Figuring Nose Out

ATHENS - DeAngelo Tyson ended 2009 on a high note, but to hear head coach Mark Richt tell it, that doesn't mean much anymore.

Tyson, a junior from Statesboro, finished off his sophomore season with a career-high four tackles against Georgia Tech in the Bulldogs' regular season finale last year, but then the bulk of the defensive coaching staff was fired.

In came new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and his 3-4 defense and out went any good will players had built up under the previous staff.

"That was the whole thing when we started, everybody had a clean slate," Richt said. "Part of the dynamic of this whole (defensive change) is to figure out what position everybody belongs in and part of it is the find our, are you the best. (Tyson) is fighting like everybody else. I would say there's no starter right now at that position."

Tyson, who played defensive tackle in last year's scheme, is primarily a nose this year. In the 4-3, Georgia had two inside defensive lineman – a three technique and a "shade." Tyson played mostly the shade position, which essentially the same as the nose in the 3-4, so the change hasn't been as dramatic for him as it has been for some of his defensive teammates.

"It's just more plays you have to remember and have to learn," Tyson said. "I'm pretty used to playing the nose right now, so I'm just taking from all my things and tools from last year and trying to make me a better player."

Tyson stands 6-foot-2 and weights 295 pounds, but he hopes to be playing at 290 in the fall.

"(Grantham) wants us to weigh 290 so we can be able to move a lot, go from here to there as quick as possible," Tyson said.

He'll have to do that while continuing to build strength.

"I'm working hard in the weight room trying to get stronger," he said. "We've got a good strength staff that is going to prepare me for those type of things."

While Tyson enjoys the physical nature of the defensive line, he thinks his greatest advantage comes in the intangibles of the position, he said.

"Being physical has to be my strength. There are a lot of things that go on in the middle," he said. "Only big guys can play in the middle, but I think my (biggest) strength is playing with my eyes, reading the offensive lineman's stance to tell where the ball is going to go. That should be a pretty good key for me."

Tyson, who had 11 tackles and was named to the freshman All-SEC team two years ago, had 12 tackles last year.

He thinks those numbers will improve in this new system, he said.

"Last year was a gap-type defense," he said. "We are attacking more this year than just trying to play a gap this year. It's more of a football mentality."

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