April 7, 2009

Munzenmaier gets look at tailback

The tailback took the handoff and hit the middle of the line of scrimmage, pushing the pile forward for a five-yard gain.

Fred Munzenmaier then jogged back to the huddle.

Yes, that Fred Munzenmaier. Currently listed as Georgia's No. 2 fullback behind starter Shaun Chapas, Munzenmaier is getting his shot to show what he can do from tailback, the same position Knowshon Moreno made famous for the Bulldogs the past two years.

Surprisingly, "Munz" has made a good early impression.

The 6-foot-2, 233-pounder led all rushers during Monday's scrimmage at Sanford Stadium with 11 carries for 54 yards, opening the eyes of running backs coach Bryan McClendon and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

"We were just out at practice one day last week (Wednesday) and needed someone to jump in and Coach Mac (McClendon) threw me in there," Munzenmaier said. "I know I'm here to block but it was pretty fun to get a chance to get out there and run hard. It turns out I had a pretty good day."

With two career carries for seven yards and two touchdowns, Munzenmaier hasn't exactly been bombarded with opportunities at Georgia.

That wasn't the case at Norcross High. Munzenmaier rushed 311 times for 1,615 yards in high school, splitting time between tailback and fullback for head coach Keith Maloof.

"I did a little of both," Munzenmaier said. "I was mainly a fullback but I got the ball some from a one-back set, so I've done it a little bit before."

Head coach Mark Richt said he was pleased with what he saw.

"He's done a nice job running the ball," Richt said. "He's a physical runner who we know that can play fullback, but because we had some guys banged up, we decided to give him a chance. He impressed Coach McClendon and he impressed Coach Bobo, the whole staff, really. I don't know how much time he'll get but there might be a place and time for Fred to play some tailback."

Richt said he'll definitely get some during Saturday's G-Day game at Sanford Stadium. The game will be televised live on ESPN.

"That's real exciting. It's going to make it a little more nervous being we're used to being out there in front of a limited crowd, but everyone is getting in free this year, it's on ESPN, so there's going to be a little extra pressure," Munzenmaier. "It really makes it more important. Not only are people who tune in and watch every Saturday going to be watching but our opponents are going to be watching. It's spring, and it's early but with our body language and the way we're playing it's going to be important to set a little bit of a tone."

Munzenmaier laughed when asked to describe his running style.

"I don't have the speed to run past too many people at this level, so I just try to stick with the basic fundamentals, set my track and just go," he said. "You won't see me bounce outside or anything like that, but I am working on a lot of things like finishing my runs, getting that good burst and not make myself vulnerable to take some of those nasty hits."

Exactly how much snaps Munzenmaier will see at tailback Saturday remains to be seen.

But when he does, he hopes to that good buddy Chapas is there leading the way. "I haven't had the chance to run behind Shaun yet, but that's my goal, to get some snaps with him up front," Munzenmaier said. "He can sure clear a big path. I'd love the opportunity to run behind him."

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