Sure, the 3-4 front was unveiled, and Georgia coaches gave a taste of who was starting where and playing there.
Other than that, the knowledge possibly derived was little to none.
“They haven’t seen none of the defense,” said safety Jakar Hamilton. “This was none of it. That’s just the basics.”
New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham brought the new scheme from the Dallas Cowboys, with descriptions tagged as aggressive, blitzing, confusing and hard hitting.
However, on Saturday Grantham left his unit in a base package with little in the way of blitzing, keeping fans, and potential rival scouts on edge about the true inner-workings.
Coach Mark Richt acknowledged the fact that defenders couldn’t go full attack mode with the quarterbacks being protected, but Grantham didn’t want to tip his hand anyway.
Players were quick to offer the defense was in vanilla mentality Saturday, in hopes of easing the minds of fans who may doubt, and warning scouts trying to get an early leg-up.
“There’s so much to this defense that we have in store, so to the fans, we’ve got a lot that’s coming and that we’re putting in,” Hamilton said. “So, SEC, be ready.”
Despite the basic package, the first team enjoyed a near perfect day. Had it not been for a blown assignment on a Kris Durham touchdown catch, the starting offensive unit would have been held without a touchdown. Linebacker Marcus Dowtin snatched an interception, and lineman Deangelo Tyson recovered a fumble.
Players say the progression from the first scrimmage, two weeks ago, is tremendous. Defenders are beginning to react instinctively, ditching uneasy hesitation, and are closing in on running full speed all the time.
“Oh yeah, it was a big difference getting into this scrimmage from the first one,” said outside linebacker Justin Houston. “The first one, they’d call a play and everybody was looking around, asking what to do. We won’t know for sure until we watch the film, but today everybody was making more plays, had more confidence, and just having a lot of fun.”
Only 15 practices to learn a brand new scheme, some players laughed in amazement following the scrimmage at just how fast the learning curve had to be.
“When we were first putting it in, they were putting in five new plays, and then five more plays, everyday we had to go out on the field and know what we just learned 20 minutes before,” said defensive end Demarcus Dobbs. “It just felt like they were throwing a lot at us, but it was for a reason. The more we repped, and the more we got into our playbooks, everything started coming together.”
Even offensive counterparts couldn’t believe how much was thrown at the defensive minds so early.
“It really is incredible,” said quarterback Logan Gray. “I thought it was almost insane how much they were doing from day one. They were blitzing and doing all this stuff. They’ve really picked up on it fast.”
Players say the defense is on the right successful track. After only 15 practices, the job is far from finished, but G-Day proved what this defense is capable of, Dobbs said.
“It’s just going to take guys getting in the weight room, guys staying in the playbooks, and getting better at technique,” he said. “We had a pretty good day [Saturday], but just imagine if everybody took this momentum and just carried on throughout the whole summer. Imagine how good we can be when everybody is more comfortable with the whole system.”
Added Gray: “The defensive coaches have pushed the pedal to the metal, and made sure these guys were studying their playbooks and knowing what they were doing before they got on the field to practice. A lot of our defensive guys really stepped up to the challenge, and came out and competed every single day, and learning what to do.”
Grantham’s Bulldogs stand now on the verge of comprehension and accountability, ready to burst to the next level. The terminology and concepts have been lectured throughout spring. Now, players have four months to prepare for fall camp.
“We’ve still got a lot to learn, but we’ve improved,” said safety Bacarri Rambo. “Day 1, guys were like, ‘We’re never going to get this.’ But now we know what we’re doing. Now everybody’s got to go out there and communicate. That’s the biggest thing we’ve got to improve at.”
Injuries, and off the field incidents withstanding, Houston says this defense has a bright future ahead. With how well the team picked up the defense this spring, he sees potential for a dominating effort come fall.
“Oh man, I think it’s going to be an amazing season,” he said. “Once we get everybody on the same page, and everybody going hard, it’s going to be an amazing season.”