Now that Signing Day is over, new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham can get down to the proverbial brass tax - evaluating his current players to see where they will ultimately fit into his 3-4 scheme.
There's a lot of work to be done.
Earlier this week, Grantham spoke about his immediate plans, and how important the upcoming days will be for him before the Bulldogs kick off spring practice March 4.
"Basically, I'll be cleaning up the evaluation process on the players and getting a preliminary depth chart in play, which would not be set in stone because we want to look at guys in multiple positions to see where the best fits are," Grantham said. "Also, it's like I said when I got there, my goal is to have the best players on the field, so they may have to play multiple positions for that to happen. We'll be moving guys around during spring to look at the best first for us and those kinds of things."
Grantham said it's still too early to say what players may wind up playing where.
Head coach Mark Richt confirmed Wednesday that Richard Samuel has been moved from running back to linebacker, while speculation remains that Justin Anderson is being primed for a move from the offensive to defensive line.
DeAngelo Tyson has expressed an interest in giving nose guard a shot, but Grantham also has to figure out how players like former ends Justin Houston and Cornelius Washington will figure into the 3-4.
Grantham said he's eagerly waiting the start of spring drills so he can start figuring out some of the answers for himself.
"I want to see the guys' competitive attitudes and I want to see them be physical," he said. "Obviously, there's going to be some teaching involved but the biggest thing I'm going to be looking for is the competitive nature of guys and guys who will play the way we want them to play."
Grantham said he will not be afraid to cross-train his linebackers in order get his best four on the field at the same time.
"When you cross-train you have a better understanding of what the other guy is doing and where you're supposed to be," Grantham said. "If you understand that guy is here and why he is there is lets you play faster. The more you know as a player, the faster you can play and that's very important."
While Grantham said there will be times he mixes in his different man and zone coverage, his basic objective when coaching defense will be just what he said when he first took the job - make life rough on the opposing quarterback.
"I like it," Grantham smiled, when asked to discuss his philosophy on blitzing.
"I think you want to mix man and zone, but I think it's important that you're able to play tight," he added. "If a quarterback is accurate and you create space in zone, you give a larger window to throw in and you're going to have a greater completion ratio."
The idea Grantham said, is to make that window as small as possible.
That's the philosophy Dallas used when it played New Orleans in the Superdome back on Dec. 19. The Cowboys beat the eventual Super Bowl-bound Saints 24-17, handing New Orleans its first loss of the year.
"We beat those guys and the reason we beat them is we had a good rush and we played man coverage on them because Drew Brees is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league," Grantham said. "Because we played man coverage and had a good rush, his window to throw the ball was very small and that basically disrupted the flow of the game and allowed us to win. Anytime you can make the quarterback throw into a small window, your chances of winning the down the down are greater. That's what we're going to try and do."
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