Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Scrimmages More About Not Screwing Up

If you've been following Georgia's spring practices with any regularity (cue Fiber One jokes), you've doubtless come across the statistics from the Dawgs' first official scrimmage.

All eyes/ears/etc. are focused primarily on the Bulldogs' overhauled defense, and the QB battle between Aaron Murray, Zack Mettenberger, and (supposedly) Logan Gray. Statistically speaking, Murray and "Mett" had the most impressive games, with Gray trailing far behind.

I think that, in the early going here, a 'big' game is far less important on the positive side than laying an egg is on the negative side. Right now, coaches would seem to be looking more at who's picking things up, giving consistent effort, and protecting the football. If you'll recall, former QB Blake Barnes had a near perfect G-Day a few years back, but really never saw the field for Georgia. Just last G-Day, Logan Gray looked very impressive, but when live bullets were flying in the fall, he was hardly an option at all behind Joe Cox.

So, sure, it's nice to see a guy like WR Rantavious Wooten have a big game, and it's a good thing that Mettenberger appears to be pushing Murray for the top spot. However, keep an eye out for those statistically awful numbers. Fumbles, holding penalties, interceptions, drops, and so forth. That, to me, is going to tell the story of who's got the top spot at various positions heading into the fall.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Secondary a Primary Concern During Spring Practice

[First, sorry for the hiatus (for those of you who noticed)]

With Georgia's overhauled defense, both in scheme and coaching, one of the main improvements on the field will need to come in Georgia's secondary. The Bulldogs' pass defense was porous, and just as importantly, showed little in the way of play-making ability (Brandon Boykin and Reshad Jones had a few nice moments).

The big buzz over the last week or two was the line from one returning DB, who basically said that, under Willie Martinez, defenders were taught to generally shield the receiver from the ball, rather than turn, locate the ball, and make a play on it. This was evident even to the casual observer over the past few years, and it will be interesting to see how Georgia's corners and safeties adapt to new secondary coach Scott Lakatos' approach of playing the ball as much as the receiver.

However, tantamount to being more aggressive and forcing more turnovers is the back-to-basics (or, sadly, the first visit to basics) mentality when it comes to hard-nosed, sure-handed form-tackling. I seem to be wearing out my "-" key.

Let's face it, you need guys who play with consistency within a given system. That being said, it seemed Georgia's defense was far more concerned with a guy "knowing what to do" than playing a guy who was perhaps a little less experienced, but simply made plays (I'm looking at the Bacarri Rambo v. Bryan Evans situation). The VERY early returns on spring practice suggest that, while playing time will ultimately be earned based on the complete package, guys who are hitting, tackling properly, and making plays will be favored over guys who "know the system." That's one of the many great things about a new philosophy. Because nobody really knows what they're doing, from the 5th year seniors on down, a lack of superior talent or playmaking won't be camouflaged by a few years of experience.