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Friday, March 19, 2010

Notes: Dawgs Focused on Fundamentals

The early part of spring practice has been a blur for most of the players and coaches as they adapt to Todd Grantham’s new 3-4 defense, but the foundation for everyone has been a focus on the fundamentals.

“Everybody wants to teach fundamentals, and everybody has a little different way of doing it,” head coach Mark Richt said. “The bottom line is that our coaches are trying to set up fundamental drills that once they insert into a playing or scrimmage situation, then it’s going to help them be a better football player. I think everybody has a different style of teaching their fundamental work, so there are a lot of new things out here right now.”

In the secondary, Brandon Boykin said much of the language and technique is the same as what the Bulldogs ran in past seasons, the teaching manner of their new defensive backs coach, Scott Lakatos, suits the players well. And while the bulk of what Georgia is running remains the same among the secondary, there are a few key differences.

“When the ball’s in the air, he teaches to get your head around and look for the ball,” corner Jordan Love said. “Last year we were playing hands to the receiver, and that’s an adjustment we’ve had to make.”

The early workouts haven’t been full contact, so tackling drills have been minimal, but Grantham said the defense is still getting plenty of fundamental work in that area, too.

“We work on tackling even without pads on,” Grantham said. “It’s all about getting in the hitting position. You’ve got to come to balance, understand it, where’s my help, inside-outside leverage, on the sidelines, closing down an angle, taking away a guy – you can work on all that stuff without pads on.”


It has been an adjustment for sure, Grantham said, but the progress his players are making on defense has been encouraging through the first three practices of the spring.

“There’s things I thought might be hard they picked up, and things I thought might be easy that’s a little bit harder for them,” Grantham said. “But at the same time, I’ve been pleased with what they’ve really understood and grasped. We’ve thrown quite a bit at them, and it’s all been new, but at the same time I see improvement in them every day.”

There is still plenty of confusion among the players, he said, but that was to be expected. He said his plan for installing his 3-4 defense would require four distinct phases – offseason workouts, spring practice, summer workouts and then the season – before it was perfected, and so far things are on pace.

“Once we get through this phase, we’ll evaluate everything,” Grantham said, “and we’ll start back over in the summer.”


The depth chart on the defensive line isn’t entirely set, but Rodney Garner said he has a bit better feel for how things might shake out.

For most of the spring, he’s used Abry Jones and Demarcus Dobbs at end, with DeAngelo Tyson at nose – although he swapped that around and gave Kiante Tripp a day running with the first team in place of Tyson on Thursday.

That change won’t be uncommon, Garner said. He plans on cross-training all of his linemen with the exception of Kwame Geathers, the bulkiest member of the group at 310 pounds.

“Kwame is the only guys we’re strictly training at nose because he’s got the different body,” Garner said. “DeAngelo is just like all the rest of them. He’s right now in the spring practice depth chart, I have him as the starting nose, but he can play the five, the three or the nose. This 3-4 scheme is a little bit different than a lot of schemes where we’re not a two-gap. We’re a one-gap penetrate. So Kwame being big, he can play in there, but it’s not necessary you have a big guy where you’re two-gapping him.”


Brad said...

The quote from Love tells me all I need to know about Willy. How could you ever in your right mind not teach the corners to identify the ball.

Anonymous said...

“When the ball’s in the air, he teaches to get your head around and look for the ball,” corner Jordan Love said. “Last year we were playing hands to the receiver, and that’s an adjustment we’ve had to make.”

I'm with you Brad. I played HS ball, and it was the first thing we were told. Last I checked...hands to the receiver leads to pass interference...

BulldogBrock said...

Wow it looks like these two folks beat me to the punch on that quote. We all know how many times db's have gotten beat in years past because they didn't know where the ball was. I'm glad to hear Lakatos is changing that mentality.

Also encouraging is Grantham's 4-step plan to get the defense up to speed on the 3-4. Couple that with his training players to get in the "hitting position" and this is like Christmas morning for Dawg fans.

Thanks David for being our eyes and ears at these practices and at Butts-Mehre. I spend way too much time reading your blog but it's all I've got football-wise from the bowl game til September (besides DVR'd wins vs GT and AU of course)...

AppleDawg said...

Seeing that quote about Willie makes me shake my head in disbelief. Let's ask any other elite D coach if they teach that method

How clueless can we be?