Dawgs Fighting For Spots

ATHENS - The theme of spring practice should be dubbed ‘competition.'

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Occupying most of the headlines coming into spring, a three-way quarterback battle figured to be the most exciting competition.

However popular the quarterback race, Logan Gray, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger aren't the only Bulldogs dealing with competition.

"It's definitely a big competition," said tight end Orson Charles. "It's competition everywhere. I mean, how am I going to get better if I don't have a competition? How is Aaron going to get better without Zach and Logan? It's competition everywhere, and that's how you get better."

The competition for playing time has noticeably picked up on the defensive side of the ball. Last spring, the defense was predominately upperclassmen laden, with most starting spots locked up early.

That's not the case this year, not with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham keeping players on their toes. Grantham has ratcheted up the competition by implementing the new 3-4 defense. No player has been guaranteed playing time, and no starting spot announced.

"It's great because it brings a lot out of players, knowing that you might not be the starter," said safety Nick Williams. "Nobody has a starting job. You can get kind of content when you know you're going to be playing as a starter on Saturday nights, so you don't practice as hard."

The winner amid all this competition? The Georgia team as whole, since players say practice has been intense, with each man bringing his best every day.

"Everybody is out there just flying around," Williams said. "And I like how the coaches are doing it. They haven't set on who is starting at each position. They have swapped everybody out, keep everybody wondering really. No one knows, so you have to come out every day with your best."

Justin Houston says he's in a familiar position. Two years ago, while redshirting during his freshman season, Houston was moved to outside linebacker. He worked in pass coverage, briefly learning how to do more than just rush the quarterback.

He was moved back to defensive end, his high school position, and enjoyed success the past two seasons, only having to pin his ears back and get to the quarterback.

Now in Grantham's new 3-4 scheme, Houston finds himself changing positions again. He's back at outside linebacker, and while he still gets to rush the quarterback on most occasions, he's trying to complete his game at the new position.

"The main focus right now, what I'm trying to do, is drop back into coverage," Houston said. "I pretty much, in pass rushing I've still got some moves to work on, but my main focus right now is learning how to drop into coverage."

Houston says the time spent at outside linebacker, even though in the 4-3 scheme, helped prepare him for his current role.

"I'm starting to get back in the groove of things, and starting to get back used to it," he said.

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