February 4, 2009

Searels Speaks

Georgia associate athletic director Claude Felton walked up behind a group of reporters talking to offensive line coach Stacy Searels addressing a group of reporters and issued the following warning:

"Ok, guys, just 12 more questions," Felton said.

The comment even made Searels roll his eyes.

As is typical with press conferences involving head coach Mark Richt, Felton will routinely warn reporters when there is time for just one more question.

Being that Searels was giving his first interview since Spring Practice in 2007, Felton joked that he wanted to make sure the assembled scribes got their money's worth.

Even defensive coordinator Willie Martinez got into the act. Prior to his speaking, Martinez held up a Blackberry in front of Searels as if conducting an interview of his own.

Once the real interview began, naturally the conversation turned to last year's offensive line and the injuries that played havoc with the unit, particularly at left tackle where the preseason ACL injury to Trinton Sturdivant put the Bulldogs in an early bind. That is, before Clint Boling solidified the position after taking over in the Tennessee game following the ACL injury to Vince Vance.

"I can't remember exactly how we did it, but Clint at that time was our best player, and you want to try and get your best player at left tackle," Searels said. "That's why we did that."

When asked how Boling could slide so effectively from guard to tackle, Searels simply shrugged.

"Your value goes up if you can do more than one thing," Searels said. "Like I've said, I'm going to play my best five guys. If one of those guards gets hurt, you're No. 6 and all you can play is right tackle, if the left guard gets hurt, I've got to go to the seventh guy. I want to play the best five guys. That means they've got to understand concepts, they've got to know what everybody does because it all fits together like a glove."

Freshman center Ben Jones turned out to be the glue.

According to Searels, it was always his plan going into the season-opener against Georgia Southern to insert Jones into the lineup on the third series.

But Searels admitted when that series began with the Bulldogs backed up at their own 1-yard line, he almost changed his mind.

"I always felt like Ben Jones was going to be a starter for us. When he came in, he was tough, he's smart, he cares, he bought in and did everything we asked," Searels said. "He did extra film study, so I knew he was going to play.

"I said the third series he was going to play regardless of the situation, then boom, we're at the 1-yard line and I'm like 'Oh man, what are we doing?' I said a prayer, but he got the snap off and played every snap (that series) from that point on. I was very pleased with how he played as a true freshman and I'm looking forward to working with him and seeing how he develops."

With the exception of the injuries, Searels said he had little to complain about regarding the offensive line, which gave up just eight sacks a season ago.

He credits offensive coordinator Mike Bobo for that.

"Mike Bobo does an excellent job calling plays. He doesn't put us in a situation where we're going to put a kid out there that he's got to go one-on-one all day," Searels said. "We're going to chip for him, we're going to slide protect. At one time we had three freshmen starting up front, three freshman and two sophomores. But Coach Bobo's offense still had the No. 1 quarterback in the league, the No. 1 running back in the league and two of the top three receivers in the league. I give credit to those kids, but I give credit to Coach Bobo as well. He's a great coordinator in the SEC."

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