Blame where blame is due.

For those of you rushing to grab your pitchforks and torches to join the mob preparing to storm Castle Martinez, could I trouble you to stop and read something David Hale posted yesterday?  It’ll only take a minute.

… I noted in my blog about the defense yesterday that I thought there was a distinct correlation between the success against the run and the lack of pressure and propensity toward giving up big plays. I asked Demarcus Dobbs and Rennie Curran about that today, and they agreed. Dobbs said Georgia’s defensive line has been bad at getting off their blocks on passing plays because they were expecting run, and said the defense has been killed by play action. Rennie said it comes down to needing more film study and being better at reading pass formations, while Dobbs said the linemen have to improve on reading the blocks of the offensive line.

Now that doesn’t strike me as a problem with the scheme, or a failure to adjust.  That sounds like shortcomings in technique and preparation, which I thought were areas that fall under the responsibility of the position coaches.  Where’s all the finger pointing about that?

My point here isn’t to absolve CWM of blame with regard to what we’ve seen from the defense in the past two games.  Not at all.  For one thing, he’s a position coach, too.  It’s still amazing to me how much trouble Georgia defensive backs have with play action, something that was true even during the VanGorder years (remember Thomas Davis’ struggles in the 2004 Tennessee game?).  And this blogger makes a pretty compelling case about Martinez’ failure to adjust his defense in the face of what Petrino was doing last Saturday.

But it seems simplistic to lay off all of the defensive shortcomings we’ve witnessed at Martinez’ feet.

Nor should some of the players be immune from criticism.  Take, for example, this quote from Bryan Evans, whose uncanny deer-in-the-headlights impersonation at one key moment led to one of Mallett’s five passing TDs:

“Some plays we’re in great position to make plays, we just didn’t make them,” Evans said. “Other times, we’re just lackadaisical at getting to our positions where we’re supposed to be at. They hopped on us fast, and that’s just something we have to fight through.”

That’s a rather amazing admission there.  And there’s some hint in Hale’s latest post that Martinez is aware of that and is taking steps to address it.

… After his defense allowed 41 points against Arkansas – a second straight lackluster performance – defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said some changes could be in store.

Arkansas had numerous big plays, and Georgia struggled to stop the opposing passing game for the second straight week. The Bulldogs have allowed 721 passing yards in the past two games, and nearly all of the members of the defensive backfield have been beaten at least once, and Martinez said he thinks it’s time to see what some of his younger players can do.

“We’re going to get some other guys some more opportunities,” Martinez said. “We’ve got some young players we’re trying to get in there.”

What’s particularly striking about all of this is how confident the offense sounds by comparison.  Is that due to coaching, personnel, scheme or all of the above?  I don’t know, but if they figure it out, they ought to bottle some of it and force feed it to everybody on the other side of the ball.  The sooner, the better…

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UPDATE: Martinez speaks.

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23 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

23 responses to “Blame where blame is due.

  1. NebraskaDawg

    Evans covers WR’s like a LB. Arms up with back turned. Vance Cuff seems to have the best ball skills. Boykins been caught flat footed also. If we’re going to suck this bad on defense we might as well blitz 8 or 9 every play.

    • 69Dawg

      Read earlier on in the season one of the DBs saying that the run at the receiver waving your arms is the way they are taught to do it if they are beat on a play. I think they are confusing this with doing it every play.

  2. Brandon

    I think this still goes back to Martinez he is the captain of the ship on defense, if the position coaches aren’t coaching, who is there boss? Also, I’ve seen a lot of great defenses over the years that didn’t have to choose between stopping the run and rushing the passer so I don’t buy that either. And as far as Evans saying essentially that they are loafing some that points out another problem with the Martinez regime, I never see anybody crawl any @$$ over there after these lapses, it is pretty easy to see what the problem is since Vangorder left the players don’t have anyone they’re scared of. As for that 04′ Tennessee game, how many points did UT score? 19? 24? I don’t remember exactly but I don’t remember the problem being defense that day it was offense more than defense but mostly penalties. The most telling stat I have seen was posted here over the weekend, Martinez 55 games as DC, 13 times opponents have scored 30+, Vangorder 52 games as DC, only 1 time (the national championship LSU team in 03′) did a Vangorder defense give up 30+. We gave 38 points last year to Kentucky! I don’t say any of this because I hate Willie, its not personal, its just a crime to waste all of this talent, it is sad for our players. I vividly remember Ray Goff running our program into dirt and I don’t want to see it happen again. I hate it but if Richt continues to ignore this problem sadly its going to be on him eventually.

    • JT

      My rebuttal:
      Garner doesn’t answer to Martinez, he answers to Richt, take another look at who has what titles. In many ways RG carries more weight than Martinez, through in the fact that Fabris can’t get along with anyone and there you have one dysfunctional staff. BVG left because he gave the “its him” or “me” ultimatum to Richt, and he wasn’t talking about Martinez or Fab.
      Lastly, Pollack, Geathers, Golston, Odell, Davis, Blue, Jones, Bryant, Thornton, Jennings, Oliver, Bailey, Witherspoon, Harrison, Clemons, Moses, etc…will make any defensive coordinator look good. ALL of the beforementioned play or have played in the NFL. That is an awful lot of talent, WHO on the current defense can you say that about?

  3. Jimmy

    I appreciate you guys and your positive attitude, but how in the world is anyone lackadaisical during that game? Are you kidding me. Get after there ass on every play! This is not a good defensive mentality that our dogs are presenting this year or over the last 3 years. Actually, there is a significant difference in intensitiy since Van Gorder left. There are plenty of DC’s out there that are more aggressive and intense. The question is, how long before CMR figures this out?

  4. dean

    This lackadaisical attitude needs to be nipped in the bud ASAP. Last year the defense relied on the offense to bail it out. It seems like that’s the path were starting to go down this year. We’re not going to put 50 points on the board every game. The defensive players have to realize this, right? Right?

  5. baltimore dawg

    i agree that our safeties in particular have been vulnerable to play action, but i don’t see what that has to do with the arkansas coverage debacle. i’ve watched the game again, and arkansas hardly ran any play-action faking. and even if they had, it shouldn’t have mattered because they never established the run to give our defense too much to think about.

    i’m sorry, but most of what i see going wrong on defense is happening before the ball is snapped, as evans suggests. i would add further that what’s happening (or not) the six days prior to each kickoff is having an adverse effect on the defense’s success, too.

    i understand wanting to spread the blame–there’s a lot of it to go around. but from my perspective, when something good happens on defense, most often it appears to be the result of the prodigious individual talent of one or two players on a given play. so i’m reluctant to shift too much blame to the players. anyway, the coaches have been doing a fine job of that for the last year or so.

    • Hackerdog

      According to the blog cited in the post, 9 of ARK’s 44 pass plays were play action. And those 9 plays led to 3 TDs. I agree that we shouldn’t bite so hard on play action, but it’s obviously working against us.

  6. 69Dawg

    We are in deep do do. I don’t know of a single D position coach that is good let alone great. Fab: his boys are constantly out of position on reverses or sweeps. Garner: No stunts, only bull rushes and they get pushed to the outside all of the time.
    Janeck(sp): Thank god for Rennie he is great in spite of not because of his coach. The rest of our LB’s look like little lost sheep. Cover the damn TE.

    Willie: What can I say, if you are great and know how to play DB coming in you will be an NFL playa if you want to get coached up I’m not to sure about Willie.

    Put that altogether and that spells 30+ per game easy.

    • HamDawg11

      I agree, 69. I think we’re in need of a complete overhaul on that side of the ball. I wouldn’t mind seeing us go to a 3-4 defense to get more defenders standing up and disguise our rush schemes and blitzes. Yeah, we’ve got a lot of talent coming in at DT/DE, but they could make us super-strong on the 2 deep, keeping fresh legs out there all game long.

      I’ve been a Steelers fan since I was 7 years old and I absolutely love the way they play defense in the 3-4. Maybe Dick Labeau could come to Athens…he’s got a few years left in him!

  7. pup

    Bottom line our D sucks and our D coaches suck. What’s going to happen when we go against a no huddle? Our coaching does not get it. Top 10 or better in recuiting every year and then this mess.GATA

  8. Dog in Fla

    “we’re just lackadaisical”

    As Munson might say in response, “My God, can you imagine if he had said that to Van Gorder!”

  9. Turd Ferguson

    Our defense is probably going to look a ton better this weekend … because we’re playing Arizona State. And so everyone will be saying things like, “Looks like we finally made the right adjustments.”

    But then LSU comes to town. And I’ve got a feeling they’re going to cut through our defense like a hot knife through butter. A mobile QB, some solid receivers, and a running game that we simply couldn’t stop last year. And again, we’ll all be bitching about the defense.

    But then we play Tennessee. And although we may not be able to put up too many points on their defense, their offense will make our defense look like the ’85 Bears. And so we’ll be happy again.

    Until a week later, when we’ll probably give up more points to Tennessee Tech than we should … only to be followed a couple weeks later by Florida. And although Florida doesn’t look quite as dangerous on offense as they did a year ago, I still really doubt they’ll struggle to score on us.

    I swear, this season is setting up nicely to turn my hair gray.

    • dean

      I know what you’re saying but we play @Vanderbilt after UT then a bye week followed by Florida then Tennessee Tech. So we may get an inflated opinion of our defense after playing UT and Vandy headed into the open date before UF brings us crashing back down to reality. Then again who knows maybe the defense will improve. Maybe the younger guys mature and Willie will put Evens of water cooler duty. Then again maybe not.

      • Turd Ferguson

        Whoops. Yeah, I meant Vandy instead of Tennessee Tech. Vandy’s scored a combined 12 points so far this season against conference opponents … but it won’t surprise me a bit if they put up more than that on us.

        Everyone seems to be correctly acknowledging all of the problems in post-game interviews. But we’ll see if things actually change.

  10. When Van Gorder left, he left two holes. It’s surprising the lack of attention the Jancek seems to get from the critics of Martinez. Our LB play (excepting Curran) has been weak since Van Gorder left. If you tape the games and watch them a second time you constantly see the LB’s “sitting” trying to figure out where the ball is going (except Curran). They don’t get off blocks and they aren’t very physical; not SEC caliber LB play. It doesn’t seem like we are developing any talent at this position. Elerbee, B. Miller, Gamble, Dent, Hebron; Tony Taylor is the only one that I remember that seemed to make any plays. I hear from a former player that Jancek is not respected by the players, and when he said this he meant “feared”. If you listen the the OL talk about Searels, you never get the impression that they don’t respect and fear him. He gets it out of his guys. Garner and Fabris were coaching the same positions when BVG was here and I find it hard to believe they forgot how to coach. Can’t say that for Jancek or Martinez. I’m not saying all of Martinez problems are the result of poor LB play, it’s just hard to get good defensive play without it.

    • JT

      Great point. LB coaching has been lacking. I like Jancek and I am sure he knows about LBing, but I am not sure he has the temperment to coach LB’s.

  11. BeerMoney

    I agree that if we are going to be torched downfield, you might as well send the house. It’s like our high school coach used to tell us, you hit SOMEBODY on every play, even if it’s the wrong man, just like on O you block somebody on every play even if it’s the wrong man.

    If we were playing man coverage and getting torched, I could at least be a little more forgiving. But when our safeties are lining up as far off the LOS as they are, how do you routinely continue to get beat for big gains? Particularly when the whole philosphy of Willie’s D is to keep everything underneath?

    And the comment that we are lackadaisical is very disturbing. You don’t have to be the biggest, the fastest, or the most talented guy on the field to play good defense. You do, however, have to “want it.” Similar to rebounding in basketball, if you sit back and wait for a rebound, you will not grab many.

    The D might evolve a little bit this year. However, the qunadry we are in now annually is whether it will once again disappear next year and we are right back to square one. Even if the D improves some, should that be enough to save the jobs of our defensive staff? At what point is the big picture finally so bad that even Richt caves and dismisses a few coaches? This should not be an annual thing, but we are there right now.

    • Left to Right

      In a way, I wish the season had ended last week, because it is currently obvious that changes must be made in the defensive staff. I too am concerned that the defense is going to play marginally better the rest of the year and CMR will use that as an excuse not to make any changes (“See, all you critics out there, our defense got better throughout the season.”) I think we are about to hit a 4 game stretch where the defense is going to give up fewer points and the “no change” crowd will be emboldened. Of course, after that will come UF, AU and GT. Winning those 3 games will take significant, and not just marginal, improvement from the defense.

  12. I’m actually a bit perturbed with Richt for what’s happening on defense as well as special teams. I’m equally perturbed with myself for sticking up for Martinez last season. I truly believed he was catching an unfair share of the blame for last year’s shortcomings. Seeing how we have responded by getting substantially worse (as it appears) I’m just floored. As captain of this ship (or train) it’s Richt’s responsibility to right the wrongs. If I had saved my buddy from a lynch mob only for him to repeat the same offenses (no offense meant to the offense) I’d be whippin’ him with a garden hose full of ball-bearings. (No I don’t condone that sort of violence but it makes a point.) As for our kick-off strategy, well that one can be easily fixed and the fact that it is still broken makes me want to go kick the crap out of the kids that play in my cul-de-sac. (They’re young so their bones will heal quickly.)

  13. OldDawg55

    I have nothing important to do each day..being retired..so I read the comments of others who obviously have nothing to do, also. I enjoy reading the critical comments of you who have not coached..obvious by your comments..and who feed off each others analytical observations. When you are being paid six digit salaries to coach a position, review film, plan countermeasures, and develop game plans, I will give more credence to your observations. Hindsight has always seemed to be more fruitful than foresight in many fields..football especially…giving names like “monday morning quarterbacks” to the lexicon. I appreciate your frustrations but not your seemingly quick fixes to every miscue on the field. Get with a more supportive attitude or take up another sport…try soccer..or volleyball. You’re only attacking windmills in your present position.