September 15, 2009

Anderson adjusts to life as a starter

Georgia Tech defensive tackle Ben Anderson made a touchdown saving tackle in the Clemson game on the goal line on an important third down play. Anderson's play was the first big production moment for the Jackets new defensive tackles and they will have to step up their game for the Miami Hurricanes Thursday night on the road.

Anderson credits the atmosphere during the Clemson game for getting the defensive tackles going.

"We all definitely played better and I think the competition level got jacked up," Anderson said. "That is not putting Jacksonville State down, but Clemson is a higher level and that upped our intensity."

This week, going on the road for the first time this season, Anderson expects a similar environment to the Clemson game only with the hostility of playing on the road and a more talented line going against them.

"For our first game to be on the road in Miami it will be a pretty intense game," he said. "Miami has a different blocking scheme than Clemson and some bigger guys, but we are going to approach just like we did with Clemson."

Anderson and fellow starter Jason Peters were feeling the pressure to step up their games after the Jacksonville State game.

"We got our motivation and intensity up because we had a higher level of competition to face," Anderson said. "We needed to step up to the plate."

Defensive line coach Giff Smith has been rotating two units for the most part with Anderson and Peters as the first unit and T.J. Barnes and Logan Walls comprising the second unit. Walls saw extra snaps rotating in for Anderson and Peters at times without Barnes.

"We were definitely tired on Thursday, but we had a good rotation going and Coach Smith takes care of us with that," he said. "Coach Smith likes to keep us fresh and keep us healthy. He wants to have guys who are ready to go out there, not guys who are tired."

Anderson says Coach Smith's rotation is designed to keep the starters on the field at key moments like third downs.

"The lower snap counts help when it comes to getting tired out there," he said. "Jason and I will be in for three or four snaps and if they get a first down, they will take us out and Logan and T.J. will go for two snaps and then we are ready to go back and be fresh on third down. It works well like that."

The expectations were set high given the success of last year's defensive tackles, Darryl Richard and Vance Walker, but Anderson and the other linemen are still learning their roles in the defense. Anderson expects them to improve as the season goes on.

"Against Jacksonville State I did not really have the game I wanted to," Anderson said. "I think I was playing too timid because it was the first game, but for the Clemson game the intensity level went up and I just had to make plays when we needed me to."

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