ATHENS, Ga. — By the end of Georgia’s 17-play, 11-minute drive in the fourth quarter against Tennessee last season, Clint Boling was gasping for air, summoning every ounce of energy he had to line up for another battle as the Bulldogs marched their way down the field to secure a victory. The sophomore had played every snap of the drive. There was no one left on the sideline to give him a break.
The drive followed yet another injury to a Georgia offensive lineman, and Boling was once again the glue holding the line together. It was a role he played with precision all season, helping him earn All-SEC honors, but it took its toll.
“Toward the end of last year, I don’t know if I came off the field,” he said, “which is a good and bad thing.”
Playing nearly every play while attempting to remain versatile enough to shift to different positions on the line, Boling said he had trouble keeping his weight up last year. While he still isn’t sure where he’ll be playing in 2009, he’s hoping to avoid wearing down the way he did last year by preparing this offseason.
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“I’ve always been a smaller guy,” Boling said. “I’ve always had a hard time putting on weight, and then when we start practicing every day, it’s hard for me to keep it on. I’ve to do all the shakes and everything like that and be able to eat a ton just to maintain.”
Right now, Boling said he weighs in around 297 pounds. He would like to add about 15 pounds to that total by the time fall practice begins in August.
Getting bigger and stronger is one thing. Where he’ll put that size and strength to use, however, remains a mystery. Georgia is likely to open the season with eight offensive linemen with starting experience — although Josh Davis may have a bit later timetable to return to health — and the only certainty among the group is that Boling tops the list of candidates likely to have a starting job in 2009.
Filling in at fullback
Fred Munzenmaier can’t lose an argument with coaches when he tells them he should play more. He has a statistical anomaly on his side that acts as the ultimate trump card.
The sophomore fullback has carried the ball two times in his career, and each resulted in a touchdown for the Bulldogs.
Munzenmaier hasn’t been on the field often, but that could change in 2009.
Last year, fullback Shaun Chapas handled the majority of Georgia’s fullback duties, starting all 13 games at the position. He split time with the departed senior Brannan Southerland, however, with both players on the field at the same time on numerous occasions.
While Chapas figures to handle the load again this year, Munzenmaier hopes a strong spring could vault him into the role Southerland manned last season – meaning more playing time and potentially more chances to find the end zone.
“Obviously, Shaun has earned his spot and done a great job, so you can expect to see him in that No. 1 spot,” Munzenmaier said. “In the past, we’ve played two fullbacks. I think the main thing is just proving to the coaches that you’re dependable and you’re ready and that you’ve shown enough accountability they can put you out there in any situation.”
Bobo keeps sights high
His biggest offensive stars may be gone, but Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo isn’t expecting to tone down his play calling in 2009. In fact, he’s hoping for even better results.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Knowshon Moreno and wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi made up a huge chunk of Georgia’s yardage last year and all will be playing in the NFL in 2009. But Bobo looks at their departure as an opportunity rather than a setback.
“We’re not looking to settle for anything because we lost three guys from last year that made up probably 75 percent of our offense,” Bobo said. “It’s not only a challenge to me, but to all our guys offensively.”
As good as Stafford, Moreno and company were a year ago, Bobo thinks improvement isn’t only possible in 2009 – it’s necessary.
“I’m not satisfied with the way we played last year,” Bobo said. “We had some productive guys and offensive stats, but that doesn’t really mean anything. We lost three games, got blown out in two of them, basically disappeared at some stretches during those games and lost to our archrival Georgia Tech in our last game. There’s still a bad taste in our mouths around here, and we’ve got a long way to go. That’s what this offseason is about.”