July 26, 2010

Excitement building for start of camp

Georgia fans aren't the only ones excited about the change being brought to Athens by new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

Head coach Mark Richt is too.

In just another week the Bulldogs will kick off their preseason drills and like the rest of the Bulldog Nation, Richt can't wait to see what the new season brings.

There's definitely been a buzz.

"I think the biggest thing is the change defensively, to have a brand new scheme, to have a bunch of guys a little bit anxious about where they're going to play, how it's going to unfold, guys that might have been veteran starters having to prove that they deserve to be starters," Richt said. "That has provided a lot of energy for our players and for our coaching staff, too.

Other than Grantham, Richt concedes that the rest of Georgia's defensive assistants might be somewhat out of their comfort zone.

"Let's face it, Coach Grantham is really the only one that truly understands what he's trying to accomplish," Richt said. "I'm still learning it. Scott Lakatos is still learning it; Warren Belin is still learning it; Rodney Garner is still learning it. There's energy in knowing that you've got to prepare and be out of your comfort zone a little bit."

It's certainly been a transition.

When Grantham came in, he wasn't sure where everybody would fit, so to help with the process, he had Georgia's graduate assistants break down film and accumulate 30 clips of each and every defensive player to study.

From there, decisions were made.

"When we started spring ball we made a few adjustments as we went. We moved Darryl Gamble from inside to outside and we moved Richard Samuel from running back to outside linebacker to inside linebacker," Richt said. "We're trying to get everybody in the right place. Right now we think we've got them placed in the right spot."

Now, the learning begins.

According to Grantham, he was able to install his entire defensive package during the spring. Now, it's up to Grantham to help his players fine-tune that knowledge to make sure every play becomes second-nature just as quickly as possible.

"It's just a matter of learning what to do and be able to play fast and play physical; play with confidence," Richt said. "I think we've got a bunch of guys that want to do that. We probably don't have as much depth at the outside linebacker position as we would like to have. I think we must stay healthy there or we'll have to make a few fairly radical changes."

Exactly what those might be, Richt didn't say.

Justin Houston and Cornelius Washington will be the starters at Will and Sam, respectively, with Gamble, Reuben Faloughi and Chase Vasser as the only scholarship returnees.

But even that number is deceiving.

Not only is Gamble a former inside linebacker, but Faloughi is a former walk-on while Vasser is a redshirt freshman coming off a scooter injury late last year, meaning incoming freshmen Brandon Burrows, T.J. Stripling and Dexter Morant will also get their opportunity to contribute as well.

Other than that, Richt feels confident about the depth as it pertains to the rest of his defense.

"We might have some youngsters (on defense). The defensive line, I think, we had five scholarship players, interior defensive linemen leave our program last year, so there's a bunch of young guys there," Richt said. "But we do think we have the right kind of guys there to get the job done."

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