If it’s preseason at Georgia, more often than not that means there are questions about the offensive line.
Georgia offensive tackle Kolton Houston (75) hugs Georgia center David Andrews (61) while Georgia wide receiver Michael Bennett (82) looks on during the second half the NCAA college football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AJ Reynolds/Staff, @ajreynoldsphoto)
This time around, it isn’t so much about how the guys in the trenches will hold up but simply where they will line up.
One thing seems certain. The starting center spot again is a picture of stability.
Senior David Andrews is set to begin his third year as a starter. He followed Ben Jones, who manned the position for the previous four seasons and now is in his third season with the NFL’s Houston Texans.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 294 pounds, Andrews has used his strength, athleticism and smarts to get the job done for a Bulldogs’ offense that has had its most average yards per game in program history the past two seasons.
“I’ve got a pretty good grip of what we’re trying to do play-wise,” Andrews said. “There are little things I can do to get better. I don’t believe you’re ever good enough. There’s a lot of things I can work on, steps, pass pro and just getting everyone on the same page. We’re rotating a lot of guys in there and that’s a big key with what position I play, getting everyone together.”
Andrews, named to the watch list for the Rimington and Outland trophies, is an ideal anchor for the line.
Quarterback Hutson Mason said he heard offensive coordinator Mike Bobo talk the other day about how smart Andrews is, a sentiment Mason endorsed.
“We’re kind of like a tandem,” Mason said. “It works well because sometimes I get up there and am like, ‘Shoot, what are we supposed to do right here?’”
Andrews, who has started 27 games in Bobo’s offense, can fill Mason in.
“It’s kind of like having another coach on the field,” Mason said.
Andrews’ football IQ — he was named offensive MVP this spring — may be a coach’s dream and the agribusiness major from Johns Creek prefers the gridiron to the classroom.
“I enjoy football more, I wish football was a major,” he said. “I love football. It’s what I’ve done since I was six years old. It kind of clicks to me and makes sense. I wish I could major in coaching or something like that. …The classroom is a little bit difficult at times because I’m sitting there thinking about a defense rather than paying attention sometimes.”
There’s a chance Andrews will line up with a freshman on one side of him at left guard in Isaiah Wynn or a first-year starter in Greg Pyke, who doesn’t have much game experience, at right guard.
Having Andrews there in the middle of it all is valuable. Coach Mark Richt points to Andrews’ “ability to just get everybody lined up, get everybody on the right blocking schemes, even help the quarterback at times. Sometimes there’s a gray area, `Is it this, is it that?’ Between him and Hutson declaring who the certain linebacker should be declared as the mike and every other blocking scheme gets changed at the line of scrimmage just within seconds. He not only knows what he’s doing, but he’s helping down the line.”
The only question mark at center is who would step in for Andrews if needed.
“We’ve got to develop some depth at that position,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.
Georgia will have to prepare someone to become the eventual successor to Andrews, who has one final season with the Bulldogs.
For now, they’ll have one final season with Andrews, who took a Fourth of July trip to do some shark fishing in Apalachicola, Fla. and still enjoys listening to country music his father played growing up like Hank Williams Jr., Keith Whitley and Johnny Paycheck.
“We’ve been very blessed at center with Ben having all the years he had,” Richt said, “and now David.”