Ben Cleveland’s weekend off included lots of bowfishing, staying ready

Credit: Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart comments on the play of the offensive line and the veteran stewardship of Ben Cleveland.

Credit: Georgia Bulldogs

With an unexpected day off Saturday after Georgia’s game against Missouri was postponed, offensive lineman Ben Cleveland knew he wanted to take advantage of the extra time.

“Obviously, not being able to play this past weekend has given us some more time off,” Cleveland said. “It’s also given our bodies more time to recover so more guys can come out, take care of injuries, do some extra things for their bodies to get them back to where they need to be. Both positive and negatives come from it. All we can do is take advantage of it.”

Cleveland didn’t just use his extra day to rest and get ready for the week ahead. He did what he called “a little” hunting and watched some of the Masters, but his main plan for the weekend was bowfishing.

What’s bowfishing? Let Cleveland explain.

“You take a bow and arrow that’s got a fishing reel attached to it," Cleveland said. “You shoot the fish with an arrow. You reel them in. It’s pretty difficult. It’s actually pretty hard to get figured out.”

Pretty difficult seems like an understatement, but Cleveland said he caught “quite a bunch” of gore, carp and catfish during his evening of bowfishing.

It’s safe to say that few players other than Cleveland turned to bowfishing on their extra day off, but it serves as an important reminder that in such a unique season, staying flexible is crucial. Every week, players get ready for a game that may or may not happen. It’s an unusual challenge, much like everything else in 2020.

“It is tough,” Cleveland said. “Just like last week, going into Monday we had no idea that we weren’t going to get to play. We’ve really just gotta make it about ourselves. Doing everything that we need to do to prepare ourselves, regardless of what team we’re playing, who we’re playing (or) where we’re playing at.

“You really just have to approach it with the mindset of doing this to make our team better, make myself better. Everybody has their own individual goals for each week, and that’s one thing that we really strive to accomplish regardless.”

Focusing on themselves allows Cleveland and the rest of the Bulldogs’ offensive line time to improve, which they’ve done throughout the season after an inconsistent start. Since allowing three sacks against Arkansas to open the season, Georgia’s offensive line has given up seven sacks combined in the past five games.

The Bulldogs have a new offensive line coach this year, Matt Luke, and multiple new full-time starters on the unit. It’s taken them some time to come together, but Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Tuesday he’s pleased with their progress.

“They’ve worked extremely hard,” Smart said. “I’ve watched them in individual most days. They’re really getting after it. High tempo. Physicality. They’ve protected the quarterback well, and the quarterback has saved them sometimes. ... They’ve played really hard. I’ve been pleased in their ability in the run game to get movement. Overall, I’ve been pleased at what the O-line has done, especially with the guys we have playing that are new.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, all signs point to Georgia’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday night going off without a hitch. But if the game does get postponed, the offensive line will have more time to work on themselves — and Cleveland may get to do a little more bowfishing.

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