Georgia has five starters returning on its offensive line, but as the kickoff against Clemson draws closer, it increasingly looks as if the those five won’t start Game 1.
That mainly has to do with Kolton Houston returning from NCAA banishment. The junior suddenly seems entrenched as the No. 1 right tackle. John Theus, last season’s starter at that spot, has split time with Houston at right tackle throughout preseason camp, but has worked more at right guard in the final week.
“Lately I’ve just been (playing) right tackle,” Houston said this week. “The competition has been good. We’ve all done well in camp. I guess we’ll just see who plays when it comes down to the game.”
Also contributing to the shakeup is the health of right guard Chris Burnette. The senior and 24-game starter had offseason shoulder surgery. He’s been back all camp and insists he’s OK to play every snap if needed. But he has missed numerous practices — including Monday’s — as a precaution against fatiguing the shoulder.
“For the most part I’m going to try to play every down,” Burnette said. “In practice I try to do the same thing, but I kind of leave it to the coaches and the training staff.”
Houston, Theus and junior Watts Dantzler have filled in for Burnette at right guard. But as the preseason progressed, Dantzler worked increasingly on the left side, and Theus got more reps at guard.
“Honestly, it varies from day to day,” Theus said. “There’s no real set rotation. It just varies from day to day based on what (assistant coach Will Friend) feels. … If Coach puts me in at right guard I’d feel comfortable about it. I’ve gotten a lot of reps there.”
What makes that particularly interesting is right tackles generally are some of the bigger players on any offensive line. Houston is currently listed at 6-foot-5, 280 pounds. Theus (6-6, 298) and Dantzler (6-7, 320) are larger.
“I think the best thing that I have is quick feet,” Houston said. “I’m a little lighter, a little smaller. But I’m athletic, and I have good feet and that overcomes the big part of it.”
For his part, Theus has displayed an exceptional attitude about having to share playing time after rarely coming off the field last season.
“Everybody wants to play every down, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “But when you step back and look at it, when you have a rotation going, whether you’re in there for 20 percent of the reps or 80 percent of the reps, you’re fresher for 100 percent of the reps. You can see what Coach is doing. You can see he’s trying to help us. Having that depth and guys who can rotate in is going to be beneficial to us.”
Murray’s new eyes: Some Georgia fans might find it more than a little unsettling to learn that quarterback Aaron Murray recently was prescribed contact lenses for the first time. They were bothering him Tuesday when he spoke to reporters at the Bulldogs’ weekly media luncheon. But he insists there no reason for concern. He won’t be using them in games.
“My eyes aren’t that bad,” he said. “It’s just for class. … The words (on the board) are just easier to see.”
The natural question then is whether Murray should wear them on the football field.
“I see fine,” he said. “I can see safeties. I can see colors. No excuses because of my eyes.”
If he throws an interception, Murray said, “It’s just me being an idiot.”
Etc.: Georgia coach Mark Richt was asked whether anyone other than safety Josh Harvey-Clemons would be under disciplinary suspension for Saturday’s game. “I wouldn’t tell y’all if there was. I’ll announce it if we have to,” he said. … Richt said he does not expect junior safety Corey Moore (knee) or junior wideout Jonathan Rumph (hamstring) to be able to play Saturday. … Sophomore nose guard Chris Mayes, who was sidelined with a concussion for much of camp, is working with the scout team and appears unlikely to travel to Clemson.