Andrews is coming up big for Georgia

semerson@macon.comNovember 16, 2012 

ATHENS -- The Georgia offensive line still has its issues. It still might be the team’s biggest concern, and the man who coaches the unit is still stingy with praise.

Except when it comes to David Andrews.

He was supposed to be too short to be an SEC center. Perhaps he was too inexperienced. He came from too small of a high school.

Instead, as Georgia prepares for the stretch run with Saturday’s game against Georgia Southern, it is Andrews who has emerged as the most dependable player on an otherwise inconsistent offensive line.

“He’s been the most consistent,” offensive line coach Will Friend said. “He’s playing good right now, and we’ve gotta keep that going.”

This past week, Andrews was named the SEC’s offensive lineman of the week. It’s still going to be awhile before the sophomore is considered for anything more than that, but Andrews has at least avoided the false start penalties and lineup juggling that Friend has had to employ.

Andrews was a curious choice when the Bulldogs pegged him as the heir apparent to Ben Jones, now a starting guard for the Houston Texans. Andrews was a three-star recruit out of the Wesleyan School in Norcross and is listed at 6-foot-2 and 295 pounds. Jones, by comparison, is 6-3 and 303.

But the coaches felt confident in Andrews, who goes by “Boss” around the team.

“There was never any doubt in my mind that Boss could play in this league. Or anybody else in our room’s mind,” Friend said. “He’s very intelligent. He’s been a good leader. He was able to kind of work under Ben and kind of see how that role needs to be, and he’s kind of taken it on. He’s doing a great job.”

“I think I’ve proved some people wrong,” Andrews said this week. “But it’s not about that. I’d rather see the team do good than me do good. Because at the end those are gonna be the memories that stick with you the longest time.”

Nose tackle John Jenkins has been battling with Andrews since last spring, the pair matched against each other in drills and team practices. At first, by everyone’s account, Andrews struggled, but it might have prepared him well for the rigors of SEC play.

Jenkins laughs when asked about Andrews’ size.

“I didn’t know the height requirement of being the center,” Jenkins said. “I thought you had to be low to gravity and be able to snap the ball. Man I don’t know. David Andrews is showing that he’s capable of playing at this level.”

As for the rest of the line, that remains a work in progress. Right tackle John Theus is the only player who has started at the same spot all year, and he has been prone to a number of freshman mistakes. Right guard Chris Burnette also has been solid, but he has been hurt the past couple of weeks and is questionable for Saturday’s game.

The left side of the line has been in a lot of flux. Whereas last year Friend picked a starting five early and stuck with it, this year there has been more tinkering.

“I would love to play 10 guys, to be honest with you,” Friend said. “It’s kind of the same thing (with) good defensive lines. When you play against a good team on defense, their front is constantly (rotating). I would like to do that. I don’t have 10 guys.”

Lately, the statistics indicate the line is performing better. The Bulldogs are on pace to allow fewer sacks than last year, and the rushing yards also have increased.

But Friend calls all that “a team deal.” And he starts ticking off the success at the other offensive positions: Freshmen tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have been “outstanding,” receivers coach Tony Ball has done a good job coaching his unit to be better blockers, and quarterback Aaron Murray is getting the ball off quicker.

“So was all that on those guys last year? And is it this year? I don’t know,” Friend said. “It’s kind of (that) we’re all in this together. That’s kind of how we look at it. We have goals that we don’t want to give up sacks and those things. That all can change in one week, as we all know.”

But Andrews does think his unit is getting it together.

“We’re definitely starting to really, really click. And we knew we could do it,” Andrews said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do and a long way to go.”

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