An already shallow corps of offensive linemen at UGA has been reduced to kiddie-pool depth with the departure of redshirt freshman Brent Benedict on Sunday. The Dawgs are now down to 13 scholarship O-linemen, five of whom are brand-spankin’-new freshmen, one of whom (Xzavier Ward) won’t be available this season due to a knee injury.
Rumors indicate that Benedict was unhappy with the workout regimen installed by first-year strength and conditioning coach Joe Tereshinski II. And the message boards will certainly be full of acrimonious debates over whether the responsibility for the current situation lies with Tereshinski, previous S&C coach Dave Van Halanger, former O-line coach Stacy Searels, or some combination of the three.
But that speculation doesn’t do much to help current line coach Will Friend, who will more than likely end up drafting the O-line contingent of this year’s “Dream Team” recruiting class into service much more quickly than he expected. True freshman Watts Dantzler, a tackle whose dad played O-line at Georgia in the early ‘70s, is now a virtual lock to get some playing time this season; at 6’7", 330, he’s already got the size the Dawgs need and is in good shape as well. Fellow tackle recruit Zach DeBell, meanwhile, goes from “redshirt candidate” to “likely to see playing time” himself; at only 265 pounds, DeBell definitely has some bulking-up to do before he can take the field, but the Bulldogs’ coaching staff now has more incentive than ever to bring him along as quickly as possible.
The situation isn’t utterly hopeless: Georgia faced a similarly dire depth situation in 2008 — which, like 2011, involved Trinton Sturdivant being taken out of the equation early — and still managed to win 10 games, giving up only 17 sacks all season and paving the way for a thousand-yard season from Knowshon Moreno. The difference, of course, is that the Dawgs don’t have any proven Knowshons on the roster this year, and Mark Richt was no doubt hoping for a strong performance from the line to give blue-chip RB recruit Isaiah Crowell a chance to succeed early. For his sake, let’s hope the “big uglies” from the Dream Team manage to grow up in a hurry.