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Offensive line clips: Room for improvement.


Craig Lawson
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As I was re-watching the Samford game there were a couple of offensive line plays in the first half that stuck out to me. 

Before we dive into the first clip I'd like to point out that while, as an FCS program, Samford does not have an SEC caliber defense, they do have players with SEC frames. I took the liberty of listing the on-field defenders from the first clip below. Some of them have experience playing in Power 5 programs having transferred from schools such as Michigan State, Wake Forest and Auburn. They also have one defender on the field who transferred from Rice which is a Group of 5 program on the FBS level. Classes get convoluted with the Covid exception, but so far as I can tell, all but a couple of the defenders listed below are at least 4th year players, with several 5th and at least one 6th year player. 

44 Tay Berry DT 6-2 281 Gr.
99 Seth Simmer DT 6-4 302 Gr.
35 Joseph Mera DE 6-2 257 Sr.
45 Thomas Neville LB 6-3 209 Jr.
32 Noah Martin LB 6-1 224 Jr.
5 Nathan East LB 6-2 227 Gr.
27 Trey Elston CB 6-1 195 Sr.
21 Isaiah Richardson DB 6-1 204 Sr.
4 Ty Hardimon S 6-0 201 Sr.
15 Emmanuel Flowers S 6-2 199 Gr.
38 Fred Flavors DB 5-9 153 Jr.


I didn't do a deep dive into Samford's roster, and this isn't every defender that lined up against Georgia on Saturday. But, I wanted to point out that this was an experienced group of full framed college football players. That doesn't excuse the shortcomings that we saw from Georgia's offense, but it might help explain how a team from a lower division was able to frustrate a Georgia offense who had a down week after naming it's score against a ranked Pac 12 opponent just a week prior. 

Now on to the clips. Note: I wasn't able to embed short clips, so we're just focusing on the first play from each of the videos below. 

In this first play we're looking at Amarius Mims, a former 5 star, in at right tackle. Mims is a second year player who has been rotating in with the first team offense during games. At the snap, we see Mims kick back into a pass blocking set, but he never manages to engage a defender, and by the time Stetson Bennett checks the ball down to Kenny McIntosh in the flat, Mims is in quicksand. He ends off the play by jogging downfield. Mims is already getting first round projections from NFL scouts, and he would be starting at most any other program in the country. I'm not sharing this to disparage a talented young player, but these are easy fixes in the film room. I won't pretend to know the protection call or the keys that Mims has been instructed to read and react to, but I would imagine offensive line coach, Stacey Searels, would want Mims to punch down on the interior given that no defenders crossed his face at the snap. I would also imagine that he would expect a better effort of getting downfield and putting his helmet on somebody. #45 for Samford had an angle and opportunity to bring McIntosh down, but he didn't have the ability. An SEC linebacker would have potentially made that stop, and Mims is the kind of athlete who can get out in front and nullify tackle attempts.     

Moving on:

On this play we'll focus on the right guard spot. Redshirt sophomore, Devin Willock, has been battling it out for playing time at both guard positions, most notably left guard, but we've seen him play both so far this season. At the snap Willock pulls to the left and slips through two defenders en route to engaging nobody and turning to watch Brock Bowers get swallowed up for a short gain on the shuttle pass. In the film room, a coach might joke that they should have given the ball to Willock with the way he managed to avoid contact with any would be tackler. Again, I'm not down on this kid. The coaches seem to think he has a great deal of potential despite not being one of the higher ranked prospects in the 2020 recruiting class, and they've backed that up by putting him on the field. This is another fixable issue. It comes down to discipline, technique, awareness and mentality. 

Georgia has youth and inexperience taking most of the snaps at the guard spots, and Willock isn't the only player who struggled at that position on Saturday. There is a lot of talent in that room so Coach Searels should have the tools he needs to figure out who the best combination will be. Mims for his part, has the ability to supplant a reliable starter at one of the tackle spots if he gets to a point where he's simply too good to keep off the field. Broderick Jones and Warren McClendon are two future NFL players, but Mims may be the most physically gifted of them all. 

Here's to hoping the issues get cleared up in practice this week. Go Dawgs!

 

Edited by Craig Lawson

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