ON THE SPOT: Kenarious Gates, Georgia

Chip Towers


About Gates: The 6-foot-5, 327-pound senior was the last member of the 2010 recruiting class to get a scholarship offer. Gates, who had committed to Kentucky, jumped at the Bulldogs' offer, which became available after another recruit backed out. Since then Gates has played in 35 of 42 possible games with 27 starts, which ranks second to quarterback Aaron Murray. Until last season Gates played primarily at guard. But he won the competition to play the always challenging left-tackle position, and no one on the roster has been able to unseat him.

Why we'll watch: Gates has the most difficult job in college football today. He'll be the primary blocker lined up across from South Carolina All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Gates went against Clowney last season, and though he had a tough day, it wasn't the embarrassment some made it out to be. Clowney had one sack and one hurry, though his penetration into the backfield on nearly every play affected Georgia in many other ways.

Scouting report: Gates lost weight before this season in an attempt to improve his agility. At the beginning of preseason camp, he was down to 315. But he struggled during about a quarter-long stretch against Clemson on Saturday, giving up two of the four sacks the Bulldogs' offensive line allowed.

What the coach says: "I think Gates is a very good player," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "He is the guy that has the best shot at matching up out there (with Clowney). We wouldn't be playing him at left tackle if we didn't think he could do it. He went up against Jadeveon a year ago, so it won't be like a first-time experience for him. … We think he gives us our best shot to succeed."

What the player says: "I'm just going to treat it like I do every other game. It's another game on the schedule. It's the most important game because it's the next game. It's not just me as an individual. It's a team. We're going to do it as a team. We're going to win as a team, we're going to fight as a team and we're going to work together."