June 7, 2008

Counting on Chapas

Friday's news that Brannan Southerland is expected to miss 16 weeks after undergoing foot surgery no doubt sent the Georgia Bulldogs a major jolt.

Coaches already knew that the squad would be without sophomore Fred Munzenmaier, who is suspended for the first two games of the year. But with Southerland now out, the Bulldogs' fullback scenario suddenly became a bit more tenuous.

That's one reason why the Bulldogs have decided to move backup linebacker Justin Fields to fullback to provide a little more depth behind the lone scholarship fullback (Shaun Chapas) until Munzenmaier returns for the SEC opener against South Carolina.

If Southerland's 16-week prognosis is correct, the senior won't return until Week No. 4 against Arizona State.

Chapas should be just fine.

The Jacksonville native has experience, having appeared in 12 games last year with 11 carries for 41 yards and three catches for 22 yards, including a career-long 10-yarder at Georgia Tech.

Count on running backs coach Tony Ball having Chapas ready to go.

Along with coaching the tailbacks, Ball is also responsible for the fullbacks and Chapas said the Bulldog assistant is always ready to give some helpful hints.

"If he sees me doing something, he'll coach me up, if he sees me doing something wrong. If he can give me a little bit of a tip - 'This is what I would do...'- he will. He has been there for me. He has been like a second little mini-coach."

Along with being the only scholarship fullback on hand for the season-opener against Georgia Southern, Chapas (6-2, 236) will also be the only fullback with any actual game experience.

But the Bulldogs aren't entirely void of depth.

Georgia does have a couple of wall-on performers other than Fields who will get looks, including former Athens Academy standout Nick Styles (6-1, 240) and Josh Bagby (6-2, 235).

The Bulldogs could use a two-two tailback set with starter Knowshon Moreno, but being that Caleb King, Richard Samuel and Dontavious Jackson have yet to play in an actual game, that scenario is unlikely.

Instead, Georgia will likely try to make due until Munzenmaier is able to play against South Carolina, and hopefully Southerland two weeks later against Arizona State.

Although Munzenmaier will be able practice while he serves his suspension, Chapas will no doubt miss his buddy during the first two games against Georgia Southern and Central Michigan.

"We're pretty much best friends off the field. It's good on the field though because we really try to help each other out," Chapas said. "We have fun with it but we both want to play so we know the job is there."

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