge that his unit has been sound in its assignments.

"They're a really smart group," he said. "A little bit of it has to do with they've been around me for at least a year now. So probably I guess when you're around somebody you start realizing some of the things they say that may be a little bit different (in) what they mean. That type of deal. So that helps them."

Head coach Mark Richt was a bit more charitable than Friend in his assessment of the line. Richt harkened back to the dark days of the first few days of spring practice, when it looked, well, Richt can explain.

"If you watch that and then you watch them today, the difference is unbelievable. I know Coach (Will) Friend, Coach Bobo and myself and probably every other offensive coach were trying not to hang our heads, thinking we have some problems, we have some things we have to iron out. To their credit they have worked their tails off. The linemen knew we had some issues. All summer long they decided as a group to get up at the crack of dawn and be the first ones there in the weight room. They worked extremely hard with our strength staff. Going against the defensive front they were going against day after day after day they just had to get better or get embarrassed. They got better.

“I don’t know if they are the best offensive line in America, but they sure have made a lot of improvement, and they are playing well.”

Center David Andrews, whose development has been a key part to the line, basically echoed both Richt and Friend.

"I can definitely see why (Richt) said that. It was a rough couple first practices of spring," Andrews said. "I really think toward the end of spring we started getting it together. But it wasn't until camp that we really started playing good. We still have gotten better a sthe weeks have gone on, and we still have to get better. So it's an ongoing process. It's not like we've peaked or where we need to be."

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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