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New Georgia offensive line coach Rob Sale, right, takes the microphone from new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer during a national signing day ceremony earlier this month.

ATHENS, Ga. -- New Georgia offensive line coach Rob Sale is well aware of what an effective front looks like.

He saw it year after year as a strength and conditioning assistant and an offensive analyst at Alabama.

Sale was hired by Mark Richt in January following three seasons at McNeese State, a Football Championship Subdivision program, but his coaching background was formed when he joined Nick Saban's first staff at Tuscaloosa in 2007 and stayed through 2011. In his final season with the Crimson Tide, they had a starting quintet of Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, William Vlachos, Anthony Steen and D.J. Fluker and won the national championship.

"It was pretty special," Sale said. "Each guy learns differently and each one was different, but it was a great combination. I remember Chance Warmack coming in as a young pup, and he was trying to study all the pictures of odd fronts or over fronts or under fronts. He missed the picture of understanding concepts, but those guys all turned out to be very special.

"You had Barrett Jones. You had James Carpenter. You had Anthony Steen, and you had D.J. Fluker and William Vlachos. It was a really talented group."

Sale worked with four offensive linemen at Alabama who eventually became NFL first-round draft picks -- Andre Smith in 2009, Carpenter in 2011 and Warmack and Fluker in 2013 -- and he inherits a situation at Georgia that isn't exactly bleak.

The Bulldogs had the most consistently impressive offensive line of the Richt era this past season under assistant Will Friend, who left after Georgia's Belk Bowl rout of Louisville to become Mike Bobo's offensive coordinator at Colorado State. Georgia had at least 379 yards of total offense in every game for the first time in program history, and that 379-yard minimum came in the 34-0 hammering at Missouri in which Nick Chubb pounded through the Tigers in the first game of Todd Gurley's four-game suspension.

John Theus, Brandon Kublanow, David Andrews, Greg Pyke and Kolton Houston comprised Georgia's starting front in 2014, and only Andrews is gone from that group.

"Obviously that's a good place to start," Sale said.

Isaiah Wynn, who played in 10 games last season as a true freshman, could get the first crack at replacing Andrews, but Sale is like any other line coach in that he simply is looking for "the best five." The Bulldogs signed four offensive linemen earlier this month, but they will not arrive until this summer.

Sale was an offensive lineman at LSU, where he was recruited by Gerry DiNardo but played his last three seasons for Saban. He credits Saban for giving him an opportunity in 2007, but nobody has had a bigger influence on him than Joe Pendry, who was Alabama's line coach from 2007 to 2010.

Pendry retired in January 2011 and was replaced by Jeff Stoutland, who worked with the Tide's talented 2011 and '12 fronts before moving on to the Philadelphia Eagles.

"He was a great teacher and a great evaluator of talent," Sale said, "and he did an awesome job."

Before leaving Alabama for his first full-time assistant position with McNeese State, Sale sat in on the interview process in January 2012 as Saban was hiring an offensive coordinator to replace Jim McElwain. Doug Nussmeier eventually got the job, but one of the candidates was Brian Schottenheimer.

Schottenheimer is now Georgia's offensive coordinator. Georgia has three new assistants this year, with former Bulldogs tailback Thomas Brown returning to his alma mater last week to coach the running backs.

Sale admits that his job is to basically not mess up what took place this past season, when Chubb rushed for 1,547 yards and 7.1 yards per carry.

"The philosophy is play-action and that everything we do has to tie in," Sale said. "We have to believe in the same principles of covering up the down linemen, knocking them off the ball and let great running backs be great running backs. It's a pretty simple concept."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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