ATHENS - For all the attention that the improved play of Georgia's defense has received, another unit's production has been overlooked: The offensive line.
There were no sacks given up by the line against Florida, for only the second time this season. And there were enough running lanes for tailback Todd Gurley to amass 118 yards.
"We struggled here and there. But I thought it was probably one of our best games, considering the opponent and things like that," sophomore center David Andrews said. "We shot ourselves a couple times in the red zone here and there. But we had a good game. We've still got a long way to go to where we want to be."
The line, unlike the defense, was expected to be a concern this year. In the team's biggest test, at South Carolina, the Bulldogs were overwhelmed, with Aaron Murray being sacked twice and having little time to throw the rest of the way. The running game was also missing. Then a week later at Kentucky, Murray was sacked three times.
Much like the defense, there was some outside motivation for the front five: Andrews indicated they were tired of hearing about being too soft. (Sound familiar?)
"Playing line, we don't get the big hits, or things like that. But there's other ways we can be physical and we can win the physical battle, and I think we did," Andrews said. "I think we were more physical than them last week, and I think that says a lot, and shows what we can do, and what we should do week to week."
Here's what Murray said when asked whether the offense needs extra motivation, or emotion, to play well:
"I think it depends on who on offense. Offensive line want to play with that chip on their shoulder, and want to play nasty and knocking guys around. And defense of course, you want to be flying around, knocking guys around. As a quarterback and receivers, you've gotta be more finesse at times, and grounded and relaxed. ... The offensive line had probably their best game of the year this weekend."
Head coach Mark Richt said the pass blocking against Florida was better than he expected, while the run blocking was as good as hoped. He pointed out that Gurley had a number of runs between four and seven yards that were stopped by the safety.
“I thought the line blocked well. I won’t say it was any kind of a dominating performance, but I thought they blocked well," Richt said.
Of course, the hope for Georgia is that it wasn't just a one-week uptick, and rather the natural progression of a line that is gelling together.
"It's just starting to click for us," Andrews said. "Unfortunately it's been awhile. But it's starting to click and it shows the potential we do have. I think a lot of us kind of took it personal, people talking bad about the offensive line, or the offense, or the team in general. So we were just ready to go, and ready to send a point."
Injury note: Andrews hurt his knee during the second quarter against Florida. He played through it and said he'll be fine for the Ole Miss game, for which he's already been named a captain.