“I’m not sure folks really understand how important the offensive line coach is,” he said. “That is someone has to be very, very good. I think Sam Pittman might be the best coach Kirby has hired on this staff.”
Some have gone as far as to say that Pittman’s hire helped lock up five-star QB Jacob Eason. I have it on pretty good authority that the hire helped quite a bit.
Why does offensive line play matter so much? Its a simple answer, but it might be the key to football: The offensive line protects the most important player on the field… the quarterback.
Without an offensive line of significance, UGA won’t do anything that matters. Alabama, leader in all things line of scrimmage, has made a dynasty out of very good offensive line play. As Kirby Smart has correctly and repeatedly pointed out: You are always going to be able to get great skill players at Georgia, but getting a great offensive line with depth is what will take the Dawgs to the next level.
“To pinpoint one spot - you have to play great on the line,” Smart said last week. “I think there are a lot of skill players within a five-hour radius of here, but you have to have great O-line and D-line, and that’s where we have to start with the building blocks to make this a great program.”
I can’t tell you how disappointing it was to see the confusing tactics employed last season on the offensive line at UGA. Greg Pyke losing his starting job near the end of the season was perhaps the best example that former OL coach Rob Sale was way, way over his head. It should have never gotten to that point with Pyke.
That’s why you don’t give inexperienced coaches the ability to hire their buddies. Sale, who's only coaching experience was as an offensive line coach was at McNeese State, is set to do the same thing at Louisiana-Monroe after being paid nearly a half a million dollars for his 12 months in Athens.
Multiple offensive linemen from the Dawgs’ 2015 team told me they thought Sale was in over his head. As it turns out he was for sure.
That’s why insiders are so excited about Sam Pittman. Arkansas called him “universally considered one of the nation’s best offensive line coaches and recruiters.” He’s coached high-level college football for the most part of the last two decades.
Offensive linemen are unique in football because they can be much more developed over time than other positions on the field. Running backs and receivers? Often what you see is what you get.
That’s really not the case with offensive linemen. They have to be built. They have to be developed. They have to be taught. They don’t have to perform a lot of skill, so usually they don’t get nervous. They have to confront the person in front of them and deal with them on an every-down basis. Defensive backs can go entire series without hitting the ground.
Offensive linemen live an alternant universe where their hands get dirty nearly every snap. They are the “building blocks” Smart is taking about.
David Andrews is the best example of what an offensive lineman can grow into if he's being properly developed. If you want a reminder of what he plays like you are welcome to watch the former three-star prospect play for the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game this coming weekend.
UGA needs more David Andrews and fewer Rob Sales.