Georgia coach Mark Richt won't know for sure until he goes back and looks at the film, but based on what he saw during the Bulldogs' 41-14 win over Tennessee his revamped offensive line held its own.
It's been a rough year for assistant coach Stacy Searels, whose offensive line was projected to be one of the best in the SEC.
Instead, it's been a season of physical and mental breakdowns, mistakes which led Searels to making a couple of notable changes for Saturday's game against the Volunteers - starting Trinton Sturdivant at left tackle and true freshman Kenarious Gates at right guard.
"Gates played well from what I could see and also from what you could listen to," Richt said. "When you've got on that headset you can hear Coach Searels go ballistic about something, usually he'll call out who it was and I really never heard his name."
Senior Clint Boling had a bird's eye view of Gates' performance.
With Sturdivant at left tackle, Boling slid over to right tackle where he started over senior Josh Davis who had opened the Bulldogs' first five games. Cordy Glenn opened at left guard and Ben Jones at center.
"I thought Kenarious played well. Obviously he's going to make some freshman mistakes but he played a great game," Boling said. "I asked him before the game if he was a little bit nervous. He said yeah and I told him, 'OK, that's fine for the first play but after that you've got to get those out.' But no, I think he played well. I couldn't he was nervous at all."
Richt explained that Searels and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo took steps to ensure that Gates would not be overwhelmed playing in his first collegiate game.
"They (Tennessee) played a lot more what is called "Double-Eagle" where they cover your center and both of your guards. I think they wanted to put pressure on our guards because it usually creates a lot of one-on-one blocks," Richt said. "But what we did was slide our protection and allow our backs to block some of their bigger men in the protection which helped us not put Kenarious in a bad situation down after down after down."
Statistically, there were few complaints.
Although Georgia rushed for a modest 136 yards (3.8 yards per carry), the Bulldogs were excellent with their pass protection allowing just two sacks.
"I think Coach Richt this week wanted to have physical practices and we did that and it showed today. Kenarious has been working in and out with the ones," Boling said. "He's showed Coach Searels a lot; hopefully he will continue to play well."
As for Sturdivant, the junior who is coming off two ACL surgeries made his first start since the 2009 opener at Oklahoma State.
Boling said he played the entire game.
"I think he did play the whole game expect maybe for one play," Boling said. "That's awesome for him to come back and get his first start since all his injuries. I think everybody played well."
Boling's start at right tackle was the first time he has opened at that position this year after making six starts there in 2009.
"It's nothing new for me," Boling said. "I've played all over the place so I'm used to it by now."
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