Rennie Curran didn't sugarcoat his answer when asked about the status of Georgia's linebacker corp with the season-opener at Oklahoma State now less than two weeks way.
Sure, the talent is there. Curran even said the effort has been outstanding.
But if the Bulldog linebackers want to do their part in slowing down the Cowboys Sept. 5 at Boone-Pickens Stadium, Curran said the unit still has some shaping up to do.
"As a group we work hard as a whole, but we need to be consistent if we want to do great things," Curran said. "We're doing some great things, but not doing them over and over again. We've got to be more consistent. We've got to be able to trust each other. We've got to be consistent, every down, every distance and continue to run to the ball."
If not, one little mistake could prove costly indeed.
According to linebackers coach John Jancek, it all starts in the meeting room, long before the players ever hit the field.
"We try to break it down into stages. We start by making sure everybody is taking notes, that everybody is asking questions and doing board work, doing the film work so when we go out to the practice field we can transfer that knowledge to the drill," Jancek said. "After you apply it to the drill, you try to carry it over to a scrimmage or live situation to try and develop the consistency that we're looking for."
Leadership hasn't been an issue.
Between himself and fellow vets Darius Dewberry, Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble, Curran said the group has made sure the younger members of the unit have adhered to the plan that's in place and prepared themselves as much as possible for the season that's ahead.
They'll need to be ready.
Dewberry and Dent continue to be bothered by minor hamstring issues, meaning youngsters like sophomores Nick Williams and Marcus Dowtin, along with freshman Michael Gilliard, among others, are being counted on more than ever before.
With Marcus Washington now at defensive end, Dowtin has settled in behind Gamble at Mike, the position Jancek said he now expects the junior to play for most of the year.
"As we know Darryl is a very versatile player and can play any of the linebacker positions if we need him to," Jancek said. "But his home now is Mike, right next to Rennie. We look forward to seeing that combo a lot this fall."
Jancek hopes to have Dewberry and Dent back soon after the pair has been unable to take part in contact for almost two weeks.
'Anytime a guy is not able to practice it's obviously a concern, because when you lose reps, you lose timing," Jancek said. "I know they know what to do, but I hope they continue to do a good job with their rehab and get back out there so they can start fine-tuning their game."
The absence of Dent and Dewberry has opened the door for Gilliard, who like Gamble, can play each of the three linebacker position.
Jancek said that the Valdosta native has run with both the ones and the twos in both of Georgia's scrimmages, and has all but cemented his opportunity for early playing time.
"When he's had opportunities he's stepped in and shown that he can make some plays," Jancek said. "He's not a guy who will continue to make the same mistake over and over. I love his attitude, his dedication and his ability to learn on the run. Michael's got a real passion for the game."
Curran said it didn't take him long to notice those traits when Gilliard arrived on campus back in June.
"From the very beginning when we'd go through all the meeting and I got to see him face-to-face, I could tell he was a real determined kid," Curran said. "It's all about business for (Gilliard). It's the same way in the film room, the weight room and the practice field with him. He asked a lot of questions and took a lot of notes. He's a quick learner, and like Coach (Jancek) says, he doesn't make the same mistake over and over again."
That's a lesson Curran added that the entire unit can learn for itself.
"We've got the talent, but we just need to bring it on every play," Curran said. "That (inconsistency) was part of our problem last year. It's something we can't have happen again."
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