October 6, 2010

Growing pains continue for D

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham got a bit snippy with a reporter Tuesday, who suggested if he would consider it a small victory if the Bulldog defense could keep Tennessee from scoring on its opening driving.

Considering the Bulldogs have allowed four straight foes to drive for touchdowns on their opening drive, it seemed like a logical question.

Maybe so, but Grantham was having none of it.

"I don't believe in small victories. You either win the game or you lose the game. I don't buy into small victories," Grantham said. "Do I get hung up on? I don't get hung up on it. Obviously, we're going to work to stop it, but hung up, no. We're going to come out and play the next series."

But what defensive scheme will the Volunteers see?

Although the Bulldogs employ a 3-4 defensive base, Georgia has also used what amounts to a 4-2-5, which Grantham said Tuesday has been employed about 40 percent of the time thus far this season.

"Some of that is based upon the situation of the game, personnel, plays they are running, things like that," Grantham said. "But we are always going to be multiple in what we do and work to put the players in the best position to where we can be successful."

That includes the front line where Georgia's youth and inexperience continues to be point of concern for a Bulldog defensive still struggling to find its way.

"The guys are work in progress," Grantham said. "I think they continue to work hard, they show flashes at times, but like the rest of our team, at times consistency and performance is what you're looking for and I think those guys work hard and as we continue to grow I see those guys being what we want down the road."

Injuries haven't helped the situation on the defensive line.

Senior Brandon Wood hasn't played since injuring himself in the South Carolina game, leaving DeAngelo Tyson, Demarcus Dobbs, Kiante Tripp and Abry Jones to see the majority of the snaps.

Last week, true freshman Garrison Smith saw his first collegiate action at end, while Kwame Geathers saw a season-high 15 reps at nose, although defensive line coach Rodney Garner seemed to take exception to the question why the redshirt freshman hasn't seen more PT.

"He's a work in progress. That's part of learning it on the practice field. Just like you write stories to earn a check, that's what he's got to do. Saturday is pay day; he's got to come out here and work to earn a check. The more he works (in practice), the more he does, the more he'll play," Garner said. "You guys just see one little play; you don't see the other 1,000 plays, OK? That's what we watch. (Kwame) is where he needs to be. … No, he's not where he needs to be, but he's playing where he is right now for a reason."

But Garner said Geathers isn't the only member of the defensive line still growing comfortable with their current roles.

"Overall we're showing some improvement, but we've still got a lot of room to improve. It's hard to gauge. I do feel like DeAngelo played his best game of the year last week, but it really doesn't matter when you lose," Garner said. "As for Woods, he's been banged up. Dobbs is getting more comfortable, but having to move inside to play the 3-technique is different for him. It's different for Kiante Tripp."

Grantham said decision to play Smith was actually an easy decision to make.

"We're going to play guys that show production, and if we've got to play freshmen we're going to play freshmen," Grantham said. "I thought Garrison showed up in practice and based upon where we were, I thought it was the right thing to do, let him get in there and get going. I think he's got a bright future, I think he works hard, and he'll get better the more he plays now, so we're going to play him."

Georgia's secondary continues to have issues of its own.

Opponents have feasted on the Bulldog secondary, which has been susceptible to big plays in all five of Georgia's games thus far.

"Obviously, we're not where we need to be right now," secondary coach Scott Lakatos said. "It's physical breakdowns, its mental breakdowns, it's missed tackles and it's technique issues; all those things combined lead to big plays."

Lakatos said he can't use the secondary's relative youth as an excuse for the problems which are occurring.

"Unfortunately, you don't have time for growing pains. The other team doesn't care how young your secondary is, they're going to run their offense and you've got to stop them. That's certainly not an excuse for the way we're playing. They've all got their plusses and minuses, they key is to make sure their minuses don't get exposed. "

Lakatos said that Jakar Hamilton, Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams will continue to get most of the work at safety, although true freshman Alec Ogletree is slowing working his way up the ladder.

Ogletree has been playing almost exclusively on special teams, although Lakatos suggested the Newnan native's time may be coming.

"He's getting better. He's getting better, we've started to work him in a little more these past couple of weeks. He seems like he's got a pretty good grasp of what we're trying to do. He's a decent communicator and he's got all the physical tools that you're looking for. He's been impressive the past couple of weeks," Lakatos said. "But there are still the issues like the speed of the game, the knowledge of where he fits and how fast you've got to get there compared to what he's used to. Those things are all part of the adjustment but I think he's starting to do some of those things."

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