Day 1 of spring practice for Dogs’ defense: ‘We all looked lost today’

(Updated 10 p.m.)

ATHENS — Mere minutes into spring football practice at Georgia, Todd Grantham did not like the way his players broke from a huddle. So the Bulldogs’ new defensive coordinator ordered them to do it again with more enthusiasm.

The revamping of the Georgia defense began in earnest Thursday, the first day of spring football for the Bulldogs and the first day on a practice field with college players in 12 years for the intense Grantham.

“You can tell he came from The League,” said safety Nick Williams, meaning the NFL. “You can tell he’s used to coaching grown men.”

Grantham, an NFL assistant  for the past 11 seasons, began the process of converting Georgia’s former 4-3 defense to a 3-4, meaning three linemen and four linebackers rather than vice versa. Many players took the practice field in unfamiliar positions.

For example, former defensive ends Justin Houston, Cornelius Washington and Montez Robinson were playing outside linebacker.   And their transition is tame compared to that of Richard Samuel, who has moved from running back to outside linebacker.

“We all looked lost today,” Houston said, “so [Samuel] fit right in.”

After practicing the 3-4 for the first time, Houston conceded that the transition might be a bit more difficult than he thought from watching film.  “There was a lot of stopping and looking around,” he said. “It’s not as easy as it looks on film. Those guys in the pros make it look easy.” Houston said the biggest adjustment for him and the other ends-turned-linebackers is dropping back in coverage on occasion.

Defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson, who is playing the nose position in the 3-4, said he was encouraged that “we didn’t have as many mental errors as we thought we would have” in the opening practice.  “As we continue learning, we can play faster,” he said.

Georgia opened practice with three defensive coaches who were working elsewhere when the Dogs were last on the field –  Grantham, formerly with the Dallas Cowboys; inside linebackers coach Warren Belin, formerly at Vanderbilt; and secondary coach Scott Lakatos, formerly at Connecticut, who donned red pants for his first UGA practice.

“I got a chance to walk around the field a little bit and observe our new coaches do their job,” head coach Mark Richt said after practice. “I just thought they looked locked in. They were very decisive about what they were doing. They all looked like they had been working together for quite some time.”

Grantham and the other assistants were not made available for interviews after practice.

Players said the new coaches brought new teaching methods, new styles, new philosophies. But not everything was new.

“Ultimately it’s all the same,” Williams said with a smile. “When you do something wrong, you get your butt chewed out.”

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As promised, the three candidates for the starting quarterback job –- Logan Gray, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger –- divided snaps evenly.

So who’s the starter based on Day 1 of practice?

“I am,” Gray said with a laugh.

Turning serious, Gray said his sense is that “no one has an upper hand” at quarterback. “I think right now, it’s just everybody trying to get better, [like] at all positions.”

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Tailback Washaun Ealey is wearing a new number:  3.

Ealey wore No. 24 –- Knowshon Moreno’s old number –- last season, but lobbied the coaches for a switch to No. 3, which he wore in high school.  Ealey said it’s  a tradition for athletes in his family to wear No. 3, which was unavailable when he  arrived at UGA last year because it was being worn by senior safety Bryan Evans.

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–  The Bulldogs’  first practice of spring ball also will be their  last for a while.  UGA’s spring break runs from this weekend through March 15, so the Dogs won’t practice again until March 16.

– Georgia lost both of last season’s starting safeties, Evans to graduation and Reshad Jones to the NFL draft. But Nick Williams, like most other observers, sees only one opening for a starting spot at the position.  “Because [Bacarri] Rambo’s got his locked,” Williams said after practice Thursday.  “He’s ready to go.” Williams returns to safety, his original position, from linebacker this spring. “I knew I wasn’t big enough” for linebacker, he said.

– These players were wearing green non-contact jerseys, signifying injury: wide receivers Marlon Brown and Israel Troupe and defensive linemen Kiante Tripp, Brandon Wood and Kwame Geathers.  Geathers was riding a stationary bike off to the side. Wood was jogging. Brown and Troupe, who seemed to be moving around fine despite hamstring tweaks, are expected to shed the green jerseys for the next practice.

– Here are the jersey numbers for the two incoming recruits who are participating in spring practice:  junior-college-transfer safety Jakar Hamilton No. 23 and freshman offensive lineman Kolton Houston No. 66. Linebacker Michael Gilliard has switched from No. 55 to 35, Rennie Curran’s old number.

– Among those playing inside linebacker: Darryl Gamble, Akeem Dent, Marcus Dowtwin, Akeem Hebron, Gilliard.  And among those at OLB: Houston, Washington, Robinson, Samuel, Chase Vasser.

– There seems to be a larger than usual amount of media interest in Georgia’s spring practice, undoubtedly because of the QB battle and the defensive makeover. About 20 media members were on hand Thursday.

Please follow me on Twitter for updates throughout spring practice.

161 comments Add your comment

Barbicide

March 4th, 2010
4:32 pm

memphisdawg

March 4th, 2010
4:32 pm

i once wore number 5

Nick

March 4th, 2010
4:39 pm

I can’t wait to see Jakar play. One of my most anticipated new players. Maybe Ealey will be faster with 3; weighs less than 24!

Oh BTW, 24 was my high school number!

Kansas City DAWG

March 4th, 2010
4:45 pm

Let us know how they look, so excited to hear how our D is looking. Thanks for the updates

Tailback U

March 4th, 2010
4:46 pm

As someone whose fav number is three I like it.
Make D.J. proud and lead the way to an SEC title
wearing his old number.

athensdawg

March 4th, 2010
4:52 pm

lets hope his yards per carry is higher than his uniform number.

11Dawg

March 4th, 2010
4:55 pm

Maybe his yards per carry could be higher than his uniform number LAST year…

SoCal Dawg

March 4th, 2010
4:56 pm

What is the most recognizable # in sports?

J Smurf

March 4th, 2010
4:59 pm

Good question…

Football: #34
Basketball: #23

MattDawg

March 4th, 2010
5:03 pm

I think Mr. Ealey will look better in #3 than Mr. Evans did.

Blindog

March 4th, 2010
5:03 pm

I don’t know about you guys,but I can’t wait to see how the quarter-back battle turns out and how the new defence operates. OH HELL YEAH !!!

BullDawgMike

March 4th, 2010
5:05 pm

Listen, I don’t care what number Ealey wears, as long as he finds the end-zone and hangs on to the ball…….can I get an amen ??

Dawg 3/20

March 4th, 2010
5:05 pm

Give him #30, for 30 years since the last National title.

Kansas City DAWG

March 4th, 2010
5:07 pm

SoCal Dawg

March 4th, 2010
5:07 pm

College football #34
Nascar #3
But in the world I’d have to go with #23 Jordan

Ace

March 4th, 2010
5:12 pm

Have you seen his grades?

Herschel Talker

March 4th, 2010
5:15 pm

#3 on a UGA football uniform going from Bryan Evans to Washaun Ealey is like #31 on a Braves uniform going from Jerry Willard and Jeff Reardon to Greg Maddux.

Columbusdawg

March 4th, 2010
5:16 pm

I can’t wait for this season to start too.

Nesbitt's ankle

March 4th, 2010
5:17 pm

Ace,
Who’s grades?

Bo

March 4th, 2010
5:17 pm

proud dawg

March 4th, 2010
5:34 pm

I just hope he resembles the “24″ of old and not the “3″ of old in his number switch.

No disrepect to Mr. Evans but we or he didn’t further his career very well. I think Ealy is on the rise and see him in the foot steps of the ole “24″.

With “3″ and King “4″ in the backfield we will see alot of 7’s and a lot of pressure will be off of the QB competition. Go DAWGS 30-24

Ace

March 4th, 2010
5:49 pm

Read them to him.

Brandon Spikes

March 4th, 2010
5:55 pm

3, 24 it don’t matter cause I be jamming my fingers in your eyes again sucka!!!

Hawk n the Ham

March 4th, 2010
6:06 pm

Thank you for your service

March 4th, 2010
6:12 pm

http://www,collegelunchboxes.com We just mailed our first UGA lunchbox overseas to a hero in the army working in Iraq. We love you and are proud, God Bless you untill your safe return. Go Dawgs.

tdog

March 4th, 2010
6:16 pm

It looks like we don’t have much of a team this year. Mabey CMR can get five wins out of this bunch. We will to rebuild and better times to come.

3 more

March 4th, 2010
6:25 pm

he wanted to match the number of losses he has left in his career to the Gators…3 more

Karl

March 4th, 2010
6:26 pm

1 is the lonliest number.

midland Dog

March 4th, 2010
6:27 pm

tdog…..what?

John

March 4th, 2010
6:29 pm

That #3 jersey is jinxed..

Don’t do it Ealey!!!

PauldingCO DOG!

March 4th, 2010
6:34 pm

what happend to Chase Vasser? nobody has been saying to much about him.

tdog

March 4th, 2010
6:36 pm

spanky

March 4th, 2010
6:48 pm

I don’t think Vasser has enrolled yet, however I could be wrong or thinking of someone else.

Here’s a thought- Gray to slotback, while Mett and Murray split time at QB. Both bring such a different style, it could aid in keeping defenses confused! It kinda reminds me of the Jackson/Johnson QB split (mid-to-late 80’s). Yes, it can be done!

FL Dawg

March 4th, 2010
6:54 pm

If Grantham didn’t like the way they broke a huddle…how far has the defense fallen? Time to get to work Coach Grantham.

VAdawg

March 4th, 2010
6:55 pm

vasser redshirted last year, he’s definitely enrolled. i havent heard much about him either though. i feel like hed be a good fit at outside backer because of his speed

spanky

March 4th, 2010
6:59 pm

Crap! I was way off,..thinking he was on OLine! Anyway, thanks for the correction. Go Dawgs!

Dawg_House

March 4th, 2010
7:02 pm

Vasser worked today with Coach Grantham at the OLB today. Injured last season, scooter wreck I believe.

how2fish

March 4th, 2010
7:06 pm

Great to see Spring Ball has started..now what 179 days till the opener!

Gratefuldawghead

March 4th, 2010
7:08 pm

Still lauging about ” 3-LY “!

jackhammer

March 4th, 2010
7:28 pm

Louie,

Where are you? Tell ‘her’ I had the phone service suspended & will call ‘her’ next week. Not to worry. Marray should win the QB job, but we’ll see.

Louie Jr.

March 4th, 2010
7:32 pm

Louie- How did your “testing” come out? Positive or negative? Wink wink.

Rabun Dawg

March 4th, 2010
7:35 pm

tdog, just where did you come up with that jewel of a comment? Mabey?

ryan

March 4th, 2010
7:42 pm

Who cares if Grantham didn’t like how they broke the huddle?

Worry about what happens after the snap.

Otherwise, it’s like worrying about how a batter looks in the on-deck circle.

Meaningless.

matt

March 4th, 2010
7:47 pm

Maybe now a bulldog in a #3 jersey will be running free in someone else’s secondary instead of ours!

VolsRule

March 4th, 2010
7:50 pm

UPDATES FROM THE PRACTICE FIELD:

– Ealey used 1-1/2 rolls of tape on his ankles.

– King wore leapard skin undershirt under his practice jersey.

– Zach Mettenberger took 3 more snaps than Logan Gray – speculating that ZM is higher on the unofficial depth chart.

– HC Mark Richt’s shirt was untucked in the back.

– DC Tood Grantham spanked each OLB on the butt at least three times – he will be announicing his favorites soon – but needs this spring to “continually feel” each OLB.

More updates to come. . . .

CentralFLDawg

March 4th, 2010
7:56 pm

VolsRule…cute, I see a future for you at the UT student newspaper writing about the honorary degree recently bestowed on AlGore

FalconUGAFan

March 4th, 2010
7:57 pm

Ryan..It does matter.. Guess you didn’t play much ball huh?

Edman

March 4th, 2010
8:27 pm

Central FLDawg……ROFLMFAO.

branden smith

March 4th, 2010
8:33 pm

Why is no one talking about me? Am I not update worthy?

Pi$$onaJacket

March 4th, 2010
8:39 pm

3 is the number of touchdowns Ealey will score each game. 30-24 still makes me smile.