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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Notes: New Beginnings for UGA's Ends

By FLETCHER PAGE

Former Georgia defensive ends Cornelius Washington, Justin Houston and Montez Robinson were pegged as perfectly suited to play outside linebacker in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme.

All reports indicate the trio is thriving, but in their absence, the defense end corps is a bit of a mystery. Outside of senior Demarcus Dobbs, there aren’t many proven players at the position. Dobbs said that’s OK.

“I think we’re holding up pretty well,” he said. “The defense ends that have moved down to end from last year for the 3-4, I think we’re getting it. It’s takes time to get used to the spacing, and the 3-technique. It’s different. It’s a different experience, but in due time, with the help of coach [Rodney Garner] I think we’re getting it.”

The 3-technique differs from last season’s normal 5-technique look. Grantham’s scheme employs both techniques, but the end slated to use each differs from play-to-play.

Ends in the 3-technique line up outside of the offense guard, and are responsible for maintaining outside leverage. Those in the five, line up outside of the offense tackle. The change sounds easy, but it’s fairly complicated for a group who played only the 5-technique for years.

“It’s more quick,” Dobbs said of the 3-technique. “It’s more fast, and it’s kind of hard to adjust to. [Garner] doesn’t have us moving around that much, but those are the two positions that we mainly play.”

Dobbs is a projected starter, but points to a few other names who, although unproven, have done well thus far in spring.

“I think Brandon Wood is coming along well,” he said. “There’s a couple of mental errors here and there, but his physical ability, you can see it on film. You can tell the guy has a bunch of potential.

Kiante Tripp, he has that big body. He has an NFL-type body. All he needed was an opportunity, and I think he’s taking advantage of this opportunity to really shine.”

BOYKIN IN AT NICKEL

With his play last season cornerback Brandon Boykin essentially locked up a starting position for this season.

Nothing is guaranteed, but Boykin doesn’t plan on relinquishing the spot he grabbed three interceptions from in 2009.

With his play, Boykin also earned added responsibility.

When Georgia employs nickel coverage, with an added defensive back, it’s Boykin who slids down to cover the slot receiver.

“It’s not much of a difference because when the corner moves into the slot, it’s just like the nickel,” Boykin said.

The real change, Boykin said, is learning the blitzing packages. From his nickel spot, Boykin will be asked to cover bigger receivers in the slot, and at times, to rush the quarterback. The added tasks matches Boykin’s style, since he says he loves to plays physical.

“There’s a lot of similarities, but for me personally, it’s learning the nickel,” Boykin said. “My freshman year I played the nickel, but it was in coach [Willie] Martinez’ scheme and it was a little different. In this scheme, we have more blitzes and man-to-man schemes, so that’s what’s changing.”

FRIENDLY RIVALRY

It might be the least intriguing spring practice battle, but even if being the nominal starter at tailback isn’t particularly riveting material for fans to discuss, it’s something Washaun Ealey and Caleb King are following closely.

“It’s a friendly rivalry,” said Ealey, the rising sophomore who thrived down the stretch last season. “We try to outdo each other in everything we do, whether it’s playing basketball or playing video games or just hanging around. We just always like to kid around about stuff like that, about who’s the best.”

In Saturday’s scrimmage, both tailbacks impressed, but neither exactly separated himself. King carried six times for 79 yards, while Ealey ran nine times and picked up 64 yards.
At this point, however, head coach Mark Richt isn’t exactly worrying about who the starter will be. Instead, he’s simply enthused by the effort both runners have turned in.

“Caleb and Washaun have a very good friendship, and I think they both want to be the starter,” Richt said. “They both want to prove they deserve the most carries, and I really like they way they’re practicing. Both of them, you can tell they enjoy each other’s friendship, but they are really practicing with a lot of tempo.”

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

“There’s a lot of similarities, but for me personally, it’s learning the nickel,” Boykin said. “My freshman year I played the nickel, but it was in coach [Willie] Martinez’ scheme and it was a little different. In this scheme, we have more blitzes and man-to-man schemes, so that’s what’s changing.”

By that, he means that we actually have blitzes and man-to-man schemes now.

Anonymous said...

Yay blitzes!

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:54, like many UGA fans commenting on past defensive schemes, you mistaken think UGA didn't or run man-to-man coverage. Fact is we did both. The problem was our blitzes were easily detected, from predictable people. We often got burned due to the one on one coverage, and rarely got the expected pressure.

The great thing about the 3-4 is the ability to bring pressure from anywhere along the front, and to do so on every play...if they choose. It will be more exciting for fans, but it is high risk/reward so we should get more turnovers, and will get burned more often. Let's just hope the coverage skills of the DBs improve dramatically.

Anonymous said...

What I meant at 9:54 was really more hyperbole than anything. I understand we actually DID both but we also sucked at both.

Besides, I recall a lot of 3rd and 4s or 3rd and 6s last year where we played soft zone and got hit with a curl or an arrow route for an easy first down. That was insanely frustrating.

Trey said...

I know this happens every off season when we are sitting around waiting for the season to start and we have high expectations, but this year just feels different. It feels like the players are much more focused, and both the players and the coaches are more intense. Granted my only basis for this is the quotes I have read. Any thoughts on that David? I know you spend some time with them after practice and watching practice.

UGA69Dawg said...

I think the feeling your talking about comes from the fact that there are no player who are getting their starts based on seniority. To play this year they must be the best not just be around the longest. True competition causes players to have an edge. The one area I worry about is the DL, Garner just doesn't impress me as a DL coach. He has had some of the best DT's in the business over his career but UGA got less out of them. Wait until the DT trio from 2009 get to the pros then you'll see how great they are. The same thing with Seymour and Stroud, no college team in the nation had more talent then and did less with it.

Stuart said...

haha at first I forgot about Brandon Wood, thought you were talking about this guy http://mlb.mlb.com/team/player.jsp?player_id=457420