The process has been slow and converted offensive guard Justin Anderson admits there's a lot he still needs to learn about playing nose on the defensive line.
That said, with the Sept.4 season-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette now less than three weeks away, he sees no reason why he won't be ready to at least give the Bulldogs some quality snaps at the position should he be called upon.
"I think I will. That's my goal, to be ready, mentally and physically so I can help this team," Anderson said. "It's getting there; I feel like it's about there. I still need to get out of the habit, sometimes, of lining up like an offensive lineman or taking steps like an offensive lineman. It's just something I have to grow out of because I've been doing it for so long."
A junior from Ocilla, Anderson made five starts for Georgia last fall at right guard. But when new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham arrived on the scene, it was decided by coaches from both sides of the ball that the 6-foot-5, 330-pounder might be a perfect fit for nose.
So far, the reviews have been good. So good in fact, that even defensive line coach Rodney Garner had some positive words to say about Anderson, who is competing for playing time at nose along with DeAngelo Tyson, Kwame Geathers and Mike Thornton.
During Georgia's first preseason scrimmage last Tuesday, Garner decided to test Anderson by letting him get some snaps with the first-team defense on the day's second series.
"The first series we started DeAngelo but then in the second series we put Bean (Anderson) in there with our base package," Garner said. "He's improving. He's still got a long way to go, but I like his attitude, in that he's taking to the teaching and trying to implement it on the field. I've been pleased with how attentive he has been and able to retain the information. I was concerned about that with the new system, but he's done a decent job."
Anderson said the early summons caught him a bit off guard.
"To be honest, I was kind of nervous but once I got out there the butterflies kind of died in my stomach and I was able to focus," he said. "Right now I'm just trying to learn as fast as I can because the season is right around the corner."
According to Anderson, most of his issues deal strictly with technique.
Although he played some defensive line as a prep standout at Irwin County High, everything he's doing now is basically brand new. Although physically Anderson hasn't experienced any difficulties, it's picking up the little nuances necessary to be an effective defensive lineman that continues to be somewhat of a chore.
But he believes progress is being made.
"It's going real good. I've learned lot more than I knew the first week, things like pass rush, taking the correct steps and using the correct hand splits. That's a big part when you play defensive line because if you can't use your hands you can't play," he said. "I'm still learning, trying to get through my hands, but I'm doing OK with my steps, so once I get the hand techniques down I'll be fine."
Dealing with the inevitable double-team a nose faces in the 3-4 is another issue Anderson is still having to learn.
It's hasn't been easy.
"It's difficult. Those double-teams are no joke," he said. "You take a false step and you can get washed easily. That's something I'm learning day by day. I'm not perfect, but once I get a couple of games under my belt I will be ok."
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