Willie Martinez looks back.

Jeff Schultz talked to Coach Martinez yesterday about how his defense played last year.  Here’s how Martinez spot analyzed the four games that Schultz pointed to as Georgia’s worst defensive games of the season:

♦ Alabama (41-30 loss): “They did a good job jumping on us [31-0]. We couldn’t make a play. We settled down, and there was a moment where we had changed momentum, but we just couldn’t finish it.”

♦ LSU: “Poor tackling. Not to make excuses, but we had some bad weather that week and couldn’t practice the way we wanted. We just gave up too many big plays.”

♦ Florida (49-10): “I thought we had a great game plan. We just couldn’t overcome the turnovers [by the offense]. Defense is about changing momentum, and we couldn’t do that.”

♦  Tech (45-42): “We didn’t tackle well. We were there. Everybody knows what they’re going to do in that offense. If we tackle well, we win that game.”

I agree to some extent with what Martinez says there.  What I can’t figure out to start with is why Schultz thinks the defense performed more poorly in the LSU game than it did against Kentucky.  To me, that’s not even a close call.

But what I’m truly disappointed about is that Schultz didn’t ask the question I’d really like to hear Martinez answer – why the defense hits stretches when it completely disappears in a game, and why that’s something that’s persisted over the course of the last three or four seasons.  To me, that’s an indication there’s something problematic on a systemic basis, rather than something that can be attributed merely to injuries or a bad week of practice.

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Willie Martinez looks back.

  1. Castleberry

    Agree 100% on the disappearing act. If we can get pressure with our front four, it looks like we’re playing defense with 15 guys. If we can’t, you can pretty well count on a nail biter or loss. It seems like we fail to adjust and stop the bleeding before the game is out of reach.

  2. I don’t think that Martinez is a bad DC or anything, but those explanations are positively Weis-ian. At no point does he do anything other than blame the execution by the players. Does he ever acknowledge that he didn’t adapt his scheme to the defense?

    • Well, in Martinez’ defense, Schultz goes on to say that he takes the blame for the poor tackling.

      And he should. I don’t think Georgia’s problems on defense are particularly scheme-related – after all, Martinez is pretty much running the same stuff that VanGorder did. For me, WM’s shortcomings appear in two areas: (1) he’s not been as solid getting the players to focus on fundamentals as BVG was and (2) he’s not as good making in-game adjustments as BVG was.

      That all being said, give WM a good pass-rushing end or two, and he looks a lot smarter.

      • Joe B.

        Hey, it was not just poor tackling against Gtu. Perhaps it was that we were covering ineligible wide receivers??????

        Please read this post: http://thebirddog.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/other-peoples-rivalries-and-the-futility-of-defending-against-the-wishbone/

        A lot of our problems seem to be MENTAL, not physical or schematic.

        We just look shell shocked and do not have the mental toughness for someone to step up and make a damned play.

        I believe the first time this occured was when Greg Blue could not STFU for the 2 weeks leading up to the sUGAr bowl debacle, then went out and looked like a 9 year old girl playing against grown men.

        Since then we have had no leaders with the mental fortitude to overcome adversity. No Pollacks, no TD’s, no Sean Jones. We just have not had a guy who would will his defense to bend but not break. We have simply broken when the going got tough.

        I think of Asher Allen whining to the refs after getting smoked by a UF WR last year, Reshad Jones arguing with his teammates any number of times after losing a man in coverage, Corvey Irvin and Wynn hitting QB’s late. Those are loser plays. That is a loser attitude.

        I love Rennie Curran and feel that he is on the precipice of of greatness, but to truly be great, a legend, you have to will your team to a higher standard. He is the guy who must do that this year.

        • Joe B.

          Here is the key piece from that blog post:

          The other thing Johnson achieved from the twins formation was a bit of sleight of hand. The cornerback followed the WR to the other side of the field to cover him. But the inside receiver in the formation was ineligible! Both receivers are on the line of scrimmage; only the one on the outside is eligible. The defense had a CB covering someone who wasn’t even allowed to catch a forward pass. In essence, the formation took a defender out of the play without even having to block him. Martinez never adjusted.

          • OnTap

            All that has to happen for that WR to become eligible is a TE has to take a step back and the WR has to take a step forward. The WR at that point become eligible.

            You see this happen all the time. If no db was out there and they did this little shift, everyone’s hair would be on fire that we had a WR uncovered.

            That little shift is something that guy doesn’t bring up. Weird, huh?

            • DawgPhan

              sssshhhh…..dont let little facts get in the way of a good willie bashing…

              • Spence

                Fine, but the DB’s ran downfield with them all game… God forbid they recognize a TE/WR shift (or lack thereof) and adjust accordingly. An extra man blitzing off the edge may have been helpful to stop Roddy Jones at some point.

  3. Spence

    Michael,

    I could not agree more. I’ve heard rumors that opposing coaches have been shocked at our lack of adjustments in-game. And if you look at the Tech game, Paul Johnson admitted he told his players about adjustments they’d make at halftime and that Tech had UGA right where they wanted them. Willie still doesn’t seem to acknowledge that maybe a systematic problem existed during the worst 3rd quarter in UGA history.

    Willie’s comments sound very much like a leader who is afraid to take personal responsibility. Sometimes it seems as though that attitude flows over into his players… but then again if I was on the hot seat like him maybe I’d put a couple people under the bus too (before I get shipped out to App. State).

    • Again, in WM’s defense – in the Tech game, there were only so many adjustments you could make when you’re running out of linebackers and safeties to deploy.

      Ellerbe and Jones basically disappeared in the second half, and there wasn’t much Martinez had left to replace them. That was tough. The triple option is hard enough to defend when you’re playing eleven-on-eleven.

      • Spence

        I guess I just get sad when Ellerbe, he the “leader” of the D and a guy on many watch lists pre-season (when everyone overlooked Rennie), and Jones, the All-everything, wind up being duds (at least for a half). Seems like those two are guys you’d expect to step up and play smart football. But that can’t be Willie’s fault either I guess.

        Either way, great post, great blog, and thanks for having us.

  4. baltimore dawg

    the best defense wm plays is in his conversations with reporters.

    • Dog in Fla

      +1 Willie bends but does not break. He knows a good interview scheme so why change the scheme no matter how badly the interview may be going. Willie knows how to change momentum, not make excuses except for the weather, turnovers by the offense and if in the highly unlikely event his defense ever offended anyone, oh well. But most important of all, Willie knows how to execute an interview.

  5. D.N. Nation

    Not really sure there was a big problem with the LSU game. Yeah, they dropped some bombs on us late in the game, but they were down three scores. It happens. No one faults Bama for giving up 30 in Athens last year, do they?

    Plus, the defense made Jarrett Lee a verb.

    As for the UK game, blech. That’s the one you want to grill him on. I’d also make note of the two long TDs in the Auburn game.

  6. Digidy Dawg

    What it came down to in the Tech game was assignment football & wraping the guy with the ball up instead of a shoulder bump. If you account for the guy that your assigned to defend & use basic fundamental tackle techniques that we all learned in pee-wee league football we win. The piss poor effort of the defense last year was pathetic. I understand why they didn’t tackle in practice, but does that mean you forget how. It’s one thing to lose, but to lose the way we did made me about as sick as the Tenn. loss in ’07. At least in the Bama game we showed heart in the second half.

  7. Pingback: Wherein a defensive coordinator defends himself « The Everything Pundit

  8. BeerMoney

    I hope our defense is a fire-breathing dragon and we destroy people this year. If we can maintain a full compliment of players on D without too many significant injuries, then Willie will not have any more excuses if we aren’t.

    It is do or die time for CWM. If we have the personnel available and can execute, he will look like a genius. If we commit stupid penalties, have players out of position, tackle poorly, and cannot create turnovers, then Willie will be finding a new job. It’s that simple. This year should be it. Period.

  9. Macallanlover

    Sad to see the number of fans who continue to doubt our coaching staff and NEVER hold players accountable. Whether CMR or CWM, they cannot make kids perform to their potential if they have no one to replace them with. They have stated their opinion (ad nauseum for years), so I will state mine: if you think the coaches are responsible for the Sugar Bowl loss against WVU, or the 2nd half performance by the team against GT last year, you are clueless. Sorry, but it has been tiring to listen to the cheap shots for 3+ years, and to see UGA forums drug down by the negativity. I know how you feel about those who see the situation differently, that has been stated thousands of times already and many fans have been driven away because of it, so spare me the scathing responses. You will have no more effect in changing my mind than the many who have tried to change yours have had. Time to look forward and support the team and the staff.

    • Spence

      So when are coaches responsible for poor on-field performances? Should Ed Orgeron not have been fired? That Ray Goff could coach, but his durn players kept dropping the ball.

      Doesn’t your argument also mean coaches are not responsible for the good plays?

      And if there’s “no one to replace” players with, isn’t that a flaw in recruiting (I find this argument not applicable, because UGA recruits lights out).

      Don’t mistake criticism for us not being Dawg fans. This isn’t a “with us or against us” situation. Also, any fan that gets driven away because other fans don’t like having 40+ points hung on us isn’t that much of a fan.

      Finally, I don’t care if I don’t change your mind. And don’t call us clueless.

      Go Dawgs.

  10. Keith

    Macallanlover,
    Evidently you are the one without a clue. I haven’t heard one coach or analyst or newspaper reporter come out and defend themselves, or the coaches for the crappy performance of the WVU game. Who do you think called the punt return when WVU faked the punt? Every player on our team turned away from the LOS and ran backwards to set up a return. Every fan with half a brain knew that fake was coming or at the very least would have called a safe zone punt return. That was nothing but coaching. Any coach worth his salt will tell you its their responsiblity to COACH up the players. CWM likes to blame the players. He needs to look in the mirror.
    Oh, and CMR takes the blame for not having the men ready to play in the WVU, Alabama 08, UT 07,
    games.

    • Will Q

      Amen on the WVU fake punt. I remember screaming at the TV “They’re gonna fake it! They’re gonna fake it!” I mean, damn, man, they didn’t have anything to lose. Nobody but nobody thought they were going to win that game.

      Damn, that game sucked.

      • Digidy Dawg

        I did the same thing Will Q. I’ve gotta say though, that you never see a team like the University of Tebow have a game where they just don’t show. Georgia seems to do that at least once a year. I know it’s hard to keep the intensity throughout the whole year especially with a scedule like we’re facing this year, but that makes it more critical than ever. If we sleep walk at all we’re going to get our butts handed to us. That’ll make for a long season.

        • DawgPhan

          What do you call the Ole Miss game last year for the gates? 5 Tos I think….not coverting on a 4 and 1 late in the game? Losing to Ole Miss at home. Blocked FG? Tebow even admitted that they werent focused for that game and would have to work harder to make sure that they were ready for each game.

          Sure I wish UGA would show up to play lights out killer football every saturday, but to say that other teams dont have the same problem is wrong.

          • Digidy Dawg

            I guess what I was saying was that when the University of Tebag doesn’t show up to play it seems to be completely differant than us. Fla. didn’t get blown out & humiliated. When we don’t show up to play we really take it to another level.