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…
UPDATE: Martinez speaks.