Grantham love and finger-crossing

David Hale spoke with Chris Low the other day on a wide-ranging set of SEC topic, and while I’m still not convinced by Low’s explanation of his power rankings, he did have something to say about Georgia that interested me:

DH: Lots of coaching changes around the league this year, including two head coaches (Tennessee and Kentucky) and a bunch of new coordinators (Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss) and staff shakeups everywhere except Auburn. From your travels this spring, who seems to be fitting in the best so far?

CL: Georgia, what they did bringing in Todd Grantham, he has extensive experience in college and the NFL, knows that 3-4 defense inside and out, coached with Nick Saban and coached it the whole time he was in the NFL. His approach is getting after the quarterback, hitting the quarterback, pressuring the quarterback, disguising coverages, disguising blitzes, getting into his head and doing anything they can to attack the quarterback. That will be their calling card this year, and they’re going to be more aggressive. Now, do they have the personnel right now to do everything he wants? I think he’s a little concerned about his depth at corner and whether they have enough outside linebackers.

But they’ll be more aggressive, take a few more chances and be more multi-faced in how they come after the quarterback and where they come from. If you go back and watch last year how many times Alabama blitzed Javier Arenas from the cornerback position — I think he ended up with around five sacks. I think they’re going to do more of that at Georgia this year and really put the offense in bad situations. So I like Grantham and that defense, but they are going to have to recruit to it, and they’ll probably need to have at least one more year to get the guys.

That echoes something Mark Schlabach said in his chat earlier this week.

Derrick (Athens,Ga)

How do you see the new 3-4 defense working for UGA, and can A.J. Green compete for a Heisman?

Mark Schlabach

(4:22 PM)

I think the 3-4 will be more aggressive, but Dogs still need more pass rushers and interior tackles. I think the scheme can potentially mask some of their deficiencies up front, but secondary is going to have to be good.

Any time you’re looking at a significant change in scheme, there are going to be personnel-related issues, simply because there are going to be a number of players who were recruited under the old regime who don’t fit the new style of play.  In Georgia’s case, that’s somewhat undercut by how well the program recruits.  That’s not to say that there aren’t areas of real concern, but it’s more of a numbers/depth game than it is a matter of being totally bereft of any talent to man a position.

All of which means we’re going to be holding our breaths about injury concerns all season.  It was apparent at G-Day that Houston and Washington have the potential to excel at the outside linebacker position; it was just as apparent that there’s a pretty steep drop off at the position after them.  It’s true that there’s some potential help coming in the fall, but it’s not realistic to expect a huge amount of production from true freshmen at a position like that early on.

It also means that we’re pinning our hopes on Grantham pulling off a Searels-esque mix-and-match job with the front seven and milking every drop of production he can out of them until he’s got the kind of depth he needs.  Is he capable of that?  His resumé suggests that he can, but a few key injuries (and/or, God forbid, some untimely suspensions) could quickly turn things in a precarious direction.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Grantham love and finger-crossing

  1. shane#1

    Would that Grantham had been in Athens last year. I thought that a 3-4 really suited UGA’s defensive line better than the 4-3 with three future NFL draft picks at DT and a shortage of good DEs. The thought of Weston, Owens, and Atkins being in the game at the same time with Houston at OLB made my hair stand on end. Houston is built more like a 3-4 OLB than a 4-3 DE. The guy that seems to be left out in the cold due to the change is Dobbs. Not quick enough to cover a pass route and not big enough for a down lineman. But we shall see. Two guys that seem to thrive in the 3-4 are Nick Williams and Geathers The DBs seem to be set, loaded at Safety and quality but a lack of quantity at CB. Lets hope the Dawgs avoid the injury bug for a change. If any team is due a little luck it is the Dawgs.

  2. Macallanlover

    It seems fair to say we will have a wide range of emotions this season with the new defense, tremendous highs and some low points. The aggressiveness will result in some huge plays/turnovers that we have lacked in the past 2-3 years, but I expect to see more long runs go against us simply because of missed assignments, or being out of position. Not a bad trade-off, imo, since the defense doesn’t have to be totally dominant this season for us to be successful. A few more turnovers giving our talented offense a short field, combined with a key stop here and there at the right time, could be what we need to make an early December stop in the Georgia Dome.

    I just like the buzz and energy around the defense this year. We should see a shootout, or two, but I think CTG will be praised this fall for moving us in the right direction. Not a Top 15 defense, but good enough to give this team a chance to succeed.

  3. Paul's Johnson

    Hope springs eternal, doesn’t it?

  4. Vious

    I am not as happy about our defensive recruiting as others.

    I am not convinced we have the players to have a lockdown 3-4 D. I do not see a true NT nor do I see LB’s that will be able to deal with blitz packages that bring the CB’s in

    I see us getting burnt Willie-style a few times this year

    • Sparrow

      This kind of commenting, or, more specifically, the last sentence drives me crazy. Pre-season C.Y.A. and an excuse to say I told you so.

      Please show me a defense that is in the process of learning a completely new scheme by a completely different set coaches that doesn’t give up a few big, horrible plays. We didn’t recruit for the 3-4 because we had not installed the 3-4 when we recruited the current roster. So it’s not a perfect fit. I don’t really think I’ve seen anyone say otherwise. There are a lot of folks on here who are excited about attitude, changes in focus (particularly in the backfield), etc… Nonetheless, I don’t hear much in the way of asserting that we are perfectly staffed for the 3-4 or that we are going to execute flawlessly.

  5. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Whatever CMR and the rest of the coaching staff do, please do not let any more players go to Remerton or Valdosta.

  6. Brandon

    I’d rather have somebody new than Willie with all of his “pieces” in tact, not that somebody new is necessarily going to be better but with Willie we knew things weren’t going to get any buttah.

  7. jermaine's dye

    From the Department of FWIW…

    I remember hearing an interview with Low during the summer of 2008 in which he said that the biggest buzz and good vibes in the SEC were coming out of Auburn and Tennessee.

    New coordinators Tony Franklin and Dave Clawson were poised to take the SEC by storm.