I’ve pondered this question recently, and have had some good conversations with corbin on this exact issue.
We have what was thought to be the premiere Offensive Line coach in America in CSS. He was on Saban’s staff when he won a NC, took our line from shambles to riches in 2007, and is generally regarded as the best in the business.
We have several offensive linemen who are projected to be great NFL linemen. We were told that our O-line would be the most dominant in the conference prior to the 2010 season. Yet we witnessed a line who under-performed all year long, had a difficult time opening up holes, and generally got out-played for most of the season.
So, the best I can tell, there are four possible answers as to why we seem to be struggling so badly on the offensive line. I will preface this by saying I was an offensive lineman, and while a great running back is a line’s best friend, a running back is generally only as good as his line.
1- Coach Stacy Searels is not as great a coach as we all thought. Maybe he was the product of great athletes at LSU, came to UGA and had one of the best running backs we’ve seen since Herschel, and rode Knowshon to perceived greatness. He really didn’t do a great job early on but had good results based on personnel. Now that he’s left with the current personnel, he is not really all that good. I don’t think this is the case.
2- Our “NFL-caliber” linemen really aren’t as good as they are cracked up to be. I don’t know how this could be the case, but maybe it is. I’m not a scout, so I don’t know exactly what the deal is here. I would think that the folks who look at this stuff know what they’re talking about, and that these guys really are good. But if they are that good, and Searels is that good, then something’s got to give. I guess this has a little more validity than the above point.
3- Knowshon and Stafford made the line look better than they actually are, and Murray and Ealey/King are bringing the level back down. I touched on this in my first point, and while I don’t think it’s the case, there may be some validity here. I just find it hard to believe that Searels could have a unit look so great for a couple of years and then have a unit look so mediocre the last two years. But maybe 24 hit the holes harder and also elevated the play of the line. Who knows? If so, then what’s the fix? And what does that mean about CSS? What role does Bobo take in it?
4- Maybe CSS is a great O-line coach, and maybe our guys are truly talented. They’ve just become a product of a bad system. Honestly, I hope that this is the case. Maybe CSS has been brought down a level by his surroundings. Maybe these horses haven’t been given the proper training in the weight room and the gymnasium. We could have an “FSU factor” in place, where you have NFL talent that isn’t being developed properly. But doesn’t part of that fall on CSS? Hopefully with changes in the S&C program, this area of concern will get fixed. But if this is the case, then we’re left with a head scratcher. Our linemen are big, no doubt. And we have seen the reports on how strong they are. Is there a disparity between weight-room talent and on-field talent? I really don’t know. If this point is valid, will the changes this year help fix the problem?
The bottom line is this: If CSS is a great coach, and we have really talented linemen, then something has got to give.
Listen, there are many, many things for us to complain about this offseason. Likewise, there are a lot of areas that need to be fixed. This is just one of many. I know we scored a ton of points this year, but when we needed it we didn’t have it. The run game digressed in 2010, and if we didn’t have AJ spread out wide taking attention away, Murray would probably have struggled infinitely more.
I’m just wondering what the problem is here, and if it is a S&C issue, is it something that can be fixed? I am one of the fanatics who thought CSS was the greatest thing to happen to our line when he came on board, and have sweated every time his name was mentioned elsewhere. I hope that I wasn’t foolish in my thoughts, and that he really is the best O-line coach in America.
Maybe I’m way off base on everything and I am concerned over nothing. What are your thoughts?