Line now considered a strength of Dawgs

ATHENS – The offensive line's improvement was certainly seen on the field as well as on the stat sheet in 2004 when compared with 2003.

In 2003, the Bulldogs, a young group of offensive linemen, allowed David Greene to be sacked nearly 50 times. It was something that drew criticism from their head coach as well as Neil Callaway, who serves as both the offensive line coach and the offensive coordinator.

Much of the problem the young Bulldogs had was youth itself, but their struggles with injuries figured into the equation as well. By the end of the 2003 season, Georgia had used four different starting lineups on the offensive line. That meant once every three or four games a new group was working together – sometimes with players in unnatural positions or positions they had not played the game before.

But only once, against Vanderbilt, was the Bulldog rotation different in 2004. Max Jean Gilles moved to his natural guard spot, and Russ Tanner was allowed to stay at center all season long.

"I think we made a lot of improvement from 2003 to 2004," said Callaway. "I still think we have a lot of room for improvement with the guys that played last year. We do need to get some depth behind those players."

"We still didn't accomplish our goal of protecting the quarterback like we had hoped to," said senior Max Jean-Gilles. "But we did to a better job – we cut the sacks almost in half."

The Bulldogs have depth in the form of former starters returning from injury as well as younger players that may be making their move to more playing time this season.

"We have Bartley Miller and Josh Brock back unless something happens. We may ease Bartley into things because of him having four surgeries on his shoulder. We plan on putting Josh in there from the get-go and see what happens. Fernando Velasco needs to step up and play better, and Chester Adams at tackle (needs to step up) too," said Callaway.

All things considered, Callaway likes the situation he's in now compared to where the Bulldog line was in the spring of 2003.

"It's always nice to have guys returning. I thought two years ago, when we were really young, that we could be pretty good. I wasn't worried about the youth so much back then, but then the injures really handicapped us. It is nice to have everyone coming back. We are going to put the best five players on the field."

Neil Callaway with Chester Adams


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