March 22, 2010

Like players, coaches learning as well

Players aren't the only ones having to get used to Todd Grantham's new 3-4 defensive scheme.

Coaches are as well.

Take defensive line coach Rodney Garner, who along with inside linebackers coach Warren Belin and secondary coach Scott Lakatos are getting a crash course.

"We're always meeting because no one has coached in this system except for Coach Grantham. Coach Belin came from Vanderbilt, Scott's from UConn, so we're all learning it," Garner said. "We're all trying to learn exactly the way he calls it, his terminology, how he wants it taught."

Garner admits it's a lot to learn.

Besides the scheme itself, the terminology and methods to how Grantham wants them applied is also something coaches are having to learn.

"It's a lot to learn, but we've got to learn it and then we've got to get it to the kids. We've got to get this package put in," Garner said. "Coach Grantham is going full speed; he's trying to get everything in so we can get good at it. But it's a lot."

Garner said players are adjusting as well as they can.

Although the Bulldogs just wrapped up their fourth day off spring drills, including Saturday's first workout in full pads, Garner said his players have appeared eager to learn.

Georgia returns to the practice field Tuesday afternoon.

"There's a lot of energy, but lot of mistakes although that's to be expected," he said. "We're installing a lot of stuff right now, but we still have to stop and correct a lot of mistakes in order to get the guys acclimated to the system."

The adjustment has been easier for those defensive linemen who have actually played for the Bulldogs in the past. It's a different story for youngsters like Derrick Lott and Kwame Geathers, two talented players but ones who have yet to suit up for a game.

"Some of the guys with playing experience for me are probably picking it up a little quicker. Guys like Abry Jones, DeAngelo (Tyson), Demarcus (Dobbs) and (Kiante) Tripp are probably grasping it a little earlier than guys like Lott and Geathers, guys like that," Garner said. "It's a lot. There's a lot that's coming at them fast, so the more comfortable they get with it, the better we will be able to evaluate them as players."

Despite the steep learning curve, Garner said he and the rest of the defensive staff aren't taking any shortcuts when it comes to installing the scheme.

Demanding? You bet.

"We've got to be demanding because we've got to get guys ready to play, especially with the guys that we lost," Garner said. "That's the main thing; we've got some big shoes to fill. Last year it wasn't so tough with Geno (Atkins), Jeff (Owens) and Kade (Weston), but now those guys are missing. We've got to get these other guys ready to play and fill their shoes."

Garner said it will probably take all spring before he's finally able to get a comfortable handle on that.

With the exception of Geathers, players including Tyson, Jones, Lott and Brandon Wood are cross training at end and nose.

Geathers is sticking to nose, but Garner and Grantham want to see the group put through a few more scrimmage situations before making their final evaluations.

"You can only evaluate (defensive linemen) when they put the pads on because they've got to be in the trenches; they have to be in the battle," Garner said. "They'll be better tested after that."

That includes Lott and Geathers.

"Their effort has been good. Now, they're still green. Derrick hasn't practiced since the first two weeks of fall camp, plus he's just learning the game of football after being a basketball kid," Garner said. "Kwame is working hard, but he's young guy who missed all of camp last year, plus the system is totally new to him. Their heads are really swimming right now, but they've got some ability. We've just got to find out how they can help us."

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