Friday, August 12, 2011

Grantham's D, post transition

Being cautiously optimistic is hard as a fan when Coach Grantham speaks. The guy just makes me want to bury a helmet shoulder into Alshon Jeffery's ribcage. Year one wasn't a complete disaster, but had more than its share of lowlights. Now Grantham needs his prize recruits to mature quickly.
"We did a good job of targeting guys that could really help us and then focusing in on the top guys," Grantham said. "I think it will pay off for us down the road."
The freshmen already have shown their abilities.
In Georgia’s first preseason scrimmage Wednesday, Herrera racked up seven tackles and returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown while Moore broke up two passes and Bowman intercepted a two-point conversion.
Hitting the ground running also meant he knew he didn't already have the pieces to his 3-4 puzzle. Getting Jenkins was huge, but also getting larger players has been a noticeable change in recruiting since Martinez and Co. were let go. Damian Swann will play this Fall as a true freshman not only because he has the skills to make plays but also because he has the size to lock up with SEC receivers. If he would've made it to campus, Kent Turene would have also. Amarlo Herrera is another one. Their larger frames are suited for the style of play Grantham wants.
The 5-11, 177-pound Swann "continues to impress," coach Mark Richt said Thursday,
"If he keeps going, we’ll find a way to get him in the game," Richt said. "I don’t know if he’s ready to breakout and take anybody’s position right yet, a starting position, but he sure is working on grabbing some playing time in my mind. He’s made plays and seems to be making very few mental errors. I think he’ll help us this year."
Herrera, a 6-2, 231-pound product of North Clayton High, is backing up starting inside linebacker Alec Ogletree.
"Amarlo’s another guy that we’re wanting to get him in there," Richt said. "Strictly from a depth standpoint at that position, Amarlo’s probably going to have to play."
Richt said he’ll meet with his coaching staff as early as Sunday to discuss which freshmen appear ready to play this season.
Of course having the size and absorbing the playbook are two different hurdles. There's much work to be done says Ray Drew. And the coach that brought them to Athens is there to "help":
Said Drew, a five-star recruit from Thomas County Central: "I got all the basic stuff down, but the playbook got much larger when I got here. I had to take it as they threw it at me and do my best to learn it."
While the young talent is fighting for playing time, Richt senses that their older teammates have opened the door for the newcomers rather than closing it on them.
"I think they’re more excited than threatened by it," Richt said. "Everybody wants to fight for their job and playing time and all that, but they also like to win."
After trying to woo them to Georgia, Grantham is now attacking the freshmen he recruited on the practice field.
"He gets after it," said Moore, a safety from Griffin. "He sees you lagging around, he’ll call you out. That’s what everyone needs."
All the pieces are in place now. No excuses in 2011. I doubt no one knows that better than Coach Grantham.

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