Follow up on Grantham’s moves – shuffling the deck, or shuffling the deck chairs?

One thing that struck me about Todd Grantham very early on after his hire is that he has very definite ideas about what he wants his defense to be able to do.  And about what he wants his players to do in the framework of that defense.  So I wasn’t too surprised listening to his thoughts about some of the key personnel decisions announced yesterday.

… The most notable move revealed was Ogletree.

The 6-foot-3, 224-pound Newnan native started four games at safety last year as the Bulldogs’ highest-profile true freshman.

“He’s a tall guy, he’s got good size, he can run, he can hit, he’s physical,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Thursday when the move was announced. “I feel like moving him closer to the ball is going to allow him to make more plays and be productive for us.”

Ogletree tied for 10th in the team in tackles with 34 last season, including 10 against Auburn, but he was also beaten twice in coverage for touchdowns in that game.

“Just watching the way he runs, he closes on people,” Grantham said, “the way he can blitz, I think he can be a unique player at that position.

… Grantham says he’s also excited about the move because it allows Jarvis Jones to play outside linebacker. Jones worked at inside linebacker during bowl practices, but which linebacker spot he would man was uncertain.

The moves get Ogletree and Jones “around the action a little bit more,” Grantham said.

Jones sat out last season after transferring from Southern California.

“I think it will free up Jarvis to really be aggressive,” Grantham said. “It’s going to allow him to be really productive. It gives us flexibility because he can cover tight ends, he can cover backs. That will be something we can add to what we do.”

What should we take from all of what we heard yesterday?  Well, since you asked, it’s all about speed and aggressiveness, but what defensive coordinator doesn’t have those as goals?  More particularly, here are a few guesses on my part:

  • Grantham is all in on John Jenkins. Georgia is going to deploy one fast group of linebackers this season, but it’s going to be a smaller bunch than last year’s corps.  Grantham is banking on Jenkins’ ability to engage multiple blockers on opposing offenses to keep his linebackers free to close and make plays unimpeded.  If it works, there will be little question that the new nose tackle will be Georgia’s 2011 defensive MVP.  If it doesn’t, it’s going to be a long hot seat year in Athens.
  • Linebacking is where the action is. Jenkins will be the linchpin, but Grantham made these moves looking for more juice from the middle of the defense“You’ve still gotta be able to manufacture a pass rush and have guys that make plays at outside backers,” Grantham said. “And I think what we’ve done is we’ve moved two guys that can make plays closer to the ball. Kind of around the action a bit more. So I’m excited by that.” That’s all good, but I’ll feel better about that the first time I see one of them competently defend the wheel route.
  • The coaches really like the new recruits in the secondary. Mixed into the discussion yesterday was news that Jakar Hamilton’s move to cornerback was over.  Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but to me that reinforces Lakatos’ seriousness about playing cornerbacks with size who can mix it up in press coverage.  That bodes well for Boykin and Commings, but I think he intends to build depth with the new kids, who, remember, are a distinct departure physically from the smurfs that Martinez preferred.  And given that it’s not like Hamilton’s had an opportunity since the end of last season to show his game has improved at safety since he lost his starter’s spot to Ogletree, the message there would seem to be that after Rambo the safety slots are wide open.  All of that’s telling me that we’re going to see more freshmen play in the defensive backfield than originally anticipated.
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33 Comments

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33 responses to “Follow up on Grantham’s moves – shuffling the deck, or shuffling the deck chairs?

  1. TennesseeDawg

    I read where Joe T. has been very impressed with Kwame Geathers during workouts to the point he has put him in charge of leading a group. Looks like Geathers wants to give Big John a run for the NT job. Maybe our safeties were just Lakatos intolerant last year. Hopefully in year 2 they will catch on or God help us if they don’t.

  2. lrgk9

    Or, Ogletree is having trouble with pass coverage and supporting the run at the same time from Safety. The departure of J Houston has left a hole in the defense and J Jones is the best option. This moves the weakness from LB to Safety. Let’s hope Williams and Damian Swann can play.

    • No doubt Ogletree was raw and that was reflected in his coverage skills. But he didn’t look bad at all in run support to me.

      • crapsandwich

        Cornelius Washington is going to fill the Houston spot. Jones moves to Washington’s and Gamble’s old spot. Think we wanted more speed at strongside and coverage skills, Jones should provide that.

        I am real shaky on the Rambo/Hamilton experiment, once again. They looked like an old thread of the Keystone Kops out there last year. Let’s hope we figure this out before Boise.

      • The Watergirl

        Ogletree was raw, but what was Rambo’s excuse?

        • Whiskeydawg

          His problem is psychological. The fear of inadequacy and the stress resulting from being saddled with the name, Rambo. I have high hopes he’ll over come that this year.

        • JWalker84

          Rambo was second on the team in tackles in his first full year as a starter. He doesn’t need an excuse. He will get better in coverage. He’s never going to be a coverage guy though. Neither were greg blue or Thomas Davis.

          I’m just worried about who will play the other safety spot. I like moving Ogletree but now we are back where we started last year at safety. Kinda scary. Corey Moore?? Damian Swann??

  3. baltimore dawg

    ogletree just looked ungainly back there sometimes, even as fast as he is. i can’t remember how many times in the second half of last season at the end of a play i’d ask myself “what the hell is a linebacker doing 40 yards down field” only to realize it was ogletree. didn’t many folks assume he’d play lb in college coming out of high school?

    i don’t know if any of this is going to work, but i have a solid feeling grantham is going to be coaching his ass off to try to save this thing. i hope it rubs off on all of the coaches.

  4. Wondering where this leaves Richard Samuel?

    • hailtogeorgia

      I think Samuel’s in the same boat as before. Before this, he was going to have to compete against Jarvis Jones and Christian Robinson at one of those ILB spots and we had a void at OLB where Houston left…now we’ve just shuffled that a bit, Samuel will compete with Ogletree and C-Rob (or perhaps rotate with them) and we no longer have the void on the outside. Ultimately, it doesn’t change much for Richard.

  5. Spring Practice will tell us a lot more. I like the moves & believe Grantham really knows what he is doing. We still have 4 on campus competing for the 2 safety slots & 4 on campus competing for the 2 ILB slots. Maybe Anderson remaining an OL will ease my greatest concern which is the OL. Time will tell.

  6. sreeves324

    I’m not sure if this defense, especially the LB corp, will be that much smaller than last year’s at all:

    Jarvis will be 250, which is the same as Gamble
    Robinson is 230 and could be 235, which is about the same as Dowtin/Dent
    Tree will be 245 in the blink of an eye
    Samuel will be 235
    Washington/Drew will be 250-260

    All in all, those are some big and fast dudes

    • James Stephenson

      Don’t forget mean. You left out the mean thing. I saw Ogle hit some peeps last year with meanness in his heart.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      The weight of the front 7 was my concern too. I’m not worried about the D-line, now that we have Jenkins to go along with Tyson, Jones, Geathers, etc. We need LB’s big enough to stuff the lattimores of the world. I recall reading an article last year comparing various teams front 7′s to their defensive results. The lightweights tended to do poorly.

    • JWalker84

      I agree. Not that much smaller. Ogletree really is the only one really lacking size. Especially being on the inside. Not sure what Samuel is weighing these days.

  7. Irishdawg

    Improve the pass rush, defensive back play will look better. That front 7 looks damn quick, so if they can get in the backfield to pressure QBs into bad throws, that will help even out inexperience at safety.

  8. JWalker84

    I totally agree that they obviously are considering playing these younger guys in the secondary early and often. Hamilton did not impress me last year. Safety is as wide open as it can get.

    While Ogletree is at 224 lbs now. They expect him to get bigger. He was never going to the NFL as a safety any way. He was always going to move to linebacker at some point in his career. This was a good move.

    Grantham is clearly taking a page from Saban’s book. He builds his defenses big up the middle. That means a big tackle. And sometimes abnormally tall and large Middle line backers. Ex: Terrance Cody and Rolando Mcclain. Mcclain is 6’3″ 255. Or Dont’a Higtower 6’4″ 260

    We’re heading in the right direction. It will be exciting to see how much progress we’ve made against boise st. Cant freakin wait!

  9. What fresh hell is this?

    Regardless of who starts at safety, would someone please explain “angle of pursuit” to them in excruciating detail.
    Actually, do it twice with Rambo.

  10. sUGArdaddy

    Why do we keep forgetting Shawn Williams? He played admirably when we benched Jakar midway through the game in Boulder until we were ready to play ‘Tree. He just happened to play the same position as a freak we had to get on the field. I feel really good about Williams and Rambo back there.

    • Regular Guy

      Agreed.

      S. Williams didn’t do anything spectacularly good, but also didn’t do anything spectacularly bad, which was a big upgrade from our safety play in the first few games. He did a solid job, and with another year under his belt, I would think he could be a very good player for us in the fall.

  11. Ausdawg85

    I like the moves at LB for our overall SEC schedule, but our first game against BSU features a stong O-line and QB who can sling it. Hopefully, typical SEC speed advantage assists the secondary, and I hope our 30+ PPG is going to be enough…looks like we’ll need it.

    • Sanford222View

      I thought BSU was losing several key players from its OL to graduation? At least two I think.

  12. BobbyPeru

    Still…Richt shoulda gone for it on fourth and inches.

  13. Cojones

    Everyone should read the game play of Boise vs Utah. Substitute UGA players into positions played by Utah in the Vegas Bowl. Long pass plays by Moore were the order of the day. Hope we practice hard on those plays if we haven’t taken him out of the game by halftime(see Zymanski, 2006). Don’t let our steamboat visions overload our motorboat reality this early. Practise, practise, practise.

    Samuel will be at his natural position and may see the field more than the others.

  14. Cojones

    Practise is practice with a little “s” in it.

  15. shane#1

    Grantham wants a D that gives flexability to exploit weaknesses that he finds in opposing offenses. He may use different lineups with a spread O than he would playing Alabama. He has also said that he wanted to keep fresh players on the field, which is understandable with a blitzing D. Blitzing wears out LBs. I know the S&C program has been revamped, but keeping legs fresh untill the fourth quarter so that you are able to actually increase pressure on the QB will be a big boost. It is hard to be aggresive when you are gassed. I look for all the guys to get plenty of reps, including Samuel and Drew.

  16. “he can cover backs” this little tidbit stuck out as much as anything for me about last year. How many time did we get burned on the wheel route for a big gain for the other team. It was usually only once or twice a game but a play teams knew they could go to in big situations. If Jones can take away that route it would would sure up one of our biggest weaknesses from last year. I love the move of Ogletree so that Jones can move to OLB. I loved what Houston did last year but being his first year playing with his hand off the ground he did have a few weaknesses in pass coverage. Hopefully Jones can provide a similiar pass rush but be more sound in his coverages. Also think that Washington is more suited to be a pass rusher and I think that having Jones be a more versatile LB will allow Washington to have a better season than last year.