August 10, 2010

Burrows, Stripling learning the ropes

A relative lack of depth at outside linebacker would seem to dictate that Brandon Burrows and T.J. Stripling have an opportunity to contribute as true freshmen this fall.

Perhaps that's so.

But before they can worry about that, Burrows and Stripling both say they have a lot to learn.

"We're getting acclimated, that's the biggest thing," Burrows said. "The older guys have been showing us the ropes; we're just trying to work out wherever we can."

It's definitely been as adjustment.

As most freshmen will tell you, it's a big step going from high school to big-time college football, especially in a situation like Georgia.

Besides getting used to playing against better, faster athletes, there's also the challenge of picking up a new defensive scheme like the 3-4 being stalled by new defensive coordinator Todd Gantham.

"Guys are faster and stronger, but when it comes down to it, it's all about heart and I think I've shown I've got a lot of heart," Stripling said. "I think I've shown a good mind in that I've been able to pick up some of the new defense that's been thrown at us. I've been able to play fast off the ball. There are some things I'm good at and some things I've still got to work on."

At least through the first seven days of preseason drills, both Burrows and Stripling are playing behind Justin Houston and Reuben Faloughi at Will linebacker with Darryl Gamble, Cornelius Washington and Chase Vasser at Sam.

It's believed that freshmen Dexter Morant will work at Sam once he begins full-squad workouts later this week.

Meanwhile, Stripling and Burrows will continue learning as much as they can just as fast they can.

"The linemen are a lot quicker, but for me it's the same mindset I had when I went from middle school to high school," Stripling said. "It's difficult, but you adjust and hopefully one day I'll be dominating in college like I was in high school."

Stripling is certainly getting the opportunity to prove himself against the best as many of the drills thus far have seen the former Southwest DeKalb star matched up against starting right tackle Josh Davis.

"Josh is real good with his hands and his drop-backs are quick," Stripling said. "He's a guy who's helped me progress a lot."

Stripling smiled when his weight suddenly became the topic of conversation.

At 6-foot-6, the lanky Stripling currently weighs just 217 pounds, but that's still a far cry from the 205 he weighed as recently as last May when he competed at the state track meet in Jefferson.

For Burrows, it's his knee that gets the most questions.

The former Walton standout didn't play his senior year after recovering from ACL surgery, but insists he's completely recovered and has been practicing without any issues or constraints.

"Yes sir, right now the knee is great and I hope it stays that way," Burrows said. "No problems there."

Will Stripling and Burrows receive playing time this fall?

On Friday, Grantham seemed to make it quite clear that with his philosophy on rotating, he's going to need "all the good pass rushers" he can get.

"It's going to be important that we get our technique down as far as our hands and our pass rush set," Burrows said. "Those are some of the things we still need to work on. There's more to playing the position than just rushing the passer."

In certain situations, Stripling believes he can help the position, too.

"I feel I'll be able to go out there and do some little things every now and then," Stripling said. "Obviously, I don't know as much as Houston, Washington and those guys, but I think I'm picking up the defense at a good rate, at least to where I can come in behind those guys."

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