‘Tree’ turns LB from position of weakness to one of strength for Dogs

On paper, Georgia’s linebacker situation appeared to be a weakness coming into spring practice. The Bulldogs were looking to replace three of the four starters, including career starters Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble and All-SEC pass rusher Justin Houston. But what defensive coordinator Todd Grantham saw on the field over the course of 15 spring practices has him convinced the position will be a team strength come fall.

Todd Grantham pronounced the move of former safety Alec Ogletree to inside linebacker an unqualified success. (Photo by 247Sports.com)

Todd Grantham pronounced the move of former safety Alec Ogletree to inside linebacker an unqualified success. (Photo by 247Sports.com)

The reason? Two moves, mainly.

Grantham moved rising sophomore Alec Ogletree from strong safety to inside linebacker. In turn, that allowed him to move Southern Cal transfer Jarvis Jones from inside linebacker to outside linebacker.

“Those two moves were definitely the right thing to do,” Grantham said following the G-Day game this past Saturday. “It gets us more linebacker-type guys on the field and, in a 3-4, those guys make plays for you.”

The linebacker corps definitely looks to be a more sleek, swift unit. Ogletree (6-3, 225), Jones (6-3, 234), Christian Robinson (6-2, 226), Richard Samuel (6-2, 234) and Chase Vasser (6-3, 225) all combine prototypical linebacker size with defensive-back quickness.

But make no mistake about it, Ogletree was the linchpin for the success or failure of this experiment.

“If you watch him on film, ‘Tree’s’ running around making plays everywhere,” said Jones, who also played outside linebacker for the Trojans. “He’s pretty much making a play on every down. You can see it on film. I saw it. Coach saw it. He knew what he wanted. This is definitely an improvement and we can’t do anything but get better from now on.”

Said Grantham: “There’s no question in my mind Tree is going to be an outstanding linebacker. It really started back when we started doing our [video] cut-ups [after last season]. When he played safety, sometimes we played him in the box, which really is no different than a linebacker. Just watching the way he could run and hit and the way he struck guys, I started having visions of him playing linebacker full time. With our line-backing situation, I thought it was pretty much a no-brainer. You’ve got a young guy who’s going to be very big, he’s very physical and he can run. I mean, I’m looking forward to seeing him play in our system.”

If Ogletree is a former AJC Super 11 selection and five-star prospect as a safety from Newnan. If he was resistant to the position change, he hasn’t admitted it.

“I feel pretty good about it,” he said after tying Vasser with a game-high seven tackles Saturday. “I knew there had been a lot of talk about it or whatever, so I just had to talk to my family about it. They felt like it was OK if I decided I wanted to go down there. I decided to do it and I feel like it’s going to be a pretty good move for me.”

Ogletree’s playing style has drawn early comparisons to Rolando McCain, who was all over the field in Alabama’s 3-4 defense two seasons ago. People often forget Grantham’s ties to Nick Saban. He was assistant head coach and defensive line coach for Saban in the late 1990s at Michigan State and shares his defensive philosophy. Chiefly that is to be strong and athletic — and smart — up the middle.

“Once I got to see Tree line up in the box and take on blocks and diagnose those plays, I felt good about it,” Grantham said. “He’s a smart guy; he’s got instincts. And, because he played safety, he kind of understands the fits with the coverage rotations and things like that. So that part of it gives him some insight. We’ve got to work him hard because he’s a young guy that’s just going to get better.”

The hope is, so will the Bulldogs’ overall defense.

By Chip Towers, The UGA Blog

242 comments Add your comment

mcdawg

April 20th, 2011
11:12 am

what about C. Washington is he an end or OLB

AthensDawg

April 20th, 2011
11:16 am

Our Defense looks 10 times better than it did at this time last year. D will be one of our strong points this year. Been a long time since we have been able to say that.

Wtf

April 20th, 2011
11:17 am

Is it fall yet?

Bubba J. Dawgman

April 20th, 2011
11:19 am

I concur, he looks like a beast out there. With his and Samuels speed and size I’m loving these linebackers. Now if Richt would just let up and let Grantham yell at his players and show a little emotion we’d be in business. I really think these guys will turn it around this year. I just hope they’re all hungry for success and embarrassed about last year. Time to play with a little chip on your shoulder Dawgs.

chilidawg

April 20th, 2011
11:20 am

And position of safety to a weakness…

RON

April 20th, 2011
11:21 am

UGA WILL HAVE A HECK OF A DEFENSE IN 2011

Scooter McDoogle

April 20th, 2011
11:24 am

That’s a good point chilidawg, I’m not too thrilled with who we have at safety either, hell I wasn’t thrilled last year with Ogletree back there. Lakatos has his work cut out for him. We have the athletes though, we’ll get it done.

bardawg

April 20th, 2011
11:27 am

Sic’em D-Dawgs !

Dawglasville

April 20th, 2011
11:29 am

We had better get a lot, and I mean a lot, of pressure on the quarterback.

DawginLex

April 20th, 2011
11:30 am

Two freshmen, Swann and Marshall will get significant playing time in the defensive backfield. That’s good because they are athletic. That’s bad because they are freshmen.

The linebackers and d-line look set. Our first 7 on the offensive line MUST stay healthy. The true freshmen won’t be ready to play although Ward may get an opportunity just because of lack of depth/talent.

Defense must carry this bunch.

Whisky Breath

April 20th, 2011
11:31 am

Really Chip? Looks like the same ole bunch to me. The fact you have to pull a guy from safety to shore up the lb’s, is a concern. Generally when you do that it is an act of desperation. Every year we hear the defense is going to be stout. Grantham is a solid defensive guy, but CMR will bring him down. What is the goal this year, keep the other side below 40 points?

dawg from a distance

April 20th, 2011
11:35 am

DawginLex great insight and rigth on in my opinion. Go DAWGS!

gomdawg

April 20th, 2011
11:37 am

The JUNKYARD DAWGS ARE COMING 2011 BEWARE

RON

April 20th, 2011
11:37 am

ward isn’t going to play this year dawginlex he has a torn acl he’s going to redshirt.

Zoli

April 20th, 2011
11:39 am

Yes we gain at linebacker and lose at safety. Please stop crying about the move. He is not going back to safety. Let’s move forward people…not backwards. D is vastly improved with him at LB.

D A DoubleU G

April 20th, 2011
11:40 am

Mark Richt was talking on 680 The Fan on Monday, and went into detail about how he and Grantham assessed his body size and weight, and concluded that “Tree” will simply be too big to be a safety in no time.

With the new S&C, it appears Tree will be an absolute Greg Blue like beast by this time next year. Enjoy watching him now, because he already has pop. But my god just wait til he develops even more.

This is a GREAT decision.

Buckshot

April 20th, 2011
11:42 am

I still wish they would have left Richard at running back and got a decent running backs coach. He is teh only one they had that could take it to the house. No other back they have had/has any break away speed!

1eyedJack

April 20th, 2011
11:42 am

DawginLex, I’m not sure Xavier Ward will have enough “biscuits in his britches” to play next year. May need a year in the weight room and eating from the training table.

Dawg watcher

April 20th, 2011
11:44 am

Ogletree is a beast! He’s a big hitter and exactly what the dawgs needed! I watched this kid play Grayson and by far the most athletic player I have ever seen at the highschool level. Reminds me of Thomas Davis/Champ Bailey.

DawginLex

April 20th, 2011
11:47 am

Ward still hurt? I thought his knee would be recovered by summer camp.

what is the projected OL?

i know some of it

jones-Center
Glenn-left tackle

What is the rest of the projected starters? burnette? Anderson? Gates? Harmon?

Reaper

April 20th, 2011
11:51 am

Don’t fear people. The incoming class has a safety that is just as physical as Tree. Corey Moore will be a starter at the beginning of the season. This guy is the real deal and he can flat out play.

AthensDawg

April 20th, 2011
11:52 am

I think that Boykin and Smith will hold there own. Smith has worked very hard this offseason to get better at CB. Safety will be an issue this year. If Jakar Hamilton has a good year D will be complete.

Pzt

April 20th, 2011
11:55 am

Yeah baby yeah

D A DoubleU G

April 20th, 2011
11:56 am

Xzavier Ward had surgery not long after NSD, and the coaching staff and Ward have both acknowledged that 2011 will 100% be a redshirt year.

Hobnail Boot

April 20th, 2011
11:57 am

Steve Spurrier is 66 years old today. If you add up the “value” of the unique letters in “Steve” you get 66 (19+20+5+22). If you do it for his middle name, Orr, you get 33 (15+18, half of 66.) He won has one 166 games coaching SEC schools. His win percentage at USC is .571. 71 minus 5 is 66. He won the Heisman trophy in ‘66. With another 5 loss season, he’ll have 66 losses/ties coaching SEC schools. Too many sixes. Could it be…Satan?

Chip Towers

April 20th, 2011
11:57 am

McDawg: Cornelius Washington currently listed as a D-end, as in down lineman.

D A DoubleU G

April 20th, 2011
12:00 pm

Hobnail Boot…….

And that sir, is why we love college football.

Old Dawg

April 20th, 2011
12:01 pm

As our defensive coordinator told us a million times a day and during games – Hit somebody every play – and you’ll win a lot of games!

Go Dawgs!

Cassandra the Savant

April 20th, 2011
12:15 pm

Great perspectives based on a hokey intra squad scrimmage. We will see if the puppies are barking after Boise State and South Carolina.

Chip Towers

April 20th, 2011
12:18 pm

Hobnail Boot earns MVP honors for the day with that one. That took some work!

lawdawg

April 20th, 2011
12:23 pm

Chip,who is playing Justin Houston’s linebacker position next year?

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 20th, 2011
12:29 pm

agreed that the front 7 on D seems on paper to be solid. worried about the secondary and if jarvis can live up to the hype a few years ago, after all, the guy has hurt his neck on several occasions. need to make sure the depth is there.

tide roll

April 20th, 2011
12:33 pm

Sanders Commings at free safety is a great move. What’s the latest on Vidal Alexander, Joe Harris, and John Atkins. Uga fans won’t like it ( for their same archaic reasons) but these guys are great offensive line prospects. What happens is Uga won’t sign them (for the same archaic reasons}, and they end up at Alabama. Florida, or S. Carolina and lead them to titles. See: Jas. Carpenter, Chance Warmack, Rokevious Watkins, Juwuan James, Ed Christian, ad nauseum, ad infinitum. It’s crazy, but that’s Uga. It’s been that way fprever.
w

old time dog

April 20th, 2011
12:35 pm

D ADouble U G… Just full of knowledge ain’t you son? You are full of it is what you really are. Remind me of a Tech or Auburn fan. BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

tide roll

April 20th, 2011
12:47 pm

Now you’re “cross training” your offensive tackles. It’s because you have no depth. Richt should have been in Antonio Richardson’s living room the day JuWuan James committed to the Vols. not three weeks before signing date. Then, Uga has Jesseman Dunker to campus when no one is there, including Richt. Dunker’s now a Florida Gator. Looking forward to him “Muschomping” you Dogs in Jacksonville again. That game needs to go home and home, or to the Dome every other year. You’ve lost 19 out of 23, and one of your wins was against a lame duck coach (Ron Zook). Unbelievable!

great move

April 20th, 2011
12:47 pm

If you watched last year, it was the run that was killing us. the problem with the 3-4 is it’s easy to run up the middle because the nose gets doubled and moved out of the way. Now we can hit lattimore before he picks up some momentum. Lets just get our turnovers, and win off of field position.

JB

April 20th, 2011
12:49 pm

We better be able to put pressure on passers because i have not seen a DB lock down anyone since Champ Bailey.

JB

April 20th, 2011
12:54 pm

tide roll…………….You are in a good place as of now. What’s unbelievable was Tuberville’s fear the thumb era at Auburn when you guys couldn’t buy a win against Auburn. Things go in cycles. You guys even lost 3 games last year….and need a miracle not to lose three this year. Go worry about Bama.

DawginLex

April 20th, 2011
12:57 pm

tide roll,

I can’t wait to see Tyler Wilson light up your secondary this year.

Another team passes the Tide on the way to the West title.

What excuses will it be this year?

You have no QB. And don’t feed me the crapola about “they were playing against NFL players.”

BS

A few comments

April 20th, 2011
12:58 pm

A few comments:

1. Four different SEC teams have won the last five BCS championships.

2. UGA was not one of those teams.

3. During that period, UGA did not win the SEC championship.

4. During that period, UGA did not even win its SEC division.

5. Red panties.

In other words, UGA has sunk into total irrelevancy both regionally and nationally.

So why is UGA paying Mark Richt millions of dollars a year?

D A DoubleU G

April 20th, 2011
12:58 pm

old time dog,

How are the girls serving jello in the dining hall looking today?

Good luck in bingo tonight.

Drop your obsession with my posts old man. You NEVER have anything constructive to add.

D A DoubleU G

April 20th, 2011
1:00 pm

Tide Roll,

Bama had all the talent in the world last year. Amazing QB, returning HEISMAN TROPHY winner, 2nd best WR in the nation, a STACKED defense…….

and you go 10-3.

Coaching the problem?? I’d say so.

Roaddawg80

April 20th, 2011
1:02 pm

Ogletree move does cause some safety issues but, I say going into fall that Sanders Cummings will move permanately to safety the way Brandon Smith has come on. So that leaves Boynkin and Smith at CB(Jordan Love in nickel situations), and Rambo and Cummings at Safety. Alot of knowledge and expierence with those 4 guys will pay off. Everyone just calm down.

some more comments

April 20th, 2011
1:02 pm

“A few comments” – if uga is irrelevant, then why are you spending time reading a uga blog? sounds like you find them relevant.

D A DoubleU G

April 20th, 2011
1:03 pm

Oh man…..

I feel really bad now. I just talked down to “Tide Roll”, and then i found these clips of him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RN0DczbPznY

I need to go to confession.

1eyedJack

April 20th, 2011
1:03 pm

It should be fun watching Ogletree’s career. Too bad Zander wasn’t an identical twin. I hear that boy will lay the wood to you.

dougsmugs.com

April 20th, 2011
1:05 pm

I can’t wait to see the weights of the roster come fall. The S&C program is bulking these lads up with muscle and speed. I think they will take Boise apart on opening day.
UGA News Search – Boise

Pago Pago Dawg

April 20th, 2011
1:05 pm

Can we just beat UF!

Roaddawg80

April 20th, 2011
1:07 pm

JB

Thats because Champ Bailey was one of a kind. Those are once a decade type players.

DawginLex

April 20th, 2011
1:08 pm

a few comments dude needs a blankie and a nap

just a few comments for you dude

1.)You suck
2.)You are a retard
3.)Mark Richt has won 96 games in 10 years and 2 SEC titles
4.)It was 20 years since we won an SEC title
5.)Mark Richt and anyone with a brain knows he is on the hotseat for 2011(that may or may not include you)
6.)You suck
7.)You are boring
8.)You need to get some new cut and paste material
9.)Get a dog,cat, blow up doll or something to pass the time
10.)Did I mention you suck?

A few salient comments for you.

Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!