Tim Tucker has done a yeoman's job taking over for Chip Towers as the Dawg Beat writer for the AJC. However, this link title
Much has been said, written and hand wrung over since last year's showing from the D Ends. When you go from top in the conference in 2007 with 42 sacks, to near the bottom (9th) in 2008 with 24, that is what will happen.
A couple of changes this year will make a difference. First and foremost, full contact tackle practices. Proper tackling isn't instinctive. Ask Greg Blue. Players are more interested in making hard contact first. If you think I am wrong, think about the quotes from the defensive players after the first day of contact drills. Universally, they were disappointed that they did not make 'solid contact.' Look, I like to see a strong safety blow up a running back as much as the next guy. However, I would much rather have some lineman make a boring textbook tackle at the line of scrimage every time. It is just a higher percentage play and a win for the D.
Second, there is a strategy change, Marcus Washington and Daryl Gamble will come off the end in nickle situations. Both bring serious speed on obvious pass downs. Combine that with Rennie Curran in the middle to stiffle any possibility of a quick draw and offensive coordinators now have to count on more than over pursuit and poor angles from the D end position. It will be interesting to see what O line coaches will do with that combination. A bonus will be having Demarcus Dobbs and Rob Battle back in the mix (both are projected to start in Stillwater).
One more note and I'll talk about this more later, but any Georgia Tech fan counting on a repeat of last year's second half debacle obvoiusly doesn't understand Heisenber's Uncertainty Theory. Counting on the past to repeat itself and being certain that you have Georgia's defense figured out, absent Jim Donnan coaching Georgia or Reggie Ball under center, is shear lunacy. That itself is another reason to believe the D end position will be more of a factor, in a good way, than it was last season. It cannot be much worse.