Georgia Football: Why John Theus Should Start at Left Tackle This Season

Brian JonesContributor IJuly 11, 2013

September 29, 2012; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Keith Marshall (4) celebrates a touchdown with offensive tackle John Theus (71) in the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs won 51-44.  Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive line for the Georgia Bulldogs could be the deepest and most experienced unit in the SEC.

Not only do they have all five starters returning to the fold, the top eight offensive linemen from last year are back.

With that said, there is always room for improvement, and if the offense wants to be even better than what they were last season, the offensive line has to take it up a notch.

The way they can do this is by making some changes to the starting lineup, and the one change they should make is moving John Theus from right to left tackle.

In 2012 Theus had a solid year for the Bulldogs at right tackle. He got off to a slow start, but once he got more reps as the season progressed, he became more comfortable and emerged as one of the better young offensive lineman in the country.

In fact, Theus was named to the Freshman All-American Team by CBS Sports, Phil Steele and Sporting News. He started all 14 games for the Bulldogs and was the third true freshman to start at offensive tackle in a season opener since 1973.

Now that Theus is a sophomore, expectations for him to succeed have increased. Because of offseason surgery, Theus missed a majority of spring practice, and when he did make his return he was playing right and left tackle.

But when spring practice concluded Theus was listed behind Xzavier Ward at right tackle. The reason for that was a combination of Ward impressing coaches at spring practice and Theus getting looks at both tackle positions in a limited amount of time.

Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph said that Theus should start at left tackle because he has the most upside out of the entire offensive line. That’s true, but another reason is the Bulldogs need a guy that is a dominant presence at left tackle so quarterback Aaron Murray can feel safe.

Theus is the guy for the spot, and he has a good chance to succeed in 2013. His toughest test will be in Game 2 against South Carolina as it features defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. If Theus has a rough time against Clowney, nobody is going to blame him because Clowney is a NFL player just playing for the Gamecocks. Once more, going up against Clowney early in the year will benefit Theus because he can learn from what he did right and wrong, and take the lessons with him for the rest of the season.

Last year, the Bulldogs allowed 27 sacks in 14 games. Not bad, but the coaches want to get that number down in 2013.

The best way that can happen is by moving Theus to left tackle and have Kenarious Gates play guard or have him move to right tackle depending how Ward progresses. Guard Dallas Lee, center David Andrews and guard Chris Burnette have got their positions on lockdown, so if Theus does move to left tackle, then Gates will alternate at guard and tackle depending on injuries and certain game situations.

Fall camp is right around the corner for the Bulldogs, so there is no telling what the coaches will do with Theus. But the fact the coaches had him working at left tackle at the end of spring practice is a telling sign that they are looking at possibly tweaking the offensive line for this season.

And if they give Theus the green light to play left tackle, it should pay dividends when it’s all said and done.