Bulldogs still seeking a couple good guards

semerson@macon.comApril 1, 2014 

Offensive line coach Will Friend.

PAUL ABELL — UGA sports communications

ATHENS - Two weeks into spring practice, Georgia's offensive line looks a lot like it did when it started: The center is the "bell cow," the tackles are settling in, and the guards are anyone's guess.

Georgia lost both its starting guards after last season, and offensive line coach Will Friend made clear Tuesday that no one has done anything yet to grab one of the open spots. Greg Pyke, a redshirt sophomore who has played sparingly thus far in his career, has come the closest.

"Nobody's kind of stepped up and said they want to be the guards yet," Friend said. "Pyke's had a good spring, and I think he'll get better as we go through it. But we're not performing the way we need to inside right now."

It hasn't helped that Brandon Kublanow, who got playing time at right guard as a freshman, has been hurt. He missed Tuesday's practice with a hyperextended elbow. Kublanow and Mark Beard began the spring as the tentative first-team guards. But Beard is working again at tackle, where he was the top backup last year.

Friend is still experimenting: Zach DeBell, who has worked between tackle and guard, was moved back to guard this week. That's partly a reaction to the struggles at guard.

Watts Dantzler, another rising senior, was hoping to contend for a starting spot at guard or tackle, but he's been slowed lately by injuries. He's been out since sustaining a concussion in Thursday's practice.

At tackle, John Theus and Kolton Houston are in good shape on first team. But behind them there's been some flux, and Friend said his plan is to play three tackles in games. Beard and Dantzler are therefore in contention to be that third tackle.

"The tackles have had pretty good springs," Friend said, adding that center David Andrews has also "played his butt off this spring. But we haven't been what we need to be inside."

That means that there could be an opening for Dyshon Sims, Isaiah Wynn, Jake Edwards or Kendall Baker, the four incoming freshmen. Friend said he told his current players when spring practice began that they better take advantage before the new guys arrive.

"A bunch of you have a shot this spring," Friend said he told his players. "And if we don't see things like we need to in the spring then it'll be the guys' who get here's chance. So they kind of know that. Those guys were recruited to give them an opportunity, and we'll give them a shot.

"Now if we can get some guys going ... There's still eight days left, I guess we're halfway there."

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