It’s no secret that Sam Pittman arrived in Athens in 2016 with a commission to make the Georgia offensive front tougher, deeper, and bigger. While toughness remains hard to measure, bigness we can track.
And if sheer size is the measure of Pittman’s success, the Bulldog offensive line coach is headed for the Hall of Fame. A look at Georgia’s recently released 2018 roster renders the following eye-popping observations:
Georgia’s scholarship offensive linemen average 321.75 pounds apiece. That’s the largest offensive line in Bulldog history, as best I can tell.
If the Dawgs’ starting lineup is center Lamont Gaillard (308), guards Ben Cleveland (335) and Kendall Baker (305), and tackles Andrew Thomas (320) and Isaiah Wilson (340), the Great Wall of Georgia would clock in at an average of 321.6 pounds.
With guys like Justin Shaffer (330), Trey Hill (330), Netori Johnson (320), Warren Ericson (305), and Solomon Kindley (335) vying for snaps as well, it’s conceivable that the Red and Black could field two complete five-man rotations averaging over 320 pounds, and without a single player under three bills. That’s some hefty depth, in more ways than one.
The Classic City Canines have precisely one offensive lineman on the roster under 300 pounds: senior walk on Sean Fogarty, who tips the scales at a dainty 295 pounds. Fogarty saw action in nine games at center in 2017 despite being so tiny.
It should be noted of course that size alone doesn't guarantee success. And success up front is possible without being the size of a Buick SUV. Isaiah Wynn was a first team All-SEC tackle in 2017, is currently cashing a first round draft pick’s check from the New England Patriots, and never played at over 302 pounds while in Athens. He’s of course joined in Boston by center David Andrews, a perennial NFL starter and (relatively) diminutive 295 pounds.
Wynn and Andrews both excelled because they were fierce competitors and (especially in Wynn’s case) criminally underrated technicians. Wynn’s feet, hip bend, and use of leverage was good enough to be used in offensive line instructional videos, and Andrews’ understanding of angles at the center spot makes him a difficult matchup for defenders. Those things don’t show up on a scale. It also remains to be seen whether this crop of big, young Dawgs is conditioned well enough to win the fourth quarter.
But make no mistake, all other things being equal, the larger players on Georgia’s offensive front are there for a reason. They are all part of Sam Pittman and Kirby Smart’s plan to be able to maul and wear down opposing defenses. As Bear Bryant used to point out, “"quick guys get tired, but big guys don't shrink.” Until later...