Todd Grantham, mad scientist

Going into Todd Grantham’s third season in Athens, I’m beginning to think the guy rolls out of bed in the morning mulling over how many combinations of players in the front seven he can come up with.

- Who he learned about this spring?

“I learned about everybody. Everybody who wasn’t a returning starter I kind of learned about. Because that’s what you’re doing, you’re evaluating. For example, I already know what Jarvis (Jones) and John (Jenkins) and Abry (Jones), I know what those guys can do. I know what Shawn Williams can do. But you’ve gotta find out what the guys that don’t play all the time can do. For next year, if there’s an injury, who’s the next guy in the game. And how you match people up. That was the biggest thing that to me I learned. I think it’ll help us make sure we get the next-best player on the field.

- Did Cornelius Washington play well enough at defensive end that that’s not just an experimental thing this spring?

“Oh yeah. He’s a versatile guy. He’s athletic enough to play outside backer. But he’s got enough size and strength and explosiveness and pad level that he can play as an inside guy. And what he does in there, is he’s got athletic ability. So I think we’ll continue to play him at both (spots) as we move forward, which gives us more depth, and gives us a chance to play some other guys. Like Ramik Wilson, who made an interception there in the first half, he’s a guy we’re looking at, at outside backer too. So I just think it allows us to get another guy on the field.”

If I had to point to the biggest difference between his defensive philosophy and that of his two predecessors, it wouldn’t be the scheme change (Georgia doesn’t play in a true 3-4 half the time, anyway), it would be his relentless pursuit of mixing and matching personnel to get the best players on the field at any given time.

Spring practice is experiment time.

… Exactly how much did the addition of talented prospects like Jordan Jenkins and Josh Harvey-Clemons affect Grantham’s decision to test outside linebackers Cornelius Washington and Ray Drew at defensive end during spring practice?

“A lot,” Grantham said, “because I kind of have an idea of what those guys can do and their skill set, and also what Ray and Cornelius can do. By making that transition, it allowed us to give us more flexibility. The big thing you’ve got to have is flexibility while you’re on defense, because like I’ve said, it’s always about getting your next best guy in the game.

“I think that those guys being as dynamic as they are and I think the versatility of a Ray and a Cornelius allow us to do some good things.”

For the moment at least, VanGorder is still the gold standard for defensive coordinating in the Richt era, but I don’t remember him being this consumed with flexibility.  (Mercifully, I’ll leave Martinez out of the discussion here.)  It’s a big issue now, even – maybe particularly – on the recruiting trail.

“Defense is a game about athletes. The bigger, faster and stronger you are, the more you can win a one-on-one matchup,” he said. “Generally what happens is [big, fast, strong] guys in high school tend to play those positions. They can grow into things. To me it’s all about recruiting big, strong, physical, fast guys that can run and then, as their bodies take off and go, you kind of filter them in where you need them.”

That may be as good a distillation of the “Jimmies and Joes, Xs and Os” wisdom as you’re ever gonna get.

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35 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting, Strategery And Mechanics

35 responses to “Todd Grantham, mad scientist

  1. paul

    Love me some CTG. The only thing he gets blamed for is a whole bunch of butt whupping. Erk would be proud. Honestly, I don’t think there can be any higher compliment than that. And I believe he deserves it.

  2. Rebar

    Coach Grantham may be the best thing to hit UGA since Erk left.

  3. JasonC

    CTG has been a breath of fresh air and such a change from before. It is exciting to see him work to get the best match ups possible. Another bonus, is that it creates depth for the future.

  4. charlottedawg

    Sometimes i get the feeling Grantham could cobble together a decent defense with Aaron Murray, our O line, and some walk on place kickers. Then I remember in addition to being a schemer of a million ways to frustrate and physically brutalize offenses as well as a great teacher and motivator, he’s also a top notch evaluator of talent and recruiter. Gone are the days of “we had a good plan, we just didn’t execute” to “not only do I have a great plan but I also got 11 freaks on defense, 22 more on the bench, all are fundamentally sound, and could execute this game plan in their sleep. Your offense is in for 2 things: pain and frustration. muhahahaha”.

    • Cojones

      I really liked that post, Charlotte. Look out, you might be accused of becoming a Disney Dawg. It is downright exciting, isn’t it?

      • mostly what I like about Charlotte’s post is that I learned how to spell “muhahahaha”. Actually I thought I would have gotten that information from illuminatidawg.

  5. How many recruits came for Van Gorder? Grantham not only excels at the X’s and the O’s, but he’s working well at brining in the Jimmie’s and Joe’s too.

  6. DawgPhan

    Yeah it seems like the defense could be in a different front every other play and bring pressure from any position facing the football.

    Certainly multiple for the sake of multiple isnt the ideal, but this seems to be more of a feature than a bug. Does the old saying about 2 QBs apply to OLB’s?

  7. Irishdawg

    Obviously Grantham is the best decision Richt has made in the last few years, but what’s #2? My vote is promoting Tereshinski and overhauling the strength program.

  8. Bulldog Joe

    Now the question is:

    “How can we sustain it through the second half of big games?”

  9. StirBaby's ManPiece

    “If I had to point to the biggest difference between his defensive philosophy and that of his two predecessors… it would be his relentless pursuit of mixing and matching personnel to get the best players on the field at any given time.”

    Meanwhile on offense, we’re still feeding Richard Samuel the rock…

  10. Cojones

    Maestro!

    Let the Dawg Symphony begin.

  11. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Just as long as we’re not surrendering anymore leads to teams like Michigan State and sitting on the ball in any more overtimes.

  12. Rebar

    Grantham doesn’t only get the player to come to UGA, he gets them to stay also!

  13. Lrgk9

    Make Grantham HC. Ooops – some other team will beat us to it.

  14. charlottedawg

    @Lrgk9. A successful DC doesn’t automatically equal successful head coach, see VanGorder, Brian. I do believe Grantham will eventually be poached away to either a college HC or NFL DC job which he’ll deserve. However, that doesn’t mean Georgia should automatically make him head coach. But we should enjoy Grantham while we got him.

  15. Cojones

    When Grantham was DC with the Cowboys, didn’t he already have a home on Lake Oconee? Sounds to me that he found the job that found him. Why wouldn’t he want to remain where he is most successful while getting paid top dollar? Erk didn’t lose any worshipers through the years and no one wanted to make him HC. You get all your due glory and you don’t take the overall blame as DC. He’s happy, his kids are in school and he seems to have liked the territory before he got here.

    I hope he doesn’t own a Hawg.

    • James Stephenson

      He was not the DC for the Cowboys, he was the D-Line coach. He did coach the D in Cleveland for a while, but probably never got to shop for the groceries, just cook with what was given to him, Iron chef style.

  16. Cojones
    I thought you were old enough to remember ,lots of people wanted to make Erk UGA’s head coach but legend has it that President Fred Davidson was afraid that he would become the second most powerful man on campus and put the nix on hiring Erk. Sounds like UGA has a history of power hungry presidents.

    • Cojones

      Shucks, Joe, “old enough to remember” sounds like an oxy(oxi?) moron. Took me over 30 minutes to remember a guy’s last name after I talked to him 45 minutes yesterday. He was a Bama player and was on the team from approx. 79-82, the last years of Bear. While his name was familiar, I was trying to look him up and confirm before asking BD about him. Took me over 30 minutes to think of his last name. He said he was on the team, but we didn’t discuss how much starting. Since the name seemed familiar I took it as having been mentioned publically. He had a choice statement about Auburn from Saban. He knew SEC Football and we had good conversation over a few draft Newcastles.

      It was a good afternoon since my Doc had just told me my testicles’s sac would return to a normal brown since I stopped going into the attic to smoke and getting them dusty-grey when they drug on the floor. Another medical mystery solved. Now I luffa the bottom each shower. Now looks like there’s a brown wrinkled rash.

      • paul

        I don’t know about the Fred Davidson legend but I do remember that when Vince briefly flirted with the idea of politics no one was particularly worried. We all figured Erk would become the Head coach and the Dawgs would keep on keeping on. When he announced he was leaving for Southern it seemed like a forgone conclusion that they would be competing for championships soon.

  17. 69Dawg

    Pro DC’s only have a limited number of bodies to play with. CTG must feel like he died and went to heaven, he has a lot more guys. He still cross trains them like in the pros and that creates massive depth unlike the pros. The players seeing that D guys that can play multiple positions make a lot of money early on have bought into this to the point that CTG can convince them to stay and learn more at the feet of UGA’s Yoda.

  18. W Cobb Dawg

    CTG fully deserves credit for breathing life into the program, and it appears both players and recruits love the guy. But I think it’s a little premature to annoint CTG until he delivers results like BVG did in his 3rd and 4th years – although he’s certainly put his D in position to be a top 5 leader nationally for years to come. I wouldn’t put him ahead of BVG until CTG actually does it.

    • That’s why I described BVG as the “gold standard”…

      • W Cobb Dawg

        Yep, agree with everything you said. This years D should be awesome! I expect the D to finish in the top 3 nationally, and I think we have as good a shot as anyone to be #1. 2013 should be tougher for CTG, as we’ll have a lot of new starters on D. But he certainly is recruiting well enough to reload, rather than rebuild.

    • Cojones

      And a good cautionary statement by WCD.