ATHENS -- Last year against Vanderbilt, Brandon Kublanow was thrown into the game and had no idea what to do.
A freshman offensive lineman at the time, Kublanow had spent countless hours and endless nights studying the offensive playbook. There were times he thought he knew it. There were times he wasnt so sure.
But as he entered the game to take a snap at left guard last year in Nashville, Tennessee, everything hed practiced was instantly forgotten.
I remember last year, they put me into the Vandy game, and my mind just went blank, Kublanow said. They called the play, and I just looked at Boss (David Andrews) and said, I dont know what Im doing. That was crazy right there.
That story might concern some Georgia fans, but it shouldnt. Cluelessness from young, especially freshmen, offensive linemen is a common theme everywhere, not just at Georgia. With the wide variations of pass block versus run block schemes, linemen are expected to know the playbook as thoroughly as anyone.
For the then-18-year-old Kublanow, it was overwhelming.
When youre a freshman, its crazy because theyre just throwing plays at you left and right, he said. You think you know something, and then something comes up. Youre all flipped backwards and you know nothing now. It takes awhile.
In Kublanows mind, it took him a full year to finally grasp the playbook. He even goes so far as to say he still doesnt know the playbook. But he has a strong enough understanding of it to compete this year.
Coaches expect the same, apparently, because Kublanow earned most of the first-team reps at left guard in the preseason. He seems to be the starter at that spot, even though no spots are guaranteed.
Right now, Im rolling with the ones, Kublanow said. Really anythings up for grabs right now at every position.
The up for grabs mentality is fostered by offensive line coach Will Friends approach to picking his starting offensive line. He has been known in the past to rotate his linemen, trying to solidify the best combinations on the line. His tactics have been the same this offseason.
Former starters and newcomers have been shifted around with no one -- likely excluding senior center David Andrews -- completely sure where theyd earn most of their reps on the line this year.
Kublanow has adjusted to the uncertainty, although it does cause a little anxiety.
It always puts you on edge, not knowing whats going on. You just do you, and I know itll all work out in the end, he said. During the season Coach Friend will normally roll eight, so we all feel comfortable with each other. If one persons next to me instead of another, it doesnt really make a difference.
If Kublanow ultimately does lock down that starting left guard role, hell likely have Georgias longest-tenured offensive lineman lined up to the right of him at center. Andrews is widely considered to have the best knowledge of the Georgia playbook, Kublanow even saying he thinks Boss knows more than the coaches sometimes.
Kublanow obviously doesnt expect to have that expertise yet, but hes noticed a significant progress, even since the preseason began.
I know most of it right now. Definitely not like Boss, he said. Boss knows everything, but Im definitely way ahead from last year where I basically knew nothing. Its kinda slowed the game down.
Andrews has noticed the improvements Kublanow, whose nickname is Box has made, too, calling him one of the more improved guys since spring.
I think Box had a good camp, Andrews said. Hes a done a lot better things. Hes gotten a lot better from spring to summer. I think hes been working hard.
Part of that improvement was purely overcoming health issues. In the spring, Kublanow came down with a stomach virus that caused him to drop almost 25 pounds. Knowing a 270-pound offensive lineman wouldnt cut it in the SEC, Kublanow had some doubts but managed to gain it all back to return to his natural 295 pounds.
He knows this was (and will continue to be key) if he hopes to contribute in the way he wants to this year.
I feel healthy, which is probably the most important thing for my continued progress, Kublanow said.