July 5, 2009

Defense determined to correct mistakes

db]Akeem Dent[/db] won't deny it - Georgia's defense, well, it left a lot to be desired in 2008.

While injuries certainly didn't help the Bulldogs' cause, the junior linebacker refused to use it as an excuse.

"I feel like the injuries did affect us a little bit but that never kept us from practicing hard every time we went out on the field," Dent said. "I do feel like there were a couple of times where there were some missed assignments, bad tackling and things like that. Again, I'm not saying the injuries didn't affect us but they were not the reason we failed as a defense."

The thought of failing still doesn't sit well with the Atlanta native, and its memories like the losses to Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech that Dent says is help driving the defense to start correcting those mistakes right now.

[ "Anytime we take the field we want to stop our opponent. Looking at last year, last year is last year. We just want to go into this year with the mentality that we need to correct our mistakes from last year," he said. "Whether it's our fundamentals, our tackling, anything like that we're going to correct all of those things and just become a better defense as a whole."

Teammate Darryl Gamble agrees.

Although many fans shouldered defensive coordinator Willie Martinez[db] with much of the blame, players like Gamble still point the fingers right back at themselves.

"We're busy making sure everybody realizes that we're all accountable," Gamble said. "That's why when we're out there and we're making sure we're doing the right thing every time because we know our younger teammates are watching. If they see us slacking they may start to think that's OK. We're not out there cutting any corners. Guys are stepping up and showing the young guys how things should be done."

Although it's obvious early, Gamble is already seeing some similarities between the 2009 squad and the one from 2007 that went on to beat Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.

"In 2007 we had guys like Thomas Brown and Fernando (Velasco) that were there being great leaders and we're really seeing that same kind of thing now," he said. "This year we're just a lot closer which is something we kind of fell off with last year. There was not a lot of bonding going on. I can already tell its better."

Summer workouts have been relatively intense.

Players can't use pads, but still are able to work out against blocking dummies and Dent said every day they focus on the fundamentals like wrapping up and taking ball carries to the ground.

He said youngsters like [db]Chase Vasser and Michael Gilliard continue to do impress.

"All the new guys who have come in have done a pretty good job," he said. "It all started in the weight room. Everybody's come in willing to work and when we go watch film everyone has their pens and pencils ready to take notes on the things we're trying to teach them."

Gamble himself is still trying to learn a thing or two.

The Bainbridge native created some waves when the coaches experimented using him as a rush end during nickel situations and Gamble opened some eyes.

"I'm still working on it (during summer)," Gamble said. "Even if we don't use it during the season it will be a good tool for me to use in my career if I go to the next level because it will add another dimension to my game."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!