ATHENS, Ga. — Mark Richt has heard enough people wonder aloud if he has a proper football personality. The truth is, he’s not going to argue with anyone who says he’s an exceptionally nice guy — even if it’s not meant as a compliment.
But while Richt doesn’t plan to change his attitude on the field much, he recognizes that his new defensive coordinator may help fill a gap when it comes to that in-your-face style generally associated with football coaches.
“He’s intense, there’s no doubt,” Richt said of Todd Grantham’s demeanor on the field. “That’s what you want is a guy that’s got some fire in him. Everybody knows my demeanor and has a little bit of a feel for that. I think it’s probably good to have somebody who’s a little more outwardly excited. I do get excited on the inside sometimes, but it’s good to have that energy on the sidelines.”
For his part, Grantham said he has plenty to be excited about.
After 11 years in the NFL, being back in the college ranks has provided a healthy dose of excitement for a coach who already exudes enthusiasm, and last week’s G-Day game offered Grantham his first taste of what life is like inside Sanford Stadium.
“It was awesome.” Grantham said. “The fans are great, you know? Everybody’s got their red on. I look forward to seeing it filled up.”
It will be a few more months before that happens, but when Georgia opens its first season with Grantham on the sideline, the coach’s lofty expectations won’t be limited to just his players.
“We need to make sure that stadium becomes a benefit to our defense because if they’re loud, with the things we’re going to be doing, it will be very difficult for an offense to change plays, change protections,” Grantham said. “When you’re loud at home, the offense has to go on a solid count. That means that everybody’s looking for the ball. So basically the advantage that normally the offense has is no longer there.”
Brown on the mend
Marlon Brown spent the majority of the spring in a green non-contact jersey and he finished G-Day without a catch, which all might be a good indication that 2010 could look far too much like his disappointing 2009 campaign.
But while Brown may still be a bit shy of where he’d like to be in terms of progress, his teammates think he’s light years ahead of where he was a year ago.
“I see some qualities I didn’t see last year,” fellow sophomore receiver Rantavious Wooten said. “He’s gotten faster, he’s getting in and out of cuts and moving better than he did last year. He’s lost some weight, too, and I credit that to him. I think he’s ready to play.”
Much of his shortcomings in 2009, however, could be attributed to a lack of experience after he played at a small high school that didn’t provide anything close to SEC caliber competition.
But those problems have been largely rectified in the past few months, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said, and that’s a credit to Brown’s dedication.
“A lot of times that has to do with being more comfortable with the offense and getting more comfortable with his ability to execute things,” Bobo said.
“That comes with practice. We’re definitely pleased with Marlon. I like how he comes out and doesn’t back down, and I think he’ll be a major player for us this year.”
Corners Brandon Boykin and Vance Cuff shared the spring award for most improved players on defense, and Richt credits a good bit of that to the impressive work being done by first-year defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos.
“I think the players have a healthy respect for him and his knowledge, and there’s been some positive results,” Richt said.
which gives guys more faith in what’s being taught.”