ATHENS – In his 13th season at Georgia, defensive-line coach Rodney Garner has quite the rebuilding job on his hands –- replacing three NFL draft picks and converting the returnees from a 4-3 to 3-4 scheme.
So how’s it going?
“We got to get better,” Garner said Wednesday evening. “Like I told them the other day, they got a lot of room to improve. The guys we lost off last year’s team, changing of the scheme and all of that -– there are lot of big shoes to be filled. And I’m not for sure we’re there yet.
“I see [Demarcus] Dobbs trying to take ownership, trying to be a leader. We need other guys to step up and be leaders, too. To be a good football team, you got to have leadership up front. And that’s one thing that has to emerge. Hopefully, as they become more confident in the system and become better fundamentally, maybe some of those characteristics will start to come out.”
Dobbs, a senior, is the projected starter at right end, and sophomore Abry Jones and senior Brandon Wood are competing at left end. “I can’t say Wood or Abry has taken over at that spot; they’re 1-A and 1-B,” Garner said.
DeAngelo Tyson would be the starter at the nose position “if we had to play tomorrow,” Garner said. “If you ask him, his choice would be to play one of the ends, but we’ve got to play the personnel that gives us the best chance to win.”
Converted offensive lineman Justin Anderson got some snaps at first-team nose in Tuesday’s scrimmage so that Tyson could shift to end, Garner said.
“He’s improving,” Garner said of Anderson. “He’s got a long ways to go. But he’s improving. I like his attitude. I think he’s trying to take the teaching and trying to implement it. But obviously it’s something different than he’s done his whole career here. . . . I’ve been pleased with how attentive he is and how he’s been able to retain the information.”
As for the other player at the nose, redshirt freshman Kwame Geathers, Garner said: “He’s coming. Slowly.”
Dobbs started at end in the old 4-3 defense last season and has adjusted smoothly to the 3-4, Garner said.
“I think he’s done an excellent job of adjusting to it,” Garner said. “His motor runs so high, and he plays with a lot of energy and emotion. I think the kids really respect him.”
It was just one pass in one closed-to-the-media preseason scrimmage, one of hundreds of balls Aaron Murray has thrown this month, but it must have been a really bad one.
“Sometimes an interception is a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage, and sometimes it is just a foolish decision,” Mark Richt said Tuesday. And then, leaving no doubt which category he put this one in, Richt added: “And this one in particular was not a very wise decision.”
Putting it more colorfully, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo told reporters Wednesday the pass was a “bonehead decision.”
On balance, Richt said Murray is “progressing very well,” and Bobo has had much more praise than criticism for him, too. But the coaches clearly want that ill-advised pass, picked off by freshman safety Alec Ogletree, to be a learning experience for Murray.
“Just got to make sure every once in a while, when things aren’t the way they ought to be, you don’t have to be a hero,” Richt said. “Throw it out of bounds. He just tried to force one down in the red zone, and it got picked.”