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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Catching Up With... Thomas Davis

It's been a while since we've done a "Catching Up With..." segment, which I take full responsibility for. But with so much going on in Athens lately, tracking down former Bulldogs isn't an easy task. But, like any great leader, I know how to delegate.

So, I called up our good friend and former Bulldogs beat writer Brett Jensen, who is now doing radio for WFNZ in Charlotte and covering the Carolina Panthers. I gave Brett a handful of questions for Thomas Davis, he added a few of his own, and -- voila -- we've got a Q&A with one of Georgia's all-time hardest-hitting defenders.

A quick note -- this interview was done last week before the LSU game took place, so keep that in mind when reading Davis' comments. Also keep in mind, he was being harassed by wide receiver Steve Smith throughout.

On to the interview...

Brett Jensen: How much have you been keeping up with Georgia this year? Have you seen much of the defense, and what do you think of their performance so far?

Thomas Davis:
I'm always watching the Georgia Bulldogs whenever I get the opportunity. Defensively, I think we need to step it up. I think we started out and played pretty well against Oklahoma State, but from there we sort of struggled. We have guys that I feel are capable of getting it done on defense, but they need to step it up.

CBJ: You played for both Brian Van Gorder and Willie Martinez. What's the difference between the two of them, and do you think Willie deserves all the criticism he gets?

I think Coach Van Gorder, he was a very intense coach, and he did a great job at Georgia. Coach Martinez, I never really got to play under him as a coordinator. I think both of them are great coaches. Coach Van Gorder got the best out of his players. Coach Martinez did the same as a position coach, but I don't know how he is as a coordinator. But Coach Van Gorder, he was a great coach, man.

CBJ: What is the difference between the defense you see Georgia playing today and the defenses you were a part of when you were on the team?

The biggest difference is we were more aggressive. We did a great job of getting to the quarterback and I think we're struggling in that area now. It was like a competition when we were there to see who could get there first. I think now, we sit back in zone a lot. Maybe that has something to do with the players that are there or it's Coach Martinez's scheme.

CBJ: You're widely known as one of the best safeties to play at Georgia. What do you think of the guys they have playing there now?

I look at a guy like Reshad Jones, I had a couple conversations with the guy and I looked at him and told him, basically, you could be a much better safety than I was if you apply yourself. I look for a lot of great things out of him. He's played well so far, but he's got to step up as a leader and get those guys going in the secondary.

CBJ: In terms of conditioning and strength, how prepared do you think you were for the NFL coming out of Georgia?

I think from a physical standpoint, I was very prepared for the NFL. Mentally, I was fresh, on my own, didn't understand everything, didn't understand how this league worked. I feel like that's the reason I struggled as a rookie. I was on my own, newfound success, basically new money. I just didn't perform as a pro like I should have. But I've learned my lesson and I feel like I'm doing a better job now getting things done.

CBJ: OK, so you're known as one of the legendary hitters at Georgia. Where do you think you stack up on the Bulldogs' all-time list of best hitters?

I think, if I had to rate myself, I'd be No. 2 on the list behind one guy -- and I've got to give him his props -- my man, Greg Blue. Blue was a hard hitter, man. But I ain't giving nobody else nothing. I'm a close second behind Blue.

CBJ: You're playing linebacker in Carolina now. Which position do you like better, safety or linebacker?

100 percent, I like safety better. The reason being, I was a lot more free. Everything was built around the safety. I came down in the box a lot. And when you come down with force, you get the big hits. Now at linebacker, you've got to take on fullbacks, you've got to take on linemen, you just don't have that freedom you did at safety. That's the big thing.

CBJ: So have you ever gone to Coach (John) Fox or anyone and said, 'Hey, I wouldn't mind playing a little safety'?

Absolutely not. I'm in a position, I'm starting right now, I'm happy to be here, I'm playing the linebacker position and I'm excited about it. It's growing on me.

CBJ: So what do you think the potential is for Georgia this season from what you've seen?

I think if they put it all together and start playing together as a team -- you've got to have guys like Rennie Curran, the veterans on that team step up and show some leadership to the younger guys. I feel like we have a lot of great talent there, especially offensively. I look at some of the receivers and they can go and start anywhere. If we get those guys to step up and get better play our of our defense, I think we're going to be great.

CBJ: Last question -- Georgia and Florida recently agreed to keep their annual game in Jacksonville going forward. There was a lot of controversy about where it should be played. Now that you're away from it, what do you think? Is it fair to play it in Jacksonville?

My personal opinion, I look back at this game, and I definitely feel like it's not a neutral game. I feel like it's a game that's in Florida, and we're playing Florida. So regardless of what you say, you split the stadium down the middle, I still feel like at some point Florida has an advantage because the game is in Florida. I think we should switch it up and play at the Georgia Dome a couple of years. Florida has to drive to Jacksonville and we have to fly. We have to drive to Atlanta and they can fly. Let's try that for a couple years and see how that works.'

Big thanks to both Brett and Thomas for the interview.

You can catch TD's Panthers as they stomp the awful Washington Redskins this weekend. You can also read Brett's blog at


Turd Ferguson said...

"The biggest difference is we were more aggressive."


jferg said...

You know what I'd like to see. Some of our NFL guys come back and work with the team for a week in the voluntary summer workouts. Champ, TD, Hines, Knowshon, Spoon, Stinch and MJG--just to name a few. I'd bet they could teach our guys a few things and inspire them.
What do you think,
David? Could you make this happen? A new
Uga tradition: Pro week!

David Hale said...

It's a good idea, jferg, but the problem is, due to NCAA rules, it would have to be organized and run completely outside of the program. It would take all of those guys volunteering & organizing it themselves because the school would not be allowed to set it up. So that becomes a much bigger task. I will say though -- you'd probably be surprised at how much many of the NFL Dawgs talk to the current players.

TR said...

I think Thomas Davis just damned Coach Martinez with faint praise. How many of today's players will get to the pros and say "that coach martinez, he was something. He was a coach"?

*tumbleweed tumbleweed tumbleweed*

Ubiquitous GA Alum said...

TD was at the LSU game. Saw him pre game in the Tate Center and he was on the field as an honorary captain.