Bulldogs benefitting from healthy O-line

As skill players have been shuttled back and forth from the playing field to the training room, one constant for Georgia this season has been the health and well-being of its offensive line.

The Bulldogs’ front has managed to stay healthy for the most part. That’s a big reason why, despite serious injuries to two tailbacks and three wide receivers, Georgia continues to be one of the top point- and yards-producers in the SEC.

“We’ve put pressure on ourselves the past few weeks to really try to be great because without us, things don’t get rolling,” senior guard Chris Burnette said Monday. “We’ve been challenging ourselves to be the bell cows on this offense. We’ve got to be accountable and counted on for plays to be made.”

Burnette has definitely been doing his part. The 6-foot-2, 314-pound senior from LaGrange was named the SEC’s offensive lineman of the week for his performance last Saturday at Tennessee. Burnette received an 82 percent grade from the Georgia coaching staff with six “dominator” blocks and four knockdowns in the Bulldogs’ 34-31 overtime win.

A preseason All-SEC selection, Burnette has anchored an offense that has generated at least 34 points and 400 yards in all five games this season. The Bulldogs have allowed only one sack in the last three games and aided quarterback Aaron Murray to engineer comebacks the last two weeks.

“It’s awesome,” Burnette said the award. “I don’t really try to play for too many accolades. But it’s always good to get some recognition.”

The line has not been spared its aches and pains. Burnette, who was coming off offseason shoulder surgery, split time with Kolton Houston briefly in the opener against Clemson. But he has handled the majority of snaps at right guard since then.

Left tackle Kenarious Gates sprained his right knee late in the South Carolina game. He played sparingly against North Texas, but rebounded to get extensive work against LSU and Tennessee, with junior Mark Beard providing occasional relief. Otherwise, it has been status quo.

Meanwhile tailback Keith Marshall and wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley have been lost for the season with knee injuries. Tailback Todd Gurley has been sidelined since the second quarter of the LSU game with a high left ankle sprain and remains questionable Saturday against Missouri. Receiver Michael Bennett will undergo an arthroscopy Tuesday and is out at least for this week.

“Your heart just goes out to those guys,” Burnette said. “You look back to January and really to years past and you see those guys working with you to achieve great goals this season. To see them go down in a split second like that hurts.”

NOTES: For the second week in a row, Georgia placekicker Marshall Morgan was named SEC special teams player of the week. The sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., scored 10 points against Tennessee, including the game-winning 42-yard field goal in overtime. He also made a career long 56-yarder. … The Bulldogs' official injury list grew to 14 on Monday. Gurley, safeties Tray Matthews (hamstring) and Connor Norman (concussion) and punter Collin Barber (concussion) did not practice. Fullback Quayvon Hicks (ankle/knee sprain), linebacker James DeLoach (concussion), safety Shaquille Fluker (illness) and wideout Jonathan Rumph (hamstring) were also sidelined.