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Georgia Tech Football: Five Impact Players in 2016 - C Freddie Burden

Do we finally have a new leader on the offensive line?

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

Countdown to Kickoff: 80 Days

The last couple days in this series, we have looked at a couple of other offensive players, but today, we look at a guy that without having him, the other two probably would not be on this list either.

As it is with virtually every offense, to be successful, the offensive line needs to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. You could look at the last few National Champions (mostly Alabama, which always seems to have a good offensive line) and see that. The good offensive line play sets the offense up for success.

Two years ago, Tech had that good offensive line and the success of the offense was clearly there. Last year, though, things were much different. I know I don’t need to remind any of you about last year’s offensive line; it was atrocious.

So, what changed? How did an offensive line that was supposed to feature three seniors and only needing to replace one starter turn out to be one of the worst offensive lines in football?

Shaq Mason graduated. At the time, many thought that wouldn’t cause that much of a problem, but it turned out that Mason was a lot more important to the offensive line than any of us thought. He was no doubt the leader of the offensive line, and last year, nobody was able to replace him.

It’s a new year, though, and I think we have a player that will step up and fill that void in Freddie Burden.

(And now I can hear the excitement as I finally got through with my rambling long enough to talk about the focus of this article)

Freddie Burden is far and away the most experienced offensive lineman we have left. Going back to my Opinion Week piece about the offensive line, Burden is the only lineman with more than a year of starting experience under his belt, so really, he is in a prime (and a bit of a forced) opportunity.

You may be wondering, well if Burden is supposed to be the leader of the offensive line this year, why couldn’t he do it last year?

That is an excellent question and one I wish I had an answer to. It really could be any number of reasons, whether it be injury or his dad’s illness and eventual passing, but whatever it was, it did seem like something was holding him back.

Burden has a real opportunity to be a huge difference-maker on the offensive line this year, but he has to take that step forward and become a leader. He will need to command respect.

Can he do it? Absolutely. There isn’t a doubt in mind about that. He is easily one of the most talented offensive linemen that Paul Johnson has been able to work with and has been one in a long line of really good centers. But like I have been saying from the beginning, he needs to just do it (insert Shia LaBeouf video here).