December 29, 2010

Lott making strides on defensive line

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Derrick Lott continues to open his coaches eyes.

In a span of two days, head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham have spoken in detail about the former North Cobb star, whose rise can only help bolster a position which could use a bit more depth.

Grantham went as far to say the 6-foot-4, 295-pounder could see considerable snaps in Friday's AutoZone Liberty Bowl against UCF, despite appearing in just three games all year.

"Derrick Lott is a guy up front who's got some physical tools going. We've just got to continue to work with him, develop him and he could see some snaps in the game as we move forward because that's a scenario that we need to find out," Grantham said. "We need to maximize the players we have up there and based upon the way we have developed him through say, scout team work and with the way he's worked in bowl practice he may see some snaps."

For Lott, it's been quite the transformation.

Until just recently, Lott worked primarily with the Bulldog scout team until Grantham and position coach coach Rodney Garner started seeing enough of him to start giving him reps with the rest of the defensive line.

"Getting moved over from the scout team, that was the biggest thing for me," Lott said. "It gave me the feeling like I was getting a big promotion."

In a way, he was.

After missing all of 2009 after undergoing ankle surgery, Lott admits focus and drive took a hit, to the point where didn't attend meetings or spend as much time in the playbook like he knew that he should.

That's when a talk from roommate Abry Jones helped turn his attitude around.

"He kind of went off on me a little bit," Lott said. "I remember him telling me, 'Come on, man, we came here together, we need to start playing together.'"

Grantham said Lott's effort is paying off and if he continues to improve, will give the Bulldogs a good boost at either one of the two defensive end positions.

"He's an explosive guy, he's got some quickness to him," Grantham said. "He's got some twitch; he's just got to be consistent in his production, his technique and being consistent in the way we want things done. If he does that, I think he's got a chance to help us."

Pollack mark motivation for Dawgs?

Richt wasn't necessarily looking for any motivation for his Bulldogs, but they just might have found some in regards to UCF defensive end Bruce Miller.

The former Woodstock star and two-time Conference-USA defensive player of the year has 34 career sacks and needs just two in his final game to tie former Georgia great David Pollack, Georgia's all-time leader in sacks with 36.

"I didn't know that, but I'm glad you mentioned that," Richt said. "I might have to mention that."
Center Ben Jones said he'd definitely be up for the challenge.

"We don't ever want to give up sacks anyway," Jones said. "But with that being a Georgia record, we definitely want to keep him from getting that any way we can."

Long said he's improving

Redshirt freshman and Memphis native Austin Long said he's optimistic that the back issues he's battled since arriving in Athens have definitely improved and he's looking forward to becoming a contributing member to the Bulldogs' offensive line.

"I'm as healthy as I can be; I just need to get stronger, faster and quicker," said Long, who's practicing with the team. "It's still going to be a process but I'm ready for it. I've been working hard all season."

Long said he's working exclusively at right tackle.

"The first couple of days of practice were really awkward, but it's starting to come back to me now," said Long, who hasn't played since his final high school game. "But I know it's still going to feel weird being out there playing in that first game."

This and that

Georgia held its final bowl practice at Memphis University Wednesday by holding a one-hour walk-through. … Earlier in the day, members of the team visited St. Jude Children's Research Hospital while Grantham and selected defensive players attended a media press conference. Prior to the final workout of the season, the entire Georgia squad took part in a team luncheon. … The forecast Friday calls for rain at the game which will be televised nationally by ESPN and carried on national radio on SIRIUS channel 120 and XM channel 140. The Bulldogs will be making their 14th consecutive bowl appearance, and UGA ranks as one of the top five bowl teams of all-time in wins and appearances. Georgia is 26-16-3 all-time in bowl games including 7-2 under Richt.

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