March 21, 2012

Two get look at RT

Although finding a replacement for Cordy Glenn at left tackle will be one of most-watched position battles for Georgia this spring, what goes down on the right side will bear keeping an eye on, too.

That's where coaches will be looking for Watts Dantzler and Austin Long to make their mark.

Although he practiced at left tackle for all of 2011, Long, who has overcome a myriad of injuries and illness, found himself on the right side when spring drills got underway Tuesday afternoon.

"It's a very, very good feeling," Long said. "Yeah, I went at right tackle today. I haven't played right tackle in a while, but the first couple of snaps I felt good."

Ditto for Dantzler, who was back at tackle after seeing action at guard during last December's preparations for the Outback Bowl.

In fact, during the 20 minutes the media was allowed to watch Tuesday's first day of practice, Dantzler saw reps with the first team.

Although Dantzler said he's still got much improving to do, a year's difference can definitely be felt.

"We go into camp the first day and I'm lined up against Jarvis (Jones) and Cornelius (Washington). That's a lot for someone to handle," Dantzler said. "Now, it's my second season and it's a lot more comfortable. I wasn't shaking like I was during camp last year."

As for Long, he's finally ready to make an impact following an injury-plagued start to his collegiate career.

"It's been a long, long journey. It seems when I got almost 100 percent for my back, something else would happen, whether it was my shoulder, or the mono before fall camp," said Long, who now weighs in at a svelte 308 pounds. "I had an ankle this year, so it's been tough. But you've got to keep your eye on the goal playing and just work hard, eat healthy, do whatever I can do be the healthiest player I can be. It's working so far."

But apparently, what goes on his dinner plate is a Bulldog state secret - between he and team nutritionist Jen Ketterly.

"She gives me a diet and I do exactly what she says," smiled Long, refusing to divulge any scurrilous details. "That's a secret. I can't tell you that, but it's working pretty good so far."

Long likes what he sees from the rest of the offensive line as well.

That includes the battle at left tackle where Kenarious Gates received the first shot with the No. 1 unit with JUCO signee Mark Beard running with the second team.

"It's a different speed, but he's just got to get used to it," said Long.

As for Gates, the junior still faces his own set of challenges as well.

"I've got to get better with my footwork," Gates said. "But overall I think I did ok."

On Tuesday, Kolton Houston worked with the first team at left guard, despite the fact his status with the team has yet to be resolved. David Andrews, as expected, has first dibs on the starting center spot with Chris Burnette back at right guard.

On Tuesday, Dallas Lee (left guard), Hugh Williams (center) and Hunter Long (right guard) joined Austin Long and Beard on the second-team offensive line.

Although still young, Long believes a year's experience will serve this year's offensive line well.

"You can expect us to work hard every day, because we haven't had the other snaps and we need to be the best players we can be on the field as far as technique, as far as strength and knowing what's going on," Long said. "As a group, we've watched a lot of film and we know what's coming when we see a certain defense and I think that's going to help us once we do get on the field as far as recognizing certain things."

That's what Dantzler hopes as well.

"All the guys worked hard during the off-season lifting and running. We're getting better," he said. "There's still long way to go but we're going to show folks that we're pretty good players, too."