published Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Dogs' new coaches recruiting, planning

And they're off.

New Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and new secondary coach Scott Lakatos spent Thursday recruiting for new boss Mark Richt and met returning players Friday. Grantham's recruiting venture was his first since 1998, when he was a Michigan State assistant under Nick Saban, while Lakatos spent the past six years scouring the Northeast for future Connecticut Huskies.

"I didn't get called out on my accent at all, so I guess I did all right," Lakatos said Friday.

Grantham was coaching the Dallas defensive line last Sunday during the Cowboys' NFC playoff loss at Minnesota but now is juggling Georgia's recruiting efforts with evaluating the existing talent. Graduate assistants Todd Hartley and Mitch Doolittle, who gained brief notoriety by helping hold Georgia's defense together in the 44-20 win over Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl, are providing Grantham 25 to 30 video clips on every defender.

"I asked for plays on there that best describe the player," Grantham said. "So basically it's plays both in the run game and the pass game that will describe what the player does well and how the player would best fit in with what we want to do."

Georgia has just five returning defensive starters following the early departures of linebacker Rennie Curran and safety Reshad Jones to the NFL.

Grantham is changing Georgia's defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4, which only national champion Alabama employed last season in the Southeastern Conference. He believes lining up with three linemen and four linebackers will be more effective in stopping today's college offenses.

"You really don't have to declare your rusher until you see the formation sometimes," Grantham said, "so I think it gives you a better advantage over teams that are multiple formation-wise, because you don't get outflanked. It's basically adjust your 'backers. You can still be solid against the run, and you also aren't telling them who's coming.

"The thing with a 4-3 is the guys with their hands in the dirt are the guys rushing, whereas in a 3-4, I can tell you that the three guys with their hands in the dirt are coming, but one of those other outside 'backers is going to be coming 95 percent of the time. I think it gives you more position flexibility relative to the formations."

Grantham added that a 3-4 is tougher on opposing quarterbacks, citing how long it took Peyton Manning to overcome New England.

Though Georgia's search to replace Willie Martinez began Dec. 2 and took more than six weeks, Grantham said his discussions with Richt began around Dec. 19. Grantham was announced as the new coordinator Jan. 15, and Lakatos said he and Richt talked for the first time that night.

Lakatos met with Richt last Saturday and was offered the job Sunday night.

"It was quick," he said.

There is still a vacancy on the defensive side for which there is no timetable. Grantham said he and the next hire likely will split up linebacker responsibilities.

Rodney Garner, the lone returning defensive assistant, will focus on both ends and the nose position. He has been Georgia's defensive line coach since 1998, but Jon Fabris oversaw the ends the last nine years.

"I think Rodney is a very passionate guy," Grantham said. "He's been here at Georgia, and they've had success. I think if you look at where he's been before, they've had success there. I think Rodney has value, and I look forward to working with him and letting him help our defense."

Grantham is looking forward to a lot of things, actually.

"I heard that guys bark in the stands after big plays," he said. "Is that true?"

Odds and ends

Grantham believes Georgia can be better than Florida, Texas and Southern Cal by dominating a five-hour radius from its campus in recruiting. ... Lakatos on the recruitment of Knowshon Moreno: "I remember seeing Coach Garner up there at one of those combines. I was like, 'Georgia's up here in New Jersey.' There are a lot of schools between New Jersey and Georgia, so I figured this guy must be pretty good."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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