Quick Hitters: Russ Tanner

He's the center of the offense. His hands touch the ball more than any other player on Georgia's offense.

Russ Tanner is instrumental in Georgia's playmaking abilities. But lately Georgia's offense has not been able to connect on big plays.

"You always want to throw the deep ball just to stretch the defense out," he said.

One of the differences in the 2003 team and the 2002 team is that this year's young offensive line has needed to use maximum protection in order for David Greene to throw the ball. That means that fewer offensive weapons can be sent downfield to attack.

"As an offensive lineman you don't mind maximum protection because it makes your job a little easier. But we need to be able to pick up the defense's rush with fewer guys to give Greene a chance to make the deep throw," said Tanner.

"It's all fun when you score. I don't favor run blocking over pass protection. Whichever is working is fine with me," said Tanner.

Two weeks ago against Florida running the ball worked for the Dawgs. But this week against Auburn, Georgia will look to get a more balanced attack going against the Tigers. David Greene threw for only 188 yards against the Gators; his worst performance of the season.

But Greene was getting pressured a lot against Florida, which is something that Tanner hopes will change this week.

"It's a huge challenge. They are as good as anyone that we have played this year. Their pass rush is really good and their linebackers are really good. They present a very big challenge for us. We are going to try to step up this week," Tanner said.

The challenge that is Auburn is compounded for Tanner and company this week as guard Bartley Miller's status is not set in stone. Georgia head coach Mark Richt said that Miller will probably not play. That means that Tanner and three other players might have to rotate as guards during the game.

"They tell us all to be ready to play each week," Tanner said. "We are going to be short a man and we are going to have to move around a bit. We just try to all be as prepared as possible so that when we get into the game we can just play and not have to worry about it," he said.

Tanner improved greatly from 2003 spring practice to the first game against Clemson. Offensive line coach Neil Callaway and Richt both said that they were pleased with the way that he had become a leader on the line. Still, Tanner and the rest of the offensive line are going through growing pains.

"We still have a long way to go," he said. "I don't think that there is anyone on any level that can't grow any more. We are no different we have a long way to go."

"This is a big game and its special because we want to win the SEC. In order to do that we have to beat Auburn," Tanner explained.

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