Tanner and Schnetzer anchor UGA offensive line

ATHENS -- Most of Georgia's regulars are exhausted in the fourth quarter of games.

The No. 8 Bulldogs spend months in the offseason going through a brutal conditioning program just so they can survive the rigors of 60 minutes of SEC football.

They must hate looking at Russ Tanner and Ryan Schnetzer at the end of games.

"Sometimes you are not even sweating," said Tanner, a graduate of Johnson County High School. A lot of time you have to move around on the sideline just to stay warm."

The reason Tanner, who has started every game this season at center, is so fresh is because he is now rotating every series with walk-on Ryan Schnetzer. Saturday's game against No. 3 Auburn (9-0, 6-0 SEC) at 3:30 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium will be the seventh straight game for their rare one-two punch.

"I think it's working out very well," Coach Mark Richt said. "I think it helps them both."

Richt has never been with a team that rotated centers every series, he said. Offensive line coach Neil Callaway said the only other time he can remember doing it was in the mid-1980s when he was at Auburn.

"I think they're about the same," Callaway said. "I think they both deserve to play. As long as they both continue to play good, we'll stick with it."

The main drawback, or potential drawback, to the system is that unfamiliarity may lead to a fumbled snap between the center and quarterback. In order to make sure the players are in sync, Georgia's quarterbacks use some of their time on the sideline between drives to take several snaps from the center about to enter the game.

The Bulldogs have yet to have a fumble on a center-quarterback exchange this season. David Greene fumbled on the goal line against Florida, but that happened when his hands hit a guard.

Schnetzer said he likes the system because sometimes he learns more quickly watching Tanner than he would from being in the thick of the action, he said.

"You can see things from the sideline you can't see when you're in there," he said.

Schnetzer's learning skills have given him a reputation in the locker room.

"We call him 'Dr. Schnetzer,'" Tanner said. "If you were ever going to trivia night, that's the guy you want on your team. He's just a really, really smart guy."

Schnetzer's not a doctor yet, but he hopes to be. He has already been accepted to the Medical College of Georgia, but he's trying to get his acceptance deferred so he can return and play for the Bulldogs next year. When he originally applied to medical school, Schnetzer had no idea he'd be getting as much playing time as he is now, particularly since he had surgery on both ankles during the offseason.

"I didn't know if I'd be able to play at all this year," he said.

Schnetzer, a biological sciences major, had a 4.0 grade point average last semester, but there are drawbacks to being considered the smartest guy in the locker room.

"When you mess up, they are really going to get onto you," Schnetzer said.

He also gets hit up for free medical advice. Earlier this year, a teammate asked Schnetzer to diagnose a possible case of appendicitis.

"They think I know the stuff already," he said.

Schnetzer brings some of that on himself, Tanner said, by dismissing his teammates' self-diagnosis.

"If it's not correct, Dr. Schnetzer will let you know," Tanner said.

Other than playful jabs, though, the partnership seems to be working fine.

"We've both gotten our jobs done," Tanner said. "If you've got two guys that can play, I'd say it's definitely a plus."


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