Richt: Hawaii's O Line puts on a clinic

NEW ORLEANS – When Mark Richt watches film of Hawaii's offensive line, he thinks he's watching an instructional video. Or, at least, that's what he says.

"You could literally put a clinic on from that group," the No. 4 Bulldogs' head coach said Thursday before his team held its second practice in preparation for Tuesday's Sugar Bowl against the Warriors.

Hawaii, which starts a sophomore center and four upperclassmen on the offensive line, has surrendered just 27 sacks on 606 passing attempts this season. The Warriors' run-and-shoot offense takes a lot of pressure off their offensive line, said head coach June Jones, who suspects Richt is employing a little "coach-speak" when pumping up Hawaii's offensive line.

The Warriors have just one offensive lineman who weighs more than 300 pounds, left tackle Keith AhSoon. None of them are taller than 6-foot-3.

"If we were lining up in the I-formation and trying to hand the ball off, obviously (Georgia's) speed and power would overwhelm us," Jones said, "but because of what we do offensively and (quarterback Colt Brennan's) quick release, we have a chance."

To hear Georgia's coaches tell it, it's more than a chance.

"They are textbook in pass protection," Richt said. "When they slide one way or another, it's like a dance team or something, it's very well done."

Hawaii offensive line coach Dennis McKnight played the position for 10 years in the NFL and the professional influence shows, Georgia defensive line coach Rodney Garner said.

"I think they are the most athletic offensive line we've played, and it shows on film every snap," Garner said. "It's every single clip, and then you see how hard and physical they play. They are going to get after you. They play with a great tenacity."

Garner was particularly impressed after watching film from the Warriors' 25-17 loss to Alabama in the first game of 2006.

"Some of those things those offensive linemen were doing to their defensive linemen, it gets your attention," Garner said.

Jones remembers the Alabama game for a different reason. His offensive linemen didn't react very well to playing on a big stage early in that game, he said.

"Had we not been a little frozen in the first half, we might have beaten them," he said. "Hopefully, that will not happen (in this game)."

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