Sept. 4, 2012
ATHENS --- Coming off of Georgia’s 45-23 opening weekend victory against Buffalo a lot of talk has been focused on the performances of freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. While the two rookies stole the headlines, a new look offensive line was helping to make it possible.
Featuring only two starters from January’s Outback Bowl, the new look Bulldogs built the foundations of Georgia’s 485 total offensive yards. They did however allow quarterback Aaron Murray to be sacked three times.
“I think we did an OK job, we definitely have some things we can improve on like keeping Aaron upright and giving him time,” Chris Burnette said. “I feel like we have the ability to do that, we’ve just got to get the communication right.”
Of the changes made to the line David Andrews replaced Ben Jones at center while John Theus and Dallas Lee (who did start seven games a year ago prior to an injury) got the start at right tackle and left guard, respectively. Burnette and Kenarious Gates were the two retuning starters from the bowl game.
“I think they did a pretty good job,” Burnette said of the newcomers. “I spoke to John [Theus] at halftime and said ‘You’re doing a good job, just keep it up, make sure you listen to the calls, just stay alert and try not to be overly excited.’ I think he did well and kept his poise and did a decent job.”
Burnette said that speaking to Theus at halftime is part of his efforts to become more of a leader in the trenches.
“I’m not necessarily the most vocal guy but I’ve pushed myself to be more of a vocal leader, as well as a guy who leads by example. That’s been good,” he said. “I feel like guys have been really trying to come together and push forward, not just behind one guy but together as a group.”
The group helped Gurley become the first freshman in his season-opening debut to record at least 100 yards since Danny Ware in 2004, while also allowing Marshall to pick up 51 yards on 10 carries.
Despite these impressive numbers, Burnette still wants the offensive line to improve in the run game.
“The running game was doing pretty good, we just want to be more aggressive and try to open up even more holes,” he said. “We know we’ve got guys that can break it open at any time.”
The performances on Saturday were the realization of a preseason camp that promised much, said Burnette.
“It has really just been an echo of what we’ve seen all camp,” he said. “Out there practicing we’ve seen times they’ll run through the defense and take it all the way but it doesn’t count for anything. Seeing it really happen in the game just shows all the hard work you’ve put in.”