Louisville's Grantham says no big deal to face UGa

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ATLANTA (AP) — Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is proud of the job he did at Georgia and that facing the Bulldogs in the Belk Bowl is no big deal.

Grantham spoke during a conference call with Georgia-based media, which was arranged after the No. 20 Cardinals (9-3) and 13th-ranked Bulldogs (9-3) were paired in the Dec. 30 game at Charlotte.

He spent four years as Georgia's defensive coordinator, leaving for Louisville after the 2013 season to join the staff of new coach Bobby Petrino.

Grantham said his tenure with the Bulldogs is "something I'm very proud of."

"We changed the culture. We developed a mental and physical toughness there," he said. "I think we did a tremendous job."

Grantham certainly brought a more aggressive approach to Georgia, including a postgame confrontation with then-Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and giving the "choke" sign as Florida's kicker lined up for a game-winning field goal. The Bulldogs ranked among the nation's best defenses in 2011, but struggled in Grantham's final season as a number of inexperienced players broke into the lineup.

Most notably, Georgia lost to Auburn by giving up a 73-yard touchdown on a desperation fourth-and-18 pass with 25 seconds remaining.

But Grantham noted that Georgia was mostly successful against top rivals Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia Tech during his tenure in Athens, while making it to a pair of Southeastern Conference championship games.

This season, the Cardinals rank sixth nationally in yards allowed (293 per game) and third in rushing yards (93.7).

Grantham said he doesn't view that as any sort of vindication for his final year at Georgia.

"I've always known I was a good coach and knew what I was doing," he said. "If you go back and look at the changes we were able to establish and make at the University of Georgia during the time I was there, we were able to win some games, and really put Georgia back on the map as far as being relevant.

"Obviously," he went on, "we had a really young team last year. We faced some veteran offenses and some veteran quarterbacks. Because of that, we had to take some shots with those guys. But I think they got better from it. They were able to mature, and that's one of the reasons they can have some success right now."

After Grantham left, Georgia coach Mark Richt quickly hired Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as the replacement.

There are no hard feelings, Grantham said.

"I've got a lot of respect for the people there, both the coaches and the players," he said. "This is not the first time a coach has faced a team he was coaching the year before. That's par for this business."


Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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