Although you can't tell it by the tone of his voice, Marcus Dowtin couldn't be more pumped about the beginning of spring practice Thursday afternoon.
With good reason:
The rising junior was recently told by new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham that he'd be lining up at the Moe linebacker spot for the Bulldogs.
In other words, Grantham has given Dowtin the go-ahead to do something he's wanted to do ever since arriving on campus three years ago - get after the opposing quarterback.
"This is very exciting for me because I'm going to be able to be free and be a lot more aggressive than I was," Dowtin said. "Coach Grantham and Coach (Warren) Belin really seem like they're going to give me a chance to show what I've got. I'm happy with the change. I'm happy with progress I'm seeing; I'm adapting to it well."
Ironically, when Grantham first came on board with the Bulldogs, Dowtin first envisioned himself an outside backer in Georgia's new 3-4 scheme.
But after talking with his new coach 'Moe' suits him just fine.
I kind of wanted to play outside, but Coach Grantham wants me to play a certain spot so that's where I'm going to play," he said. "From the plan that's being set, it looks like it's going to be a successful move so I'm just looking forward to it."
Dowtin, who last year played Mike in Georgia's 4-3 scheme, has already noticed a few subtle changes in the position he used to play.
"As far as I can see the Mike position will have a little bit more stress on them than they had in the 4-3," Dowtin said. "The linemen will be able to climb a little quicker, but we'll be able to adjust to it quickly."
As a Moe, Dowtin said he will line up directly behind one of 3-techinque players adjacent to the nose.
This, he said, will not only enable him to "hide" behind one of his bigger-bodied teammates, but give him that freedom to make plays in the opponent's backfield.
Dowtin believes his teammates will adjust to the new scheme faster than many might think.
"It's going to be quick. It's not that hard," he said. "We're getting our plays one section at a time, we're going over it in detail and the guys are working together to relay it back in regards to some of the coverage we used to run."
Still, there will be differences.
For example, players like Dowtin will have to get used to a brand new terminology. Hearing it in film sessions is one thing. According to Grantham, understanding on the practice field can sometimes be another.
But that's going to be part of the deal that Dowtin and his fellow backers will have to adhere.
"We're going to use our language, there might be something where a guy can say "same as" but the terminology we'll use is what I'm used to," Grantham said.
Still, Dowtin is confident the necessary adjustments will be made and the Bulldogs will have made significant progress come time for the annual G-Day April 10.
"I can't wait till we get on the field because we've got a lot of good athletes; great athletes on the field," Dowtin said. "It won't be hard for us to adjust to the 3-4."
Grantham and Belin have certainly made an early impression on Dowtin, who started four games for the Bulldogs last fall.
"I can't speak for everybody, by Coach Grantham and Coach Belin has taken an interest in me, they encourage me and help me out when I need help. They're definitely player-friendly," said Dowtin. "The first impression is always the best impression so right now I'm just trying to do the right thing. I don't know about the other guys, but as far as I'm concerned I have to do everything right, make sure I show respect to the coaches. As long as I do that, there's not going to be an easy excuse for me not being on the field."
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