Georgia will be playing for the last time with Will Friend as offensive line coach Tuesday night, when the Bulldogs face Louisville in the Belk Bowl.
Friend is leaving to become offensive coordinator at Colorado State, and he departs having done his best work in his four seasons with the Bulldogs. Georgia had to replace three starters entering the 2014 season but is averaging a healthy 454.9 yards per game entering its 13th and final contest.
The Bulldogs have been slowed every so often but never stopped, amassing at least 379 yards of total offense in every game for the first time in program history.
“I think the line had its act together, and they all stayed healthy,” Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. “It’s a great tribute to Coach Friend and his ability to coach and teach and motivate, but I also think it has to do with what we do with our guys from a scheme point of view. Some guys can really run-block well and some guys can really pass-block well, but sometimes they’re not really good at both.
“We’ve had balance offensively over the years, being able to run and throw the ball like we do and protect the quarterback like we have, but they’ve really done a great job.”
— David Andrews, Georgia center
Georgia’s 379-yard output occurred in the 34-0 win at Missouri on Oct. 11, when Heisman Trophy favorite Todd Gurley served the first game of a four-game NCAA suspension. Freshman Nick Chubb replaced Gurley and pounded the Tigers for 143 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries.
The Bulldogs are averaging 255 rushing yards a game and have allowed only 15 sacks.
“We don’t have any superstars or anything like that,” senior center David “Boss” Andrews said. “We’re kind of just a bunch of misfits, but we molded together and worked hard and have been as smart as we can when it comes to assignments and getting things down.”
Georgia does have a unique assemblage of a starting five, with Andrews the respected leader and left tackle John Theus the blue-chip signee of the bunch who had battled inconsistency until this season. The two guards, Greg Pyke and Brandon Kublanow, were lacrosse and tennis players in high school before turning to football.
Right tackle Kolton Houston didn’t know if he would ever play collegiately due to repeated positive tests for a banned substance that had been administered to him in high school.
“Any time you’ve got a center who knows what’s going on, like David does, it allows you to make up for some things when the other guys don’t know what’s going on yet,” quarterback Hutson Mason said. “Those guys got better every single game, but they were playing well early in the season.”
Said Pyke: “I remember the first game against Clemson being pretty nervous as I ran out there, but it quickly felt like home. We love hanging out with each other. Having Boss as our leader really helped develop the communication.”
Perhaps no play better reflected Georgia’s dominance up front than a fourth-and-1 from Auburn’s 9-yard line midway through the second quarter of a 7-7 game. A carry by Chubb resulted in not only a first down but a touchdown, and Chubb wasn’t even touched until just before crossing the goal line.
“We had that play in practice for weeks, but we never got to call it,” Andrews said. “It finally got called, and we executed it perfectly. Our goal is always to get our backs to the second and third level and let them do the rest.”