UGA players face big changes

ATHENS -- The 3-4 defense is so foreign to Georgia's players that, well, Demarcus Dobbs says he's never even used it on the popular "NCAA Football" video game.

"I'll probably try it now just to see what it's like," Dobbs, who played defensive end last season, said Wednesday.

Dobbs and his  teammates are intrigued, but so far uninformed, about the scheme that newly hired defensive coordinator Todd Grantham plans to install as the Bulldogs' base defense.

The players are eager to know how their roles -- and in many cases their positions -- might change as the team moves from the 4-3 defense to the 3-4, which has three down linemen and four linebackers rather than vice versa.

Some defensive tackles wonder if they'll become defensive ends. Some ends wonder if they'll become linebackers. Some players wonder if they'll need to gain weight, or lose weight, to man their new positions.

All of them figure to know a bit more about the defense, although no more about their specific place in it, after their first meeting with Grantham on Friday.

"I'm pretty much clueless [about the 3-4]," Dobbs said.

"Everybody is real anxious to learn it," DeAngelo Tyson said.

"I think it's a little bit of both ... excitement and nerves," Abry Jones said. "Players are excited that we finally got a new coach and a new scheme. We're also a little nervous because we've never run it before."

In last season's 4-3 alignment, which has two tackles and two ends on the defensive line, Jones and Tyson were backup tackles. In the 3-4, which has a nose tackle and two ends up front, they don't know where they will fit.

If given a choice, Jones said he would prefer to play defensive end, which he played in high school.

Tyson, meanwhile, said he sees himself as a 295-pound nose tackle. "I just feel I'd need to get stronger instead of bigger," he said.

Dobbs, who started all 13 games at defensive end this past season, said he has "no idea" whether he'll be an end or an outside linebacker in the new configuration.

"I'm ready to know what position I'm going to be," he said, "so I can be the best at that I can be."

How to meld Georgia's talent into the 3-4 will be sorted out in spring practice, which begins in March, and beyond.

"We have good athletes, good players, on the team," Tyson said. "We'll just see if we really have the athletes and the players to run the 3-4. ... Our defensive ends-slash-linebackers are very athletic. I think we'll benefit from running the 3-4."

Despite anxieties about how the new defense will affect individual situations, the players seem energized by Grantham's comments to the media last week that the Bulldogs will play an aggressive, attacking style of defense.

"Each and every Saturday, you want to go out there playing like a wild hog, and so I guess the 3-4 gives you the opportunity," Tyson said. "Once we learn it, we'll take advantage of it and go out there and play like wild hogs each and every Saturday."

The defensive backs, whose positions aren't specifically affected by the switch to a 3-4, hope the new alignment will result in more pressure on opposing quarterbacks and thus more interceptions.

"Hopefully we get more turnovers [by having] more quarterback hurry-ups and all that," safety Bacarri Rambo said. "I hope we get more pressure by the aggressiveness and blitzing."

Said cornerback Brandon Boykin: "It'll be very interesting this year."