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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Notes: Grantham Adds Enthusiasm to Dawgs' D

Mark Richt has heard enough people wonder aloud if he has a proper football personality. The truth is, he’s not going to argue with anyone who says he’s an exceptionally nice guy – even if it’s not meant as a compliment.

But while Richt doesn’t plan to change his attitude on the field much, he recognizes that his new defensive coordinator may help fill a gap when it comes to that in-your-face style generally associated with football coaches.

“He’s intense, there’s no doubt,” Richt said of Todd Grantham’s demeanor on the field. “That’s what you want is a guy that’s got some fire in him. Everybody knows my demeanor and has a little bit of a feel for that. I think it’s probably good to have somebody who’s a little more outwardly excited. I do get excited on the inside sometimes, but it’s good to have that energy on the sidelines.”

For his part, Grantham said he has plenty to be excited about.

After 11 years in the NFL, being back in the college ranks has provided a healthy dose of excitement for a coach who already exudes enthusiasm, and last week’s G-Day game offered Grantham his first taste of what life is like inside Sanford Stadium.

"It was awesome.” Grantham said. “The fans are great, you know? Everybody's got their red on. I look forward to seeing it filled up.”

It will be a few more months before that happens, but when Georgia opens its first season with Grantham on the sideline, the coach’s lofty expectations won’t be limited to just his players.

“We need to make sure that stadium becomes a benefit to our defense because if they're loud, with the things we're going to be doing, it will be very difficult for an offense to change plays, change protections,” Grantham said. “When you're loud at home, the offense has to go on a solid count. That means that everybody's looking for the ball. So basically the advantage that normally the offense has is no longer there. So I'm definitely going to encourage our fans to be as loud as they can from here on out."


Marlon Brown spent the majority of the spring in a green non-contact jersey and he finished G-Day without a catch, which all might be a good indication that 2010 could look far too much like his disappointing 2009 campaign.

But while Brown may still be a bit shy of where he’d like to be in terms of progress, his teammates think he’s light years ahead of where he was a year ago.

“I see some qualities I didn’t see last year,” fellow sophomore receiver Rantavious Wooten said. “He’s gotten faster, he’s getting in and out of cuts and moving better than he did last year. He’s lost some weight, too, and I credit that to him. I think he’s ready to play.”

Given the lack of depth at receiver this year, Brown won’t be looked at as a luxury this season as he was last year when he caught just two passes as a true freshman.

Much of his shortcomings in 2009, however, could be attributed to a lack of experience after he played at a small high school that didn’t provide anything close to SEC caliber competition.

But those problems have been largely rectified in the past few months, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said, and that’s a credit to Brown’s dedication.

“A lot of times that has to do with being more comfortable with the offense and getting more comfortable with his ability to execute things,” Bobo said. “That comes with practice. We’re definitely pleased with Marlon. I like how he comes out and doesn’t back down. He’s very physical. He needs to continue to fine-tune his route running, and I think he’ll be a major player for us this year.”


On Georgia’s crowded depth chart at tight end, Arthur Lynch is clearly the odd man out for much of the spring. He lacks the experience of Bruce Figgins, the speed of Orson Charles or the versatility of Aron White. But his 39-yard touchdown catch-and-run at G-Day gave ample evidence that Lynch is still a dangerous weapon for the Bulldogs.

“I wanted to get some film on me and make some plays out there, and this was a good way to do it,” Lynch said.

While Lynch was the low man in the tight end pecking order a year ago, the Massachusetts native was also a bit of a fish out of water in Athens. Although the lack of playing time did frustrate Lynch, Charles said his teammate still felt right at home at Georgia.

“Transferring and stuff like that, it never crossed Arthur’s mind,” Charles said. “Yeah, he was upset, but he knew he had to get better, and now he’s looking good out there. I’m really excited for this year and to see how coaches are going to use us.”


In Georgia’s second spring scrimmage, Kris Durham hauled in three touchdown catches. Last week on G-Day, he was the day’s top receiver. It’s not exactly the same as celebrating a big score on a fall Saturday, but there’s no doubt that after a year on the sideline following a shoulder injury, Georgia’s lone senior receiver was thrilled to be back at work.

“It makes you appreciate the game more and appreciate everything everyone goes through,” Durham said of last year’s lost season. “I was kind of on the outside last year, so I’m just looking forward this year to being back in the mix.”

Georgia’s coaches are excited about the possibility, too. The Bulldogs’ receiving corps will be a bit green – with only A.J. Green having more than 20 career receptions. But Durham provides a veteran presence that Richt said will be crucial in 2010.

“Kris is so valuable because he knows every wide receiver position, he can get to the line of scrimmage and make sure everybody gets lined up properly,” Richt said. “He’s a tough guy you can throw screens to – because not many guys want to take the ball over the middle like he will. He can play inside or outside receiver, he’ll block, and he’s a leader.”


His freshman season started slowly, but once Rantavious Wooten got onto the field, things began to click quickly. After catching just two passes in Georgia’s first six games, Wooten grabbed a reception in five of the team’s last six regular-season contests and earned the confidence of his coaches.

This season, Wooten is hoping to build on his strong finish to 2009, but he’s not expecting to be treated like one of the veterans just yet.

“I just want the ball,” Wooten said. “I don’t know what Coach Bobo or Coach (Tony) Ball have in store for me, but I just want to show them that I can play, and hopefully they see that and try to get me the ball. That’s all I can hope for.”


Corners Brandon Boykin and Vance Cuff shared the spring award for most improved players on defense, and Richt credits a good bit of that to the impressive work being done by first-year defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos.

“One thing about Coach Lakatos that I see, he’s a great technician and he seems to communicate well,” Richt said. “I think the players have a healthy respect for him and his knowledge, and there’s been some positive results which gives guys more faith in what’s being taught.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey David-
Justin Houston was named one of the 5 New SEC stars to watch by, they think he plays for Florida. Hopefully he gets a lot of playing time in their backfield.