First impressions are everything and through three days of spring drills new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham likes what he sees.
"Once we got them on the field, I think that we have some guys who can run and some guys who are eager," Grantham said after practice Thursday. "I think we've got some talent but still have a long ways to go. I see improvement every day although I see mistakes that we cannot continue to make to be a good football team. But that's to be expected this early in the deal."
Grantham has been particularly pleased with the effort he's seeing. Apparently, his message that everyone would be starting with a clean slate has been taken to heart.
"Everybody is working hard to define their role to me and show their ability. They're showing how they want to play, they're showing that they can learn and they're showing that they will hustle," Grantham said. "That's very important to me because we're going to put guys out there who are physical and give effort. If you do that, we'll teach you. That's what we're looking for."
Lessons are being taught at a steady pace, but players are being expected to keep up.
It's one thing to watch film to learn the proper technique, but another to execute it on the field.
"What we're trying to teach them right now is the concepts of why these guys are coming, why that guy is coming or why we're playing this coverage and try to understand the concepts of everything we're doing," Grantham said. "Once they understand the concepts we'll be able to play faster. We're on track, I'm not discouraged and I'm pleased. But at the same time we have some work to do."
Saturday, the Bulldogs will go full pads for the first time this spring.
NCAA rules stipulate how many scrimmage days (3) a team can have, but Grantham said that won't limit the amount of fundamental tackling work he normally would do.
"Not really because we work on tackling even without pads on. It's all about getting in the hitting position. You've got to come to balance, you've got to understand where's my help, inside-outside leverage, if I'm on the sidelines it's all about closing down and angle, taking down a guy and going both ways," he said. "You can work on all that stuff without pads on. The thing that you're talking about is the more physical, knock 'em back. You have to do that, but at the same time you can work on other things that can put you in a hitting position."
Thursday, the Bulldogs worked out in shells.
"Today was a non-tackling day, but to me it was a thud day. What thud means is we're gonna thud 'em up, get in hitting position and we're going to hit them. We're going to try to get the ball out, which helps them as well as us then we're going to let them run," he said. "We just don't finish the play, and that's the way I've practiced for the last 12 years."
Samuel moved to inside linebacker
Richard Samuel's career as an outside linebacker lasted just two days after being moved to the inside Thursday.
"We feel he's more natural as an inside guy," head coach Mark Richt said. "We started him outside because of depth issues, but ultimately we decided that moving him inside gave him more of a fair opportunity."
Samuel joins Darryl Gamble, Christian Robinson, Marcus Dowtin and Akeem Dent as Bulldogs currently practicing at the inside linebacker position.
Richt corrects local blogger
Richt took exception to a recent blog in the Atlanta Constitution that questioned the Bulldogs' use of Logan Gray as the team's "safe" punt returner.
"I'm going to do something I don't do very often, and I very rarely read a blog but I did about the one talking about Logan Gray catching punts," Richt said. "So I'm going to try and educate whoever cares that when Logan is back there it's a time when our opponent is punting it in; it's a pooch kick."
Richt wasn't done.
"Our defense is in punt-safe to keep them from faking a punt because they're across our 50-yard line. So, all Logan is doing is making sure it should be a fair catch or let the ball hit. The fine gentleman who wrote the blog, I don't think he understands that very much," Richt said. "I just thought maybe if everybody understood that a little better they'd understand why. He was 100 percent last year making those decisions. He never bobbled a ball so I don't think that's a hard thing for him to do. We're not expecting him to return the punt because those punts don't get returned. There's no return set up."
This and that
Offensive lineman Dallas Lee had to leave early with an asthma episode. He left with Ron Courson but returned later to finish practice.
Safety Jakar Hamilton was practicing with no problem after reportedly tweaking his ankle Tuesday.
Cornerback Vance Cuff ran with the first team during the early portion of Thursday's practice.
Fullback Fred Munzenmaier and defensive lineman Jeremy Longo were in Green. ... Verbal commitment David Andrews (Wesleyan) attended Thursday's practice).
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