At approximately 8:35 Monday morning, the full pads come on for the Georgia Bulldogs and senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens can hardly wait.
It's been almost a year since Owens last got to lay a helmet on another player since tearing his ACL in the 2008 season-opener against Georgia Southern and the Florida native can't wait to see what he's been missing.
"I haven't tackled someone to the ground in a whole year, so when I get out there I'm going to feel like a kid at Christmas," Owens said. "I just want to hit somebody."
Owens is about to get his chance.
The Bulldogs have nine practices scheduled this week, four of which will be in full pads, including three two-a-days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Georgia is scheduled to have its first full-team scrimmage Saturday afternoon.
"It's going to be a grind," Owens said.
According to head coach Mark Richt, Owens and the rest of the Bulldogs are in for a grueling week.
"We have what we call a three-on-three drills, three offensive players versus three defensive players and a runner a 10-yard chute and three downs to get 10 yards for the offense to win the drill. It's a very competitive drill," Richt said. "We also have the spider drill where there's a runner but there's three levels of offense and defensive players. There will be O-linemen and D-linemen, linebackers, tight end or fullback-type then cornerbacks-wide receiver at the tail end of the chute with the runner. Everybody has to engage, blocking, shedding of the blocks then the back has to make it through the chute."
Richt said the drills serve several purposes.
"We use these to teach everybody how to take on a block, separate, make a tackle or to block and stick on a block. I'm not exactly which ones we have planned but it will at least be one of those. There will be 11-on-11 drills, although I'm not sure if I'll thud or go live. I think - although I'm not sure - that there will be goal line (Monday)."
It's certain to be intense.
On Saturday, Richt commented that the players were already "starting to get chippy" during workouts in shells that afternoon.
"When the pads come on, the intensity comes out," Owens said. "But that's football. You want to be tough. You've got to have that aggression. I love it. I love it that guys are coming out and want to hit. It makes me want to come out and hit somebody."
So far, Richt likes what he's seen.
Although news that running back Washaun Ealey and Derrick Lott both hyper-extended their elbows on Friday put somewhat on a damper on Georgia's first week, the Bulldog coach had very little about to complain.
"I would say we're off to a great start," Richt said. "We showed a lot of energy and a lot of guys are trying to do it the Georgia way. Coaches are getting after it; we've had highly-organized practices. I've been pleased. We've shown good focus."