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Preparing for the Worst: What if Kenny Cooper isn’t ready for the season?

What’s the worst that could happen?

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue our preview of Georgia Tech’s season, we’re going to be doing something a little different. We will be moving away from the normal optimism and looking at all of the worst-case scenarios, how Georgia Tech would work to fix them, and then what kind of impact it would have on the season. Buckle up, it’s going to be a long ride.

Raise your hands if you thought Georgia Tech had a good offensive line last year.

Cricket Noise

Yeah, I didn’t think so either. Now, what if I told you that it could get worse?

As it stands right now, here’s my estimated starting offensive line:

LT - Jahaziel Lee

LG - Parker Braun

C - Kenny Cooper

RG - Will Bryan

RT - Andrew Marshall

Overall, this seems like it could be the best offensive line Tech has had since 2014. The Yellow Jackets have two strong starters in Braun and Cooper, as well as the return of Andrew Marshall who was very good when he was in a starting role. Staying at one position could also be a nice boost for Will Bryan.

There’s just one problem with all of that. One of those starters hasn’t played since the end of last season due to injury, the player being Cooper. According to the AJC, Cooper suffered a serious leg injury in a scrimmage during Spring practice. Now, it’s entirely possible that Cooper could be ready to go by the beginning of the season, but there’s also a chance that he isn’t, and that’s what we’re here to talk about, so let’s dive in.

Let’s go to a hypothetical world where Cooper’s injury is pretty serious, causing him to miss the entirety of the season. This is a lot more realistic than some might think. Last year, Marshall was a bit of a victim of trying to be brought back to quickly from a similar injury, and that caused him to miss the season. That has already made Paul Johnson cautious in bringing Cooper along.

So with Cooper out at center, that leaves a gigantic hole in the middle of the offensive line. There are a couple options, but I think the two most likely already hold starting spots on the offensive line: Jahaziel Lee and Andrew Marshall.

Lee seems like the likely answer, given that he filled in for Cooper during the Spring game and did a decent job. He would still need to improve a bit more, but I think center is a more natural fit for him than tackle.

Marshall would be a very intriguing option at center. Prior to Cooper’s arrival on the Flats, Marshall served as the back-up center to Freddie Burden and was seen by many as the heir apparent. Once Cooper arrived and won the starting spot, Marshall split out to tackle.

Let’s say that Lee ends up moving to center. That means someone has to take his spot at tackle. Again, there are a couple options, and one of them is already starting: Will Bryan and Ole Miss transfer Jack DeFoor. Given DeFoor is still learning the offense, I can’t imagine he would be starting right away, so let’s imagine that Bryan moves out to tackle. This opens up another spot at right guard, which would likely be filled by one of the Morgan twins.

Let’s take a look at that starting offensive line now.

LT - Will Bryan

LG - Parker Braun

C - Jahaziel Lee

RG - Brad Morgan

RT - Andrew Marshall

Losing Cooper at center would definitely be a huge loss. With a make-shift offensive line like the one we’ve got here, I think that could cost Tech a game or two, especially towards the beginning of the season as the offensive line takes time to gel.

As the season continued, the offensive line would start to at least get a little bit better, but ultimately, I think it would look very similar to last season, only with Cooper being the noticeable absence as opposed to Marshall.

With Kenny Cooper out, how would you re-tool the offensive line? What kind of effect would it have on the season?