One of my editors had an interesting reaction when he heard about the Gamecocks’ decision to re-jigger the offensive line.
“I thought the Georgia game was the best they played this year,” he said.
No doubt, the pass protection was the best it’s been. But I’ll give you 18 reasons for inserting Jarriel King at left tackle and moving Jamon Meredith to guard – the 18, count ‘em, rushing yards USC managed against the ‘Dogs.
Critics have jumped on O-line coach John Hunt in previous years for taking a while to decide on his best five linemen. But it’s hard to blame Hunt this year. With Meredith, a two-year starter at left tackle, out for the first two games because of an NCAA eligibility ruling, Hunt basically was biding his time until the Georgia game to see what he had.
What Hunt saw was a line that gave up a season-low two sacks, but also one that got no movement up front on running plays, particularly on the Gamecocks’ ill-fated goal-line series in the fourth quarter. Steve Spurrier said Tuesday if given a mulligan, he might run the toss sweep that resulted in a Mike Davis fumble to the right side – an apparent dig at Meredith.
Bottom line: Hunt and Spurrier want their best five blockers in the lineup and believe King is among them.
King, the Georgia Military transfer, reminds me of former USC tackle Na’Shan Goddard – tall guys built more like basketball players than hulking linemen. But both have quick feet and good athleticism for their size.
The X-factor in all this is Meredith, a fifth-year senior listed among the top NFL prospects at tackle before the season started. As he does with his quarterbacks, Spurrier seems to be challenging Meredith by moving him inside.
It will be interesting to see how Meredith responds; he must first beat out Lemuel Jeanpierre for the starting spot.
If King and Meredith play well, Hunt may have found his five. If not, well, try, try again.