Offensive line a question mark for Richt

Richt said while the offensive line's readiness for the upcoming season is in question; their wiliness to work is not.

Will this season's offensive line be ready when the fall rolls around? The mammoth task of developing a young offensive line in what seems like no time has been throw upon offensive line coach Neil Callaway and head coach Mark Richt.

No one knows for sure if the line will come together before the first game with Clemson, not even Richt himself.

"The linemen are talented enough," said Richt of his crew,  "there are no mistakes by the scholarship players. They can all get the job done."

But while the players are skillful enough to eventually develop into a powerful force, right now time, something that Georgia have very little of, will be the determining factor according to Richt, in the development of this young line's ability this season.

"It just takes time to get good up front," he said.  "Not only as an individual, but as a group. It just takes time."

The offensive linemen that need time to develop are: Russ Tanner, Randall Swoopes (both battling for the starting center position), Josh Brock, Bartley Miller (the number one guards going into spring), Reggie Weeks (who will likely back up Miller and Brock at the guard), Max Jean-Gilles, Dennis Roland (the tackles coming into the spring), and Daniel Inman (backing up Roland).

No player on the offensive line has more than one season of experience and most did not play significant minutes in 2002. The future looks bright for this group, but for the time being Richt is concerned.

Richt said that inexperience on the offensive line is the worst place to be green for a football team. He said that it the learning curve for young offensive linemen is comparable to that of young quarterbacks.

Richt said that "it may be harder" to become accustomed as a lineman in college than as a quarterback. "Linemen have to grow up physically too (in comparison to quarterbacks). There's rarely a guy that is physically ready (when young)," he said.

"A lot of quarterbacks have the passing skills and they may be big enough and it is a big time mental game for them," said Richt. For linemen it is different: "But for the linemen, they have it from all angles trying to get ready," he said.

Richt uses a learning curve to measure how far along players have come in development. He said that he is not certain about where this line's position on that learning curve will be in the future.
"Where will we be on that learning curve when the season starts?" he asked himself. "I don't know."

Richt said while the offensive line's readiness for the upcoming season is in question; their wiliness to work is not.

"They all compete hard and they fight hard and they are willing participants," he said.

However, the question of the offseason, which will undoubtedly become the question of the fall, reared its ugly head one last time.

"But will they be ready? That's the number one question about our football team. Will the linemen be ready?" he said.

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