ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia's offensive linemen are enjoying the best of both worlds.
They're off to a good start, and missed blocks aren't always noticed thanks to the tailback trio of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Keith Marshall.
"We have the best tailbacks in the nation, and they definitely help us," junior center Brandon Kublanow said this week. "I think we've done a great job as an O-line, but the backs definitely make us look better."
The Bulldogs led the Southeastern Conference last season by averaging 257.8 rushing yards per game and 6.0 per carry. They essentially have matched that through double-digit victories over Louisiana-Monroe, Vanderbilt and South Carolina, averaging 256.7 per game and 6.6 per rush.
Georgia's line had its most complete performance in last Saturday's 52-20 crushing of the Gamecocks, helping the backs rush for 246 yards (6.5 per carry). It also kept quarterback Greyson Lambert comfortable in the pocket.
Lambert completed 24 of 25 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns, setting an NCAA single-game accuracy record at 96.0 percent.
"I thought we had a good week of practice and were prepared for them," Kublanow said. "Then we just went out and did what we needed to do. We had a pretty good idea of what we were going to do to them."
Lambert was never sacked by the Gamecocks, and he was touched just twice.
Georgia's line was expected to be a team strength under first-year position coach Rob Sale, given the return of four starters. The group had relatively slow starts against ULM and Vanderbilt, though the Bulldogs wound up amassing more than 420 yards in both of those games.
"Our line is doing a very good job," head coach Mark Richt said. "I know pass protection, especially this past week, was really outstanding. It's one thing to not get sacks, but it's another thing to really provide a big pocket.
"Greyson had a lot of space, and his vision was pretty clear as far as not having guys squeezing the pocket on him and things of that nature."
Chubb has 468 yards on 56 carries this season, averaging a staggering 8.4 yards. Michel is averaging 5.7 and Marshall 5.4 behind blockers who aren't always polishing off their defenders.
"It's definitely encouraging to know that it's not all on you," sophomore tight end Jeb Blazevich said. "Obviously you don't want to start thinking that you don't always have to do the best you can, because that's when things don't start going well, but our backs definitely can make me look better. Those guys are some war horses."
Said Richt: "There are always plays where the backs will take off and go for 60 or something, and they'll look around like, 'Hey man, did you get your guy? I didn't get my guy.' Those backs can make them look good at times, but there are a lot of times where are our linemen make our backs look good."
Georgia's linemen are expected to feast again Saturday when the No. 7 Bulldogs host Southern University (2-1), an FCS team. Their truest test yet will occur next week, when Alabama and the likes of defensive linemen Jonathan Allen, Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson invade Sanford Stadium.
"I feel like we've done a pretty good job, but we can always do better," Kublanow said. "I think we're on track to where we need to be."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.