With an entirely new defensive staff and numerous shortcomings to address, most of the attention for the Georgia Bulldogs in spring practice is on the that side of the football. But there are several issues to address on the offensive side of the ball as well, namely replacing three starters who graduated off the offensive line.
The Bulldogs revealed some of their plans to that end on Wednesday in a spring practice preview media session. And those plans start with moving John Theus to left tackle.
The rising junior from Jacksonville has spent his first two seasons at Georgia as the starter at right tackle. But ever since he came to Athens as a 5-star prospect, Theus has always projected as a potential left tackle, which is considered the most important position on the line in terms of protecting the passer.
“We haven’t nailed down exactly how we’re going to start but I do think Theus is going to be at left tackle,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “We’ll have Kolton (Houston) at right and David Andrews at center for sure for spring. But we’ve told them the evaluation process started in mat drills and how they work is going to determine how they start in the first group.. There’s a handful of guys we feel who will be given opportunities to start.”
Graduated senior Kenarious Gates started every game at left tackle this past season and his primary backup was Mark Beard, who will be a senior this season. Beard briefly announced plans to transfer back in February but changed his mind a day later.
Bobo confirmed that Beard will be given a first look at left guard, where the Bulldogs lost three-year starter Dallas Lee. Georgia also lost starting right guard Chris Burnette to graduation.
“We’re going to try Mark at left guard,” Bobo said. “We’ll start him out there to start. He’s had a good offseason. He had a little spell where he needed to decide what he wanted to do. But our conversations with him are he needs to come in here and get his attitude right and work for a place on this team. And he’s had a really good attitude and really worked hard, which is good to see. No long faces.”
But Bobo said Beard will remain in the mix at left tackle and the Bulldogs will look at several other players there. The competition at that spot will likely dictate what happens elsewhere. The hope is the Theus move works out like they think it will.
“I believe John can transition well over there,” Bobo said. “(Offensive line coach Will) Friend feels like he’s a little more natural over there on that side as far as the way he sets and looks a little more comfortable over there on the left as opposed to the right. We’ll see. He’s still got to go out there and prove himself at that position. But he’s had a great offseason. He’s one of our leaders.”