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April 30, 2009

Let's Hope the Herd Is the Word

I was listening to Colin Cowherd last week on ESPN Radio and he made an interesting observation: there is a correlation between a team's returning starts along its offensive line and success--"a returning offensive line equates to wins," as he put it.
He said that the two biggest surprise teams of 2008, Ole Miss and Utah, had over 90 career starts returning on their offensive line. Whereas, the three biggest disappointments in '08 who appeared in the preseason top ten, Georgia, Clemson, and Missouri, all returned less than 40 career starts on the offensive line.
I did some digging... Preseason #1 Georgia's offensive line in 2008 returned only 24 career starts: 13 from Chris Davis and 11 from Clint Boling.
While Cowherd talked, it dawned on me that not only do the Bulldogs return all five starters on the offensive line from last season but Trinton Sturdivant also returns--a starter in 2007 who was injured just prior to 2008. Certainly, I thought, Georgia returns a ton of starts along its offensive line for the upcoming season.
In fact, the Bulldogs return nine players (including Kiante Tripp, who apparently will play defensive end) who have started on the offensive line. They have combined to start in a whopping 102 games while at Georgia! A position breakdown of the nine returners:

Chris Davis (26 starts): 16 left guard, 7 right guard, 3 center; Clint Boling (23 starts): 13 right guard, 7 left tackle, 3 right tackle; Trinton Sturdivant (13 starts): 13 left tackle; Cordy Glenn (10 starts): 7 left guard, 3 right guard; Ben Jones (10 starts): 10 center; Justin Anderson (7 starts): 7 right tackle; Vince Vance (6 starts): 3 left guard, 3 left tackle; Josh Davis (4 starts): 4 right tackle; Kiante Tripp (3 starts): 3 left tackle

A breakdown by position: Left Tackle (26 starts): Sturdivant 13, Boling 7, Tripp 3, Vance 3; Left Guard (26 starts): C. Davis 16, Glenn 7, Vance 3; Center (13 starts): Jones 10, C. Davis 3; Right Guard (23 starts): Boling 13, C. Davis 7, Glenn 3; Right Tackle (14 starts): Anderson 7, J. Davis 4, Boling 3

How does Georgia's 102 starts compare to its upcoming schedule? Quite favorably. The following is a listing from highest to lowest of returning offensive line starts for 10 of the Bulldogs' 12 opponents in 2009 (Detailed information on Arizona State and Tennessee Tech was not readily available from their websites.), followed by (in parenthesis) the number of returning starters and the total number of players who have started at least one game on the offensive line:

Oklahoma State- 91 starts (3 returning OL starters, 3 players who have started on OL); Kentucky- 86 starts (3, 7); Tennessee- 80 starts (3, 4); LSU- 79 starts (3, 3); Vanderbilt- 67 starts (5, 7); South Carolina- 65 starts (4, 6); Auburn- 59 starts (3, 4); Georgia Tech- 52 starts (3, 4); Florida- 51 starts (3, 5); Arkansas- 43 starts (3, 5)

All 10 of these opponents return at least three offensive line starters, including all five by Vanderbilt (although none of these five Commodores' have started for more than one season). In comparison, you can see, how returning just 24 starts as the Dawgs did a year ago is considerably low. (Again, can someone please explain to me how we were the #1 preseason ranked team last year?!?)
I've been listening to Cowherd for four or five years and, much more often than not, he is correct in his assessments and predictions. Let's hope he is right on this subject and there is a direct correlation between Georgia's returning offensive linemen and the number of wins for the Bulldogs in '09. Now, if only Georgia can establish a dependable running game behind its experienced line...

3 comments:

BIG ALBANY DAWG said...

Dude, I like it! Nice stats too. diddo on the RB's.

dean said...

Nice post. I agree on the RB situation. The running back by committee is OK but we need a threat the defense has to respect. We'll also need another receiver to step up and help AJ. Mike Moore looked good late last season but I don't think he's a "break away" type receiver. Hopefully T. King, Troupe or one of the freshman will step up. With that said watch out for the TE's this year. It's looking like they'll have a big year.

Amanda said...

What an awesome line-up! good game.. Amanda Vanderpool CEO