Kade Weston hobbled into the team meeting room at the Butts-Mehre Building much like he always does before squeezing himself into one of the seats designed for a person almost half his size.
"It was tough out there," said Weston, pausing to catch his breath before a recent interview with UGASports.
When you play defensive tackle for the Georgia Bulldogs, there are very few easy days. Position coach Rodney Garner sees to that.
"Coach G always stresses being mentally tough," Weston said. "If stuff starts getting in your head, you feel you might be too tired, or whatever, you've just got to make yourself push through it."
Weston laughed that Garner will make sure of that.
The 6-foot-5, 316-pounder recalled that's a football lesson Garner taught him early on in his Bulldog career.
"It was my freshman year, we were over at the Stadium and Coach Garner had me go seven reps in a row," Weston said. "Something was just not right. It might have been my hands, footwork, but he made me stay out there until I got it right. After that, I told myself I'd better start getting it, just get it right and get it over."
Unfortunately for Weston and the rest of his defensive line mates, there aren't many opportunities for breaks this spring.
With Jeff Owens (ACL) and Brandon Wood (shoulder, wrist) out for the spring, it's placed a noticeable burden on Weston and the rest of the tackles who have to go extra reps in practice than they ordinarily would.
"I want to say we're doing about double the reps that we would if we had everybody," Weston said. "With (Owens and Wood) that's two bodies right there, it makes it a lot difference."
Their absence has left the Bulldogs with just five defensive tackles to work with this spring, including Weston, who is currently running first team with rising senior Geno Atkins, arguably the Bulldogs' most dominant defensive player this spring.DeAngelo Tyson, Ricardo Crawford and Brandon Wheeling round out the contingent at defensive tackle.
"We're a long way from where we want to be because we're still banged up. We've got a lot to work on with fundamentals," Weston said. "But we'll get it right. It's just a matter of going out and listen what (Garner) has to say. We've just got to go play."
But just because depth is a springtime issue, Garner isn't letting his troops neglect their work habits.
"He's really stressed quality more than quantity," Weston said. "He wants to make it as crisp as possible when we're out there."
Although Weston won't admit it, he said recently that he continues to be somewhat bothered by a sore knee, the same knee he injured early in 2008. However, it hasn't limited his practice time.
"It is what it is. I've just got to push through it," Weston said. "There's still a lot of stuff I've got to work on personally to take it to the next level. There are a lot of things we need to work on if we want to put it all together."
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