Advertisement
  1. Archive

Bucs' Goganious knows what Jaguars endure

Keith Goganious has nothing but warm memories of the place, all right. Sweating through three-a-day workouts. Not being allowed to take his helmet off in the simmering heat, or drop to a knee on the sideline, or disobey any of the fun-and-sun rules of the Jaguars' tyrannical head coach, Tom Coughlin.

But everything else was cool. For the first time in three pro seasons, he was a starter at linebacker and set a career mark by finishing second on the club in tackles.

Goganious, who signed as a free agent with the Buccaneers just three days before training camp, will revisit life under Coughlin today when the Bucs engage in a two-a-day workout at Jacksonville.

"It was tough. (Coughlin) wanted it done a certain way and he made it clear the way he wanted it done," Goganious said. "If you did it right, he had no problem with you. If you did it wrong, he had a problem with you. He did make it tough on us, but he wanted to see how far he could push you."

Eventually, Goganious realized he was being pushed out.

Despite the perception that free agents would be slow to enlist for such regimen in Jacksonville, the march of high-priced talent like Eddie Robinson, Leon Searcy, Dana Hall and John Jurkovic began in the off-season.

In addition to Robinson, the other outside linebacker job was filled on draft day when the Jags selected Illinois linebacker Kevin Hardy.

"I guess their intentions were to bring me back, but in a backup role," Goganious said. "It was kind of an insult to me, because I really tried to give my heart and soul to the club. I understand business; it's just part of the game."

Goganious was attractive to the Bucs from the start of free agency, but they never figured they could tempt him to leave Jacksonville.

Not only can he play both inside and outside linebacker, he provides playoff experience gained while playing his first three seasons at Buffalo.

"We talked to Keith early on in the process and it didn't look like at that time we had a chance to get him," Bucs coach Tony Dungy said. "He was a guy we had our eye on. He was a big part of what was going on in Buffalo, a guy who's been in the Super Bowl, and he's been in winning programs at Penn State. That was probably as big a thing of us wanting to get him as anything.

"I mentioned this to the team. The five guys we signed after minicamp _ Jay Taylor, Doug Riesenberg, Tyrone Legette, Keith Goganious and LeRoy Thompson _ all from solid college programs, national championship games, playoff games, Super Bowls _ those five guys bring the right kind of attitude."

Goganious wasn't exactly prepared for the change in latitude last season when he became the first player taken in the veteran expansion allocation draft from the Bills.

Adjusting to Coughlin's wacky rules was the first challenge, though one made easier by his days at Penn State playing under the no-nonsense Joe Paterno. Then there was the unfamiliarity with teammates and other rarities surrounding an expansion team.

The Jaguars' defense finished last in the NFL in sacks with 17 and a dismal 24th versus the run. But as bad as their defense was, the offense appeared worse.

Goganious finished with a career-high 132 tackles, six quarterback pressures and two interceptions.

"It was fun. I think the group of guys on the defensive side of the ball were really hustling and trying to win games," Goganious said.

"I did all I could and just as much as anyone else in Jacksonville. I got a chance to play every game and thought I had a pretty good season."

He's optimistic about his new team. "I'm real excited to be here. I think this team is on the way up. I can tell by the way the guys are jelling and having fun."

In Tampa Bay, Goganious is working at strong-side linebacker behind starter Lonnie Marts. He admits to being a little lost trying to learn Dungy's defense.

In fact, he'd probably feel more at home with the Jaguars today.

"You practice three hours a day in the heat and you get close," Goganious said. "You don't know each other, so you feed off each other. Those guys over there work hard, and I know the type of attitude they have. But it's just going to be like another practice. I went against those guys every day, so it's just going to feel like old times."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement