All in all, it was much what players and coaches were hoping for – a day in which players learned a lot, while at the same time finding some perspective on how much farther they had to go.
"It's been a while since we've been playing football, and the first day was a little rusty, but we didn't really have that many mental errors," said rising junior DeAngelo Tyson, who is adjusting to the new nose position on the defensive line. "So once we continue learning, we can play faster and have fun while we're out there."
Playing faster will be the long-term goal. In the immediate future, Justin Houston expects a bit more confusion.
A week ago, he was pretty confident that the Bulldogs would be able to execute the defense quickly after the team studied the 3-4 scheme on film – watching new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's former Dallas Cowboys players run plays. Now that Houston has had his first chance to execute the defense on the field, he's backtracking a bit on that enthusiasm.
"There was a lot of stopping and looking around," Houston said. "It's not as easy as it looks on film. Those guys in the pros make it look easy."
While the adjustment may not be quite as smooth as Houston and his teammates initially predicted, that doesn't mean they aren't excited about the changes.
"This is just a fun defense to play in," said Williams, who is moving from linebacker to safety. "You're running around making plays. You're not just assigned to one gap. You're making plays. You never know who's blitzing, the safeties are always running and moving around. It's fun."