Tuesday, August 19, 2008
A CLOSER LOOK AT RENNIE CURRAN'S FIRST SEASON :
OJT for the LIBERIAN DREAM
Coming out of Brookwood High School with a zillion tackles, Rennie, at 5'-10" was too short to make the grade at big D-1 schools, right? Not so much! Last season, Rennie learned on the job combining for 50 tackles in the final 8 games of the season after having only 3 tackles in the first 5 games - two in which he did not get on the field. In the final 6 games, he had 42 tackles, averaging 7 per game. That included a 13 tackle performance against Kentucky. Here are his game-by-game statistics according to www.georgiadogs.com.
OK State - 1 assist.
S. Carolina - did not play.
Western Carolina - 2 solo.
Alabama - did not play.
Ole Miss - no tackles.
Tennessee - 5 solo, 2 assists.
Vanderbilt - 1 solo.
Florida - 4 solo, 1 assist. 2 tackles for loss.
Troy - 4 solo, 1 assist. 1 sack.
Auburn - 5 solo, 1 assist. 1 tackle for loss.
Kentucky - 12 solo, 1 assist. 1 tackle for loss.
Ga Tech - 6 solo. 2 tackles for loss.
Hawaii - 5 solo, 2 assists. 2 sacks.
I wish I could find out his total number of plays per game. But, he did start in only 5 games: Florida, Auburn, Kentucky, Ga Tech, Hawaii. When you read comments by Coach Martinez, Coach Richt and other players (see the articles linked below) it is clear that Rennie was playing on talent alone in the beginning as he was trying to learn the defense and where to be on each play. I noticed this in the WCU game. He seemed to be running all over the field but did not necessarily seem to be in the right place all the time. Obviously, he was a fast study, as he earned the starting spot down the stretch and became the most prolific tackler over the final 5 games - edging out Danell Ellerbe by 2 tackles (42 to 40.) More importantly, he seemed to be in the right place most of the time and was extremely disruptive while playing at top speed. That is the one observation that really sticks with me... how fast he plays. Indeed, the USA Today article below comments on this very point... Coach Mark Richt marvels at how much faster the defense looks since Curran got on the field, starting three of the last four games.
Curran has that special quality of being able to explode into a tackle with excellent form and at full speed. Thomas Davis was the last UGA player who made tackles with so much speed. From the ABH article below, we get this quote from Coach Richt, "Rennie Curran has really given us a boost with his ability to play with a lot of instinct and speed and he's a direct hitter," coach Mark Richt said. "You're always looking for a guy that can hit somebody square and knock them back and he's been able to do that."
More from Coach Richt in the USA Today article, "He makes a lot of direct hits, which is why he's such a good tackler," the coach said. "He has that focal point right down the cylinder, and he's able to hit it most of the time because of his speed and instincts. He plays low. He bends his knees well. He stays square to the line of scrimmage. When he's getting ready to make a tackle, his feet are closer than most guys. That's why he rarely misses. And he's strong, really strong." You can get a working knowledge of his strength from watching this video from CES in Atlanta.
Rennie lifting before arriving in Athens. Keep in mind that he was not an early enrollee in 2007.
He showed all of these skills as a true freshman. Now, as a sophomore with much more experience, imagine the possibilities as he plays with speed, aggression and knowledge of the defense. I think we are going to see several double-digit days for Rennie. He has his sights set a little higher... from the ABH article about his high school days... Curran remembers making 24 tackles in a freshman game, a number he thinks he could reach at Georgia.
"I think I can definitely," Curran said.
I like this quote from the ABH article from Coach Van Halanger... "He's the nicest kid in the world," strength and conditioning coach Dave Van Halanger said. "Then you see him on the field and he's like Godzilla."
Here are a few good articles written about Rennie Curran:
ABH before the Sugar Bowl
USA Today before the Tech Game