SEC: Georgia spring 2010

Video: Chat with Darryl Gamble

March, 4, 2010
3/04/10
4:00
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SEC blogger Chris Low talks with to Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Now that it’s done, Georgia coach Mark Richt doesn’t care what the perception out there is.

He doesn’t care how many people were connected to his lengthy search for a new defensive coordinator. He doesn’t care how many people received big, fat raises because they were connected, and he doesn’t care that some of the people who were connected were never formally offered the job in the first place.

Brandon Boykin
Brett Davis/US PresswireCornerback Brandon Boykin and the Bulldogs will play more of an attacking style of defense under Todd Grantham.
All he cares about is that Todd Grantham is on the job.

“My only goal was to get the right man,” Richt said. “My prayer was regardless of what path I took that in the end I’d get the very best man for the job, and we got that in Todd. I’m 100 percent convinced of that.”

A new era for Georgia’s defense begins later Thursday afternoon when the Bulldogs open spring practice. Grantham, who comes over from the NFL, brings a 3-4 defense with him that is becoming the rage in college football.

It’s very similar to the two defensive schemes we saw in the BCS National Championship Game this past season. Alabama runs it, and so does Texas.

The common denominator there is Nick Saban. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp worked under Saban, and so did Grantham at Michigan State.

In fact, Saban tried to hire Grantham as his defensive coordinator when Saban took the Miami Dolphins’ head coaching job. But Grantham picked the Cleveland Browns’ coordinator job instead because it was closer to his family’s home in Pulaski, Va.

"I worked under Dom Capers, and he's a 3-4 guy, too. So is Wade Phillips," Grantham said. "They all have their things you take from them."

Simply, it’s a defense predicated upon hitting the quarterback and making that guy’s life miserable on Saturday afternoons.

And the only stat that really matters to Grantham is winning.

“We want to attack people,” Grantham said. “And when I say that, that doesn’t mean you’re always blitzing. You’re attacking them mentally and physically. The most important guy on the field is the quarterback. If you look at all the teams that win, usually at the end of the year, their quarterback probably played well.

“So, defensively, you have to stop the run, but you also have to affect the quarterback. You can do that multiple ways. One is with pressure and the next way is by disguise. The quarterback likes to get a pre-snap read and know where he’s going to throw the ball. You’d like to be able to show something and then take it away.”

Speaking of taking it away, the Bulldogs were last in the league a year ago with 12 takeaways, including just two forced fumbles.

“We had some fumbles last year we just didn’t get on and some passes that were going to be intercepted and bounced off people’s helmets and things like that, but we’ve just got to make more things happen on defense,” Georgia junior cornerback Brandon Boykin said. “In this defense, we’re not going to sit back. We’re going to pressure, and that starts with getting after the quarterback.”

(Read full post)


SEC blogger Chris Low talks to Georgia defensive end Demarcus Dobbs about the Bulldogs’ changes on defense.
ATHENS, Ga. -- I had a chance to meet with Georgia coach Mark Richt, first-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and several of the players earlier Wednesday.

The Bulldogs open spring practice on Thursday, and here are few thoughts, notes and other nuggets:

Richt said overhauling his defensive staff in the offseason and firing Willie Martinez, John Jancek and Jon Fabris was the most difficult thing he’s ever had to do professionally.

“I can’t think of anything else that was more gut-wrenching for me -- period,” Richt said. “They’re quality men and quality coaches, too. It just got to the point where I felt a change needed to be made to get where we wanted to go.”

Richt said he wasn’t pressured by anyone at Georgia or on the outside to make the move.

"No, it was strictly my decision," he said.


The feeling around the SEC is that Alabama and Florida have run off and left everybody else in the league.

Richt said it’s hard to argue that based on the last two seasons.

“They did the last couple of years, but this is a new year,” said Richt, wearing his familiar smile.

“You’ve got to give credit to Florida and Alabama. The last two seasons, they’ve taken it over. But again, it’s a new season. Everybody’s got to prove it again.”


Richt said he doesn’t anticipate coming out of spring practice with a starter at quarterback.

Redshirt freshmen Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger will battle junior Logan Gray for the job.

“The goal is to get the right guy,” Richt said. “ If we can determine that after spring, that would be great to know throughout the summer who that guy is. But I think the chances of that are going to be fairly slim.

“The thing about the quarterback position as you evaluate it is that you’re not going to be able to play a game with him, because we’re not going to hit that guy. Now, if we decided to make every quarterback live, we’d probably know a lot more about him at the end of the spring. But it’s not worth taking that risk.”

And even when the Bulldogs settle on a starter, Richt said that could change once the games begin.

“You may think you’ve got your No. 1 and then you start playing the games and you’re on national TV and the bullets are flying,” Richt said. “Sometimes, you’re three, four or five games into it before you get a gut feeling of who it should be or you’re really certain who it should be.”

Murray is up to around 210 pounds. His goal is to be at 215 by the time the season gets here.

He came to Georgia weighing 195 pounds and said two years of participating in the Bulldogs’ strength and conditioning program has made a huge difference for him.

“The big thing is being able to take the pounding you take at quarterback in the SEC,” said Murray, who rushed for more than 900 yards as high school junior, but only played part of his senior season after breaking his fibula.


Richt said sophomore running back Washaun Ealey has really taken off in the offseason conditioning program and is even faster and quicker than he originally thought.

“Washaun will only be better next season,” Richt said. “He will be in much better condition, will understand much better what we’re trying to do, and he’ll understand what it means to play in the league.”

Ealey was on the receiving end of the now infamous eye-gouging attempt by Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes last season.

Ealey maintains that he has no hard feelings against Spikes and even said Spikes wasn’t the first Florida player to try it in last season’s game. Ealey said safety Ahmad Black also stuck his fingers through Ealey’s facemask earlier in the game.

“He never got to my eyes,” Ealey said. “Those kind of things happen in emotional games. It’s not something you want to happen, but it does happen.”


As a rule, Grantham thinks the 3-4 defense will allow the Bulldogs to be more balanced against multiple formations.

He said the version of the 3-4 the Bulldogs will play is very similar to what Alabama is running under Nick Saban. Grantham worked under Saban at Michigan State.

“It’s a little bit unusual as far as you can’t always declare who that fourth rusher is,” Grantham said. “There are more ways you can easier pressure the quarterback out of the 3-4, I feel like.”

One of the first priorities for Grantham as the Bulldogs make the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 this spring is evaluating who can actually play the outside linebacker position and who can’t.

Justin Houston, Cornelius Washington and Montez Robinson will be starting out as outside linebackers.

“Even though we have some names there, we have to find out who can do it and then the other thing is trying to find our depth in the secondary,” Grantham said. “Who can play different positions?

“We’ve got a stack of guys and have to shuffle through them and see who can help us. Maybe some of those inside guys will have to help us at outside linebacker. That depth chart is going to change a lot.”


The Bulldogs are particularly thin at cornerback, and it’s no secret that they will need to stay healthy there. One guy to watch is redshirt freshman Jordan Love, who has looked good in mat drills. He had an injured foot last season. Grantham said sophomore Sanders Commings would also work at cornerback this spring.

Junior college newcomer Jakar Hamilton, who’s already on campus, is a good bet to be one of the Bulldogs’ starting safeties in 2010. Grantham has really been impressed by what Hamilton has done during the offseason program, and sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin said Hamilton is somebody he’s eager to see on the practice field beginning Thursday.

“We’ve been doing passing drills, and he’s looking good,” Boykin said. “I can’t wait to see him when we get the pads on. He’s getting it in the film room as well.”


One of the things Georgia defensive end Demarcus Dobbs likes about the switch to the 3-4 is that he feels like it’s going to free him up to make more plays.

“From the things we’ve been watching on film, there’s more freedom,” Dobbs said. “It’s more attack, attack, attack, and you’re not sitting back. I’m excited to see what it’s going to look like when we get out there.”

Video: One-on-one with Aaron Murray

March, 3, 2010
3/03/10
3:41
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SEC blogger Chris Low talks with Georgia redshirt freshman Aaron Murray about the Bulldogs’ spring QB race.

Checking in on the Georgia Bulldogs

March, 3, 2010
3/03/10
10:44
AM ET
ATHENS, Ga. -- I'll be spending most of the next two days in Athens checking in on Georgia's football team.

The Bulldogs open spring practice on Thursday, and I look forward to catching up with coach Mark Richt as well as first-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. This obviously is a huge spring for the entire program, particularly on defense with all of the new coaches and the switch to the 3-4.

I'd say there are a few Georgia fans out there who would also like to know who's going to be the starting quarterback next season.

Check back later Wednesday and again on Thursday, and I'll have several updates from the Bulldogs' camp as they point toward what should be a wide open race in the Eastern Division in 2010.

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