March 4, 2010

Richt pleased with first day of drills

Sure, it was just the first day of spring practice and there's a ton of work still to be done.

But as he sat down with reporters to talk about Thursday's workout at the Bulldogs' Butts-Mehre Practice Facility, head coach Mark Richt was well pleased.

"It was good just to get out there and practice football again. I enjoyed the day a lot, but I think the thing I enjoyed the most was I saw a lot of energy out there. There was a lot of enthusiasm out there. I saw a lot of guys moving quickly, coaches doing a good job of barking out instructions and players working really hard to do what Coach says," Richt said. "The execution wasn't perfect by any means, but considering the volume of offense and defense we installed today, I thought it went pretty good. We actually threw and caught the ball a little bit better than we normally do on a first day. Overall it was a good day."

It was also Richt's first day to see new assistants Todd Grantham, Scott Lakatos and Warren Belin in action for the first time.

He obviously liked what he saw. He was equally pleased with the way his defensive players seemed to be picking up the new 3-4 scheme, although he admitted there's still obviously much work to do.

"You'd think on a day like today when things are going as fast as they are, rep after rep a new coach might be a little uncertain about what's going on and not be able to coach that kid immediately," Richt said. "But when I was watching, they were very much keyed into what was going on and seemed to be very decisive about their coaching points."

Richt was particularly pleased with the tempo set by Grantham, his new defensive coordinator. The former Dallas Cowboy defensive line coach wasted no time establishing his rules and his way on his new pupils.

"They're all like that. They all get after it like that," Richt said of his assistants. "We want all our coaches to be demanding and guys respond when coaches are assertive and he (Grantham) certainly showed he can do that."

Several players appeared to be adapting to the new scheme quite well, among them former defensive ends Justin Houston and Cornelius Washington.

"I think our players are all excited. I knew two guys who were really excited when our pass skeleton starter - Justin (Houston) and Cornelius (Washington). They were hanging out there in pass skeleton and normally they're out there in the pass rush drill," Richt said. "With our defensive end situation, excuse me, with our outside linebackers, a lot of our defensive ends are now converted into outside linebackers so they're going through drills that they've never been in before."

Richt was asked about converted tailback Richard Samuel, who was moved to outside linebacker from tailback where he played for the past two years.

"He's about like the rest of the guys. I think they're all kind of lost to be honest with you because they're all learning it brand new. But that's something that should help Richard," Richt said. "If we were running the same system and everybody was experienced he might be further behind but today, I think they're all behind right now. He's about as lost as the rest of them."

Richt said quarterbacks Aaron Murray, Logan Gray and Zach Mettenberger enjoyed a solid first day.

The trio will spend the spring battling it out for the starting job.

Although Richt doesn't know if he'll have an answer by the end of the spring, he'll be pleased if the trio will just focus on how they can properly function in their respective roles.

"We're just trying to have them focus and teach them to think right so when the pressure's on they'll be able to function properly," Richt said. "Thinking is a habit just like throwing a football is a habit and if you think properly down after down after down, rep after rep, in the film sessions as you watch it, you go through the same progression over and over so you'll get in a habit of functioning properly."

Richt said the rest of his Bulldogs would do well to heed the same advice.

He almost wishes he wouldn't have to wait for the conclusion of spring break before returning to the practice field March 16.

"I told them I was kind of sad we were going to spring break because you tend to lose a little bit of your mentality, the physical and mental toughness that you develop in the mat drills," Richt said. "Spring break is spring break, but they were ready for a day like today."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!