A wet ball can be most challenging for the quarterback. JT Daniels will be the Bulldogs’ man under center this year, and Smart expects him to lead an “explosive” vertical passing attack.
The players protecting Daniels likely will change throughout the season. Still, Smart and offensive line coach Matt Luke want to find a starting five that works well together beginning Sept. 4 against Clemson.
One of the bigger competitions is at left tackle. Sophomore Xavier Truss, senior Jamaree Salyer, redshirt freshman Broderick Jones and freshman Amarius Mims are taking reps there in practice. Truss has played the most at the position so far, Smart said.
“With (Truss), so much of it is communication, demeanor, body language, fight,” Smart said. “He’s improved in all those areas. Very pleased with where he’s headed and what he’s doing.”
Truss started at left tackle against Cincinnati in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The other starters that day were Salyer at left guard, center Warren Ericson, right guard Justin Shaffer and right tackle Warren McClendon.
Other players in the general mix include redshirt freshman Tate Ratledge, redshirt freshman Austin Blaske and sophomore Clay Webb. Redshirt freshman Sedrick van Pran also should see some playing time behind Ericson at center.
Although Ratledge has made an impression, he needs more time.
“We think he’s powerful, intelligent, (but) still inexperienced,” Smart said. “And experience is the greatest attribute you can get when it comes to SEC. You can’t simulate what you get in there in terms of third down, the speed of the game. He’s a guy that needs 1,000 reps, and we’re trying to get him to 1,000 as fast as we can. He’s embraced it, too.”
Ratledge can move around, but most likely would be a guard. The left tackle position remains the Bulldogs’ most public competition.
“(Left tackle) is a spot that’s, again, is always going to be open. Truss is getting most of the reps there until we can figure out who the best five are.”