Richt expects ups, downs for new defense

dhale@macon.comJune 30, 2010 

ATHENS — Under most circumstances, Mark Richt keeps a positive attitude, but even he isn’t laboring under the delusions that a new coordinator and a new scheme will immediately turn Georgia’s defense into a national powerhouse. It’s going to be a work in progress, he said, but there are reasons for optimism.

“I’m excited about the defense, but there’s going to be a learning curve,” Richt said of Todd Grantham’s new scheme. “Quite frankly, Todd’s the only one who really knows what’s going on. We’ve got the right guys, but they’re all learning, too.”

Richt said he expects a few miscues here and there while players pick up on the scheme and Grantham gets a better feel for his personnel. But while mistakes are bound to happen, Richt also thinks the aggressive style of the 3-4 scheme can help the Bulldogs — who generated a league-worst 12 takeaways last season — create a few more mistakes by the opposition, too.

“The 3-4 is a good aggressive, attacking style and it’s one where we have enough personnel to run it effectively,” Richt said. “The question is, how well will we do it, how many mistakes will we make along the way, and when we make the mistakes, what’s it going to cost us? On the other end, hopefully we’re going to pressure people enough to get them to turn the ball over more than we did a year ago.”

Richt said the game plan for now is to build a foundation this summer, then throw as much of the new defensive playbook at the players as possible during the first few weeks of fall camp. About two weeks before the season opener, coaches will pare down the plays and come up with a game plan that will hopefully be a bit easier to implement on game day. For now, however, Richt said he’s taking more solace in the impressive approach his coaches and players have shown this offseason and worrying less about the new scheme.

“It’s not so much what you run as how you run it,” Richt said. “I think Todd has got a presence about him that guys respect, and I think we’re going to get after it.”

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