The sound of light bulbs going off

I don’t want to read too much into it, but I do find it encouraging to hear this sort of talk about now:

*** What else has changed in the past two weeks?

Well, safety Shawn Williams and cornerback Sanders Commings continue to lock down starting roles in the secondary, a move that took place before the Tennessee game.

Cornerback Brandon Boykin gave what I thought was a revealing quote when asked about the two newcomers to the lineup: “They’re playing really good because they’re preparing and they know what to do.”

And there it is.

Richt has said all along that everyone is a freshman in this defense because all players have to learn it new. Therefore, there’s no reason Georgia shouldn’t have gone to hungry young defensive backs when things weren’t working early. Next up is safety Alec Ogletree, who I’d expect to make some noise the remainder of the season.

And this, as well, from a kid who hasn’t played much so far.

“The first thing I did was look up at the scoreboard and see how much time I had to play. I remember it was about six or seven minutes,” Lott said. “They called the first play, I was like Oh I know this. Let’s do it. Came out there and made the first play, I was excited about it. I was amped up, I was ready to make more plays.”

If they really are starting to climb the learning curve on defense, it may be time to get a little excited.

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “The sound of light bulbs going off

  1. The Original Cynical in Athens

    Was listening to Trent Dilfer the other day on the radio talking about NFL defensive concepts.

    He was explaining how the best defenses are full of guys who realize that they are not supposed to make every play themselves, but are to do exactly what their responsibility is on each play, and the guy beside them or behind them will make the play. However, if they do not do their responsibility, nobody will make the play.

    Obviously, that is a pretty simple thing, but his point was that when every guy on the field trusts that the coach is putting him in the right spot all the time then those defenses become very difficult to play against.

    All of UGA’s players are “freshmen” in the defense, but the trust issues left over from the prior staff are tough habits to break.

    Kentucky will be the first offense with a pulse that the Dawgs have seen since Arkansas, so it will be interesting to see how far they have come.

    • Brandon

      You are dead on. Our players lost trust under the previous defensive regime because they weren’t being put in the right spots, its going to take time to build that back, hopefully we’re getting there.

      • Puffdawg

        Excellent points by Cynic and Brandon. The philosophy under CWM was keep them in front of you and gang tackle. For CTG the philosophy is to make plays in space one on one. You are trading more tacklers at the point of attack for aggression. I think assignment football is more important in the 3-4 than the 4-3 for sure.

    • 69Dawg

      This has been the main difference between the 3-4 and the 4-3. Playing a 3-4 is like playing Tech on every down. This is your responsibility do your job and do it well. Once you can determine that the O has stopped faking and the play is going then and only then go to the ball. D backs that are suppose to cover cover do not pull a Rambo and get sucked in by the QB. On the interception by Commings he was covering a deeper WR but when he saw the ball go up he flew to it and made the play.

      I feel that the players on D have been lazy at watching tape. They have to do this on their own and I think that Willie with his anointed players caused them to think they didn’t need to, they were the starters anyway. Now the worm has turned if you know how to play and you do the film study necessary to play at a high level you play. Guess what the guys that want to play now must compete with the guys that are studying so now all but the worst players are studying. The truly lazy players will get to run down on kicks but will never see the field on D.

      The other pro concept that CTG had to modify somewhat because of our lack of S&C was playing the best 11 all the way except for situational substitution. Willie used to drive me crazy because we would be in our rotation and it would be 3rd and Willie but our best guys would be sitting on the bench. We may still have problems with 3rd and Willie but it’s not because our best players are on the bench.
      It’s only going to get better.

  2. Go Dawgs!

    I find the Ogletree comments encouraging, obviously, but I find the idea that you could potentially chalk up our early season defensive struggles to lack of preparation by our front line guys to be very disappointing. Disappointing not just because they allowed younger guys to be more prepared than them, but also because our coaches failed to recognize that fact and replace them sooner.

    Either way, looking forward I’ll choose to be encouraged that the people on the field Saturday will likely be the motivated, prepared, and selfless players who are ready to put the team first and get after Kentucky.

    The Cynic and Brandon are dead on, too. I think the more that our players get in there and focus on what they’re told to do and trust that the guy behind them will also take care of his responsibility, the more I think this thing can work. All you have to do is look at the way Justin Houston played the option Saturday against Vandy. He didn’t try to play both men, he just honed in on the quarterback and forced the pitch. Sometimes the guy who had the pitch didn’t make the play. But when he did, it was great defense.

    • No One Knows You're a Dawg

      I agree that it’s disappointing that we seem to have had players not preparing (I wonder if that has something to do with the dropoff in performance by Rambo) and that the coaching staff nevertheless kept playing them. As you say, it’s not simply a matter of a lightbulb going off and the players now knowing the system, but of the coaches having the sense to play the players who are learning the system. Playing guys even though they weren’t getting it done on the field was a weakness of the last defensive staff.

      Maybe this will be a teachable moment for the new staff and going forward they will pay closer attention to who is playing best and preparing well, rather than playing guys because they have been starters. Lott will be a good indicator. His play has merited him more time on the field. If he gets it, it will be a very good sign going forward.

      • I don’t think you guys are being totally fair here.

        It’s not just that the front seven switched schemes, it’s also that Lakatos has a very different coaching philosophy than Martinez. All the coaches had to go on before the season started was what they could see players doing in the old scheme.

        I didn’t expect them to rush into wholesale personnel changes.

        • Go Dawgs!

          And that’s fair enough, and it’s also possible that we’re reading way too much into that Boykin quote. It’s possible that I’ve got a Martinez hangover and I’m paranoid about players not working hard in the preparation phase and the coaches not identifying the best players to put on the field.

          I also don’t know if Coach Grantham’s dumbed things down or what in the past two weeks, but it just seems like the defensive secondary has done a better job in every aspect of what they do since they juggled things. I have commented on it before, but it seemed like the first five ballgames, the secondary didn’t even know how to line up until just before the ball was snapped. While it’s possible that they were trying to disguise coverages, they just looked confused, and had guys uncovered until the ball was snapped. That hasn’t happened in the last two weeks, and I think you can make an argument that we’ve got more guys out there who seem to know what we’re trying to accomplish. I have no idea if that’s because we’ve simplified things or because some players have picked it up better than others. I guess you can’t change the past. Going forward, I can’t help but think it’s a good thing.

  3. Scorpio Jones, III

    Clear eyes, full heads?

  4. Russell

    There is a common theme on both sides of the ball…a Reason for Hope. I know that sounds a little Obamaish, but coming off a 1-4 start, most of us Old Dawgs are looking for anything hopeful to hang our hats on.
    Thank you Georgia Bulldogs, for getting better.

  5. 69Dawg

    When everyone started on an equal footing the prior starters were given the benefit of the doubt since they had game experience. Now as the season has progressed the coaches can see the in game performance and adjust. La-La was not much to hang your hat on. SCU and Arky were experienced O’s beating an inexperienced D. Colorado just sucked. Miss St. just Gayturded us. UK will be a bench mark on the D.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Colorado did not suck. Colorado was a decent team with 2 weeks to prepare, playing as hard as they could against a team with an inexperienced D and an O-line still trying to jell. Even then, if not for the worst-timed fumble in school history UGA wins the game by a FG. I agree with the rest of the analysis, though.

  6. scdawg

    Face it. Rambo and Hamilton are the weak links on D. We all wanted Rambo to be so good because we saw Evans be so bad last year. Really suprised to see that it took this long before Ogletree got more snaps.

    Say what you will, but Hartline will smoke this secondary, and Cobb in the wildcat will kill the LBs. Cobb will be able to get 6-10 yards anytime he wants it.

    I believe it comes down to turnovers and out scoring them in a shootout. High scoring game.

  7. W Cobb Dawg

    If the D players are considered freshman, why aren’t the O players considered veterans? We had 10 starters returning! 10! Is it too much to ask for a veteran O to carry a little extra load until the D gets acclimated? Why can’t they post 30 points against mid-level teams?

    • LCDAWG

      Searel’s coaching has to be reviewed by CMR at the end of the season and he must decide how to move forward. I alos feel they must fire Van Halanger so we have fit, strong lineman ready to play.

  8. X-Dawg

    Seems like it takes 4 or 5 games into every season for the damned light bulb to come on – with the exception of 2008 when it took that deep into the season to turn off the light bulb. It would be nice to start the season out of the dark for a change.

    • Brian

      amen….our guys can’t be dumber than AL, AK and MSU can they? Once again I blame the coaches. If the player’s don’t understand this stuff..dumb it down more!

  9. Brian

    Can anyone explain to me why our offensive line sucks so bad? Is it just me or do our lineman look like guys that played in the early 90’s physique wise? Take a look at AL, AK etc..those guys look huge and I don’t mean fat without any muscularity. We must replace Van Halanger and get in a real hard ass motivator.

    • Biggus Rickus

      Unless they’re lying about height and weight they’re the same size as everyone else’s. And Alabama’s line has been no great shakes this year.