March 28, 2009

Receivers on the Ball

Getting used to a new position coach can be a learning experience for both parties involved.

But according to wide receiver Kris Durham, the adjustment from John Eason to Tony Ball as his new position coach hasn't been that big of a deal.

"He is changing some stuff," Durham said. "Coach Ball uses some different techniques and has some different mentalities that he's trying to establish."

For example:

"It may be a different release off a press, things like that. Coach Ball wants you to be more physical and quicker off the ball while Coach Eason wants you to attack more. It's kind of hard to explain but if you could see the different techniques, you could see it better than I can tell it."

No stranger to coaching wide receivers, Ball coached wideouts at Louisville and Virginia Tech before coming to Georgia where he coached the running backs upon coming to Athens in 2006.

When Eason became head coach Mark Richt's Director of Football Operations, Ball was named the receiver coach with former grad assistant Bryan McClendon taking over Ball's former duties as running backs coach.

"Coach Ball has brought in some new things and new ideas to the table and right now we're trying to zone into what he's saying and get back into the flow," redshirt sophomore Israel Troupe said. "It's a different mentality that he's bringing, but that's really about it. Everything else is pretty much the same."

There are, of course, other differences that Durham, Troupe and the rest of the receivers have to get used to dealing with.

For the first time in four years, there's no Mohamed Massaquoi to lean on, leaving sophomore A.J. Green as the lone returning "go-to" guy among the returning wideouts.

Green earned several Freshman All-American and All-SEC honors after hauling in 56 passes for a team-leading 963 yards and eight touchdowns. With most expect senior Michael Moore to help make up more for the loss of Massaquoi, Durham believes the opportunity is there for a number of receivers to make their own mark this fall.

"It's just going to depend on what the game plan and what the scheme is. Joe's (quarterback Joe Cox) is just going to get the ball to whoever is open," Durham said. "He's going to have to go through his progressions so it's really going to depend on the game plan and scheme that we're facing."

Durham, who went into spring practice as the starter at split end after catching 13 passes for 199 yards last fall, would love to be that man and welcomes whatever additional playing time he can receive.

"I hope it will increase. I'm working hard to make that a reality but I'm willing to do whatever my role is," Durham said. "If it's just to go out and catch 10-15 passes a year then that's what I'm going to do. If they want me to catch 30 passes then that's what I'm willing to do. If they want me to block or play special teams then I'm definitely going to do that. It's whatever the coaches want.

"But there's no doubt that AJ a special talent you can see just by watching. I'm sure other teams are going to scheme against him and double him. But that will just open up other guys. When they start making plays, the running backs start making plays, that's going to open him up and help him get the ball even more."

Even with the loss of Massaquoi, along with graduated seniors Kenneth Harris and Demiko Goodman, there appears to be plenty of bodies for Ball to use at his disposal.

Junior Tony Wilson continues to recover nicely from his injured foot, and is rehabbing while Troupe andTavarres King have made big strides this spring and continue to prove that they will play vital roles for the Bulldogs, who also await the arrival of freshmanRantavoius Wooten and Marlon Brown.

"Tony knows every position, all the ends and outs. He's like a coach on the field. Tavarres as stepped it up and his mentality has changed since last year and going out and playing hard, doing a lot of good things," Durham said. "I think we're in good shape."

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