Most of what went on during the first day of spring practice was pretty predictable. The new coaches were noticeably vocal, snaps were divided evenly between the three quarterbacks, the defensive players looked pretty tentative as they found out putting the new 3-4 scheme into practice isn’t as easy as the Dallas Cowboys made it look on film, and everyone talked about how excited they were to be back on the field and looking ahead to a new season.
But there were a few reports that caught my eye. The Dogs had only four healthy scholarship wide receivers, as Israel Troupe and Marlon Brown wore noncontact jerseys (due to hamstring problems from the mat drills, Rentavious Wooten told the Athens Banner-Herald). Last year it was having a thin tailback corps that complicated spring practice; this year looks like it’s going to be the receivers.
The new-look defense didn’t just confuse the defenders. Brandon Boykin told The Red and Black that QB Zach Mettenberger “was saying how he didn’t know what was going on with the movement, so that’s pretty fun being able to confuse people.” And Nick Williams told Bulldogs Blog’s David Hale that tailback Caleb King complained the 3-4 scheme was going to be tough to compete against in practice. Not bad, considering the defense doesn’t really know what it’s doing yet.
Or should we be concerned that a not fully installed defense was already causing confusion on the part of the offense? No, I don’t think I want to go there just yet.
Meanwhile, although a lot is up in the air this spring in Athens, there appears to be one certainty, at least according to Williams, who was pleased by his move back to safety from linebacker. He told The Red and Black he thinks everyone other than Bacarri Rambo is competing for one open safety spot because “Rambo has his locked … he’s ready to go.”
I like the sound of that.
NOT ALL ABOUT BLITZING
New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has talked about the importance of going after the quarterback in his 3-4 defensive scheme, but he explained to ESPN.com’s Chris Low that it’s not all about blitzing. “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. … 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.”
Grantham told Low his other goal for the Dogs’ defense this spring is to become more physical. “Being physical is being a good tackling team, because what that does is eliminate big plays, which goes hand in hand with not giving up a lot of points. If you’re giving up points, then you’re probably giving up big plays. But if you make teams go the long, hard way and don’t give up big plays and make them earn it, then you can usually find a way to stop them.”
Like I’ve noted before, Grantham is saying all the right things. Now he’s just got to get his players to execute.