February 26, 2010

Bulldog defenders embracing change

Marcus Dowtin spoke in a calm, thoughtful fashion. But make no mistake; the junior linebacker couldn't be more excited about the changes being brought by new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

According to Dowtin, he's already been told by Grantham that he'll be playing "Mo" as one of the two inside linebacker positions in the Bulldogs' new 3-4 scheme.

"Basically, I'm very excited because for me I'm going to be able to play free and be a lot more aggressive than I was before," Dowtin said. "Coach Grantham and Coach (Warren) Belin are going to give me a chance to show what I've got, and that's a good thing for me, so I'm happy with the (defensive) change. I'm happy and so are the other guys. I sense a lot of excitement around here."

Ironically, before meeting with Grantham, Dowtin saw himself as an outside backer. Not anymore.

"I kind of wanted to be on the outside, but Coach Grantham sees me at a certain spot, so that's where I'm going to play," he said. "I'm looking forward to it."

Seniors Darryl Gamble and Akeem Dent are expected to join Dowtin on the inside, most likely at the Mike position, although the players know nothing will be officially etched in stone until practice gets underway.

Gamble said his new role will involve a lot more communication than it has in the past.

"There will be more communication, especially on my part," he said. "I've got to be able to see more, get the line, even the DBs adjusted to what's going on in front of us."

Although the players won't be able to actually get on the field until practice begins Thursday, there have been plenty of film sessions to at least give players a visual idea of what they can expect.

"Coach Grantham will put it on the board, draw the Xs and Os then show it live on the tape with the Cowboys to show us how it's actually run," Dowtin said. "Basically, he says put yourself in that position; see yourself making plays."

Players have not only been picking the brain of Grantham, but in the case of safety Bacarri Rambo, have been quizzing new defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos on some of the new techniques he plans to employ.

"In my meetings with Coach Lakatos he's shown me a film of how the NFL DBs train, and that's going to be the similar way he's going teach us," Rambo said. "I take notes on everything he says because I know it's going to help me out in the long run."

Rambo has already noticed a difference in Lakatos' methods as opposed to what he's been used to before.

"It's a whole lot different, especially with the footwork that Coach Lakatos is teaching us," Rambo said. "Most coaches in the NFL run the same thing as Coach Lakatos is teaching us. It's a whole different footwork thing. I'm very excited."

So, how fast will the Bulldogs pick up their new scheme?

Gamble doesn't believe it will be as long as some might think.

"You've still got basically the same personnel, it's just that the ends are standing up and can do more things with your four linebackers," Gamble said. "It's pretty much the same as far as the basics, but you can do more things."

Gamble believes the defense has done a decent job picking up those basics.

"We've learned a lot of the basics and things to go on," Gamble said. "I think practice will be very high tempo. Guys should already know what to do but as things get adjusted we should transition better."

Belin has made a quick impact as well.

Although Belin's style differs greatly from former linebacker coach John Jancek, Gamble said Georgia's newest assistant has no trouble getting his points across.

Players have been very receptive to his style.

"Coach Belin is a high faith guy. He's a lot quieter that Coach Jancek but he gets his point across," Gamble said. "He's a lot more reserved but he will let you know if you did something wrong, but he'll also tell you when you do something right. He seems to be a good guy and I'm happy to be a part of his linebacking corps."

Dowtin is as well. He's also ready to prove to his new coaches that he'll do whatever it takes to succeed.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm going to do things the right way and make sure I show respect to my coaches and make sure I'm doing things each and every day," Dowtin said. "There's not going to be any excuses when I'm out there on the field."

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