By FLETCHER PAGE
Former Georgia defensive ends Cornelius Washington, Justin Houston and Montez Robinson were pegged as perfectly suited to play outside linebacker in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme.
All reports indicate the trio is thriving, but in their absence, the defense end corps is a bit of a mystery. Outside of senior Demarcus Dobbs, there aren’t many proven players at the position. Dobbs said that’s OK.
“I think we’re holding up pretty well,” he said. “The defense ends that have moved down to end from last year for the 3-4, I think we’re getting it. It’s takes time to get used to the spacing, and the 3-technique. It’s different. It’s a different experience, but in due time, with the help of coach [Rodney Garner] I think we’re getting it.”
The 3-technique differs from last season’s normal 5-technique look. Grantham’s scheme employs both techniques, but the end slated to use each differs from play-to-play.
Ends in the 3-technique line up outside of the offense guard, and are responsible for maintaining outside leverage. Those in the five, line up outside of the offense tackle. The change sounds easy, but it’s fairly complicated for a group who played only the 5-technique for years.
“It’s more quick,” Dobbs said of the 3-technique. “It’s more fast, and it’s kind of hard to adjust to. [Garner] doesn’t have us moving around that much, but those are the two positions that we mainly play.”
Dobbs is a projected starter, but points to a few other names who, although unproven, have done well thus far in spring.
“I think Brandon Wood is coming along well,” he said. “There’s a couple of mental errors here and there, but his physical ability, you can see it on film. You can tell the guy has a bunch of potential.
“Kiante Tripp, he has that big body. He has an NFL-type body. All he needed was an opportunity, and I think he’s taking advantage of this opportunity to really shine.”
BOYKIN IN AT NICKEL
With his play last season cornerback Brandon Boykin essentially locked up a starting position for this season.
Nothing is guaranteed, but Boykin doesn’t plan on relinquishing the spot he grabbed three interceptions from in 2009.
With his play, Boykin also earned added responsibility.
When Georgia employs nickel coverage, with an added defensive back, it’s Boykin who slids down to cover the slot receiver.
“It’s not much of a difference because when the corner moves into the slot, it’s just like the nickel,” Boykin said.
The real change, Boykin said, is learning the blitzing packages. From his nickel spot, Boykin will be asked to cover bigger receivers in the slot, and at times, to rush the quarterback. The added tasks matches Boykin’s style, since he says he loves to plays physical.
“There’s a lot of similarities, but for me personally, it’s learning the nickel,” Boykin said. “My freshman year I played the nickel, but it was in coach [Willie] Martinez’ scheme and it was a little different. In this scheme, we have more blitzes and man-to-man schemes, so that’s what’s changing.”
It might be the least intriguing spring practice battle, but even if being the nominal starter at tailback isn’t particularly riveting material for fans to discuss, it’s something Washaun Ealey and Caleb King are following closely.
“It’s a friendly rivalry,” said Ealey, the rising sophomore who thrived down the stretch last season. “We try to outdo each other in everything we do, whether it’s playing basketball or playing video games or just hanging around. We just always like to kid around about stuff like that, about who’s the best.”
In Saturday’s scrimmage, both tailbacks impressed, but neither exactly separated himself. King carried six times for 79 yards, while Ealey ran nine times and picked up 64 yards.
At this point, however, head coach Mark Richt isn’t exactly worrying about who the starter will be. Instead, he’s simply enthused by the effort both runners have turned in.
“Caleb and Washaun have a very good friendship, and I think they both want to be the starter,” Richt said. “They both want to prove they deserve the most carries, and I really like they way they’re practicing. Both of them, you can tell they enjoy each other’s friendship, but they are really practicing with a lot of tempo.”
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
By FLETCHER PAGE