Certainly nobody at Georgia is intentionally trying to throw Todd Grantham under the bus. But their comments about how the defense is being run this spring and its effect on the whole team have not enhanced the former defensive coordinator’s reputation with the Bulldogs.
The general theme of commentary coming not only from defensive players but also from offensive players is that the tone and pace of practice is considerably more intense under defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who succeeded Grantham in January. In addition to taking over the Bulldogs’ defense, Pruitt conferred with coach Mark Richt about re-configuring the format of practices.
The players have taken notice.
“The coaches really want to see us succeed, and they’re always available for us,” said junior outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who had Grantham as a position coach the past two years. “They’re just going the extra mile compared to last year. … The coaches and the players we got now, we never really held each other accountable before; we’d let some people slide. If somebody’s acting up, not doing something right, we get onto them. On and off the field, you’ve got guys looking out for each other and always holding everybody accountable.
“We’re trying to focus on being mature about our craft and putting in the effort to get everybody better.”
Said cornerback Damian Swann: “It’s constant coaching. Everything is fast-paced, there’s really not a break. You’re going from field to field and drill to drill. And it’s competition. We do our individual work and our teaching work, then it’s competition against the offense. And that’s what’s going to make us better. Once we continue to learn what’s going on, I think we have an opportunity to be great.”
The high-intensity tone emanating from the defense has bled over to the offense.
“Coach Pruitt has brought a new attitude to this defense, and that kind of mirrors and reflects on the offense,” quarterback Hutson Mason said. “When the defense is energetic and flying around, it kind of motivates us and creates a lot of energy. So guys are flying around to the ball. That’s not something you saw a lot of last year. … We’re just trying to practice and preach intensity and flying to the ball.”
Punt team: As of Friday, which was Georgia’s sixth practice of 15 this spring, senior Adam Erickson remained the No. 1 punter.
Erickson, a walk-on from Athens, overtook Collin Barber toward the end of last season. Also the holder on placement kicks, Erickson played in every game last season and had 13 punts for an average of 40.5 yards.
Barber, who signed with Georgia in 2012, averaged 44.1 yards on 29 punts last season. But he mishandled a couple of snaps and had two punts blocked and lost his starting job the last few games of the season.
Etc.: Offensive tackle Watts Dantzler missed Friday’s practice while recovering from a concussion suffered late in Thursday’s practice. … Rising senior right tackle Kolton Houston said he has not decided if he will petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. He said it’s not something he could do until December anyway. … Zach DeBell (6-foot-5, 273 pounds) worked some at left guard Friday. He mainly had played left tackle behind John Theus.