UGA’s Gates takes over key role on Murray’s blind side

For all the focus this preseason on freshman John Theus and Georgia’s right tackle position, it’s almost forgotten that quarterback Aaron Murray will have a new player protecting his blind side this season.

Kenarious Gates shifted this offseason from left guard to the pivotal left tackle spot. He is replacing Cordy Glenn, taken in the second round of the NFL draft by Buffalo. Georgia had not produced an offensive lineman drafted that high since 2003.

“I feel very comfortable because I feel that’s my natural position, that’s where I need to be,” Gates said after Monday’s practice. “This has been my best camp. I’ve worked hard and become a leader for the team and am just holding down left tackle.”

The 6-foot-5, 318-pound Gates, who started nine games at left guard last season, admits he can improve his technique.

“He’s getting better,” coach Mark Richt said. “He’s really practiced well the last few days especially. I think he’s become more comfortable there. He’s being a little bit more patient in his pass protection. …You’ve got to time your punch.”

Murray said he was confident that Gates would be fine at the new spot because the junior “has a lot of years in the system already.”

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On further review, Richt actually said Todd Gurley is “about 90, 95 percent,” healthy. Now needs to get in top condition.

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