Ben Cleveland and Isaiah Wilson help create ‘a lot of battling’ at UGA right tackle spot

Georgia offensive lineman Ben Cleveland (74) during the Bulldogs’ session on the Woodruff Practice Fields in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. (Steven Colquitt/UGA)

An injury on Georgia’s offensive line has meant plenty of moving parts this preseason and an extended look at right tackle for two of the team’s largest players: Ben Cleveland and Isaiah Wilson.

 

They are the top two at the position while Dyshon Sims works at left tackle with senior starter Isaiah Wynn out.

“That’s the spot we’ve got three guys competing,” coach Kirby Smart said. “There’s a lot of battling going on there.”

Wynn missed his fourth straight practice on Thursday.

“I still feel good about him.” Smart said. “He’s got a little bit of an illness and should be fine. He’s here. He’s just not out there during those periods. It’s something I just can’t disclose but we think he’s going to be fine.”

Smart didn’t completely rule out Wynn, a starter in 12 games last season, for Saturday’s first preseason scrimmage. Sims will work there if Wynn doesn’t go but the 6-foot-6, 340-pound Cleveland, a redshirt freshman, and the 6-7, 345-pound Wilson, a five-star signee from Brooklyn, may have given coaches more to think about.

“I thought Isaiah Wilson had his best practice so far yesterday,” Smart said after practice Thursday. “I’ll reserve judgment on today until I watch the tape but he had a lot better practice. Ben has competed really hard.”

With Wynn out, the rest of the starting lineup along with tackles Sims and Cleveland has been Andrew Thomas at left guard, Lamont Gaillard at center and Solomon Kindley at right guard.

Smart said Gaillard’s “played well,” but added that walk-on Sean Fogarty is “really pushing him.”

Whether it’s because of Wynn out or not, the offensive line isn’t getting the push Smart would like to see.

“We’re not as good a unit without him, right now, as we can be,” Smart said.

The offense probably had its best day of camp on Wednesday, but the defense played better on Thursday.

“I would say we’ve got to play more physical to improve on the offensive line, not only this year but so far this camp,” Smart said. “We still have not done compared to what I thought we did earlier in the spring.”

The defense was missing Trenton Thompson and Roquan Smith, two of its best players, this spring but they are back.

“We’re not where we need to be to be able to run the ball efficiently,” Smart said. “Hopefully the answers to that will come by scrimmage one, scrimmage two.

 

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