About that Georgia run defense…

No doubt it finished the regular season on more of a whimper than a bang, but I think it’s fair for Grantham to point out this perspective:

“We were pretty low in points allowed this year,” Grantham said. “As a matter of fact, lower than we were last year. That’s really more important than anything. We got to the SEC championship game two years in a row. To me those things are more important than stats.”

All true, but there’s still that sinking feeling in my heart that if the Dawgs had been just a little stronger stopping the run in the SECCG, we’d be chatting about all things Irish at GTP right now.  And the more I think about it, the more I think Chip Towers has correctly identified the biggest problem from that game.

The Alabama game exposed one of the Bulldogs’ weaknesses, which is depth along the defensive line. For all the accolades John Jenkins, Kwame Geathers and Garrison Smith have received this season, the drop off was pretty steep behind them. Ray Drew, Cornelius Washington and Mike Thornton are good athletes but are undersized when it comes to defending smash-mouth football. As a result, Jenkins, Geathers and Smith played nearly every snap of the Alabama game.

The game against Alabama was really the first one I was conscious of truly missing Abry Jones suiting up.  Jenkins and Geathers aren’t built to withstand playing throughout a game without wearing down and that showed up in the fourth quarter, as even Grantham acknowledges.

“I thought we got tired at the end of the game,” Grantham said. “I think we’ve got to continue to work and develop some depth. I think if we do that they’ll be fine.”

Grantham thinks he’s got some up-and-comers on the defensive line.  And it’s great that the underrated Smith will be back next fall.  But I sure would feel a whole lot better if Geathers decided to spend all of 2013 in red and black.

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35 Comments

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35 responses to “About that Georgia run defense…

  1. Dog in Fla

    “To me those things are more important than stats.”

    And Nate Silver is still a witch

    http://isnatesilverawitch.com/

  2. Carolinadawg

    And speaking of 2013, the schedule gets a major upgrade in difficulty. If the young defenders aren’t ready or able to step it up, it could be an ugly season.

  3. gastr1

    Two reasons for the lower points against:
    1–Vastly improved red zone performance from the defense.
    2–One giveaway all year on special teams, and fewer turnovers, pick sixes, etc. on offense.

    The defense is only partly responsible for the lower number, and if you look closely at the special teams/turnovers improvement it may be possible the defense did not improve the points against number at all. But in the end, yes, depth on the line was the issue.

  4. Dboy

    ” But I sure would feel a whole lot better if Geathers decided to spend all of 2013 in red and black.”

    Yes, please

  5. Nate Dawg

    I’m going from memory here and I can’t bring myself to watch the replay, so forgive me and help me out. And a friend of mine brought this up to me. Didn’t bammer drive a bit, we block fg for a TD, they get ball right back and drive a long way for a TD then run in the 2-pt? I mean that’s a lot of momentum shifts (and/or energy) plus a lot of consecutive defensive time on the field. I wonder if these were major contributors to the “warn-down or out” factor. Plus just the emotion of the game and the size of those friggin’ offensive linemen.

    • collegeparkdawg

      I think your memory is right. Defense was gassed due to time on field (think Alabama had significantly more time of possession) issues as well as lack of depth.

    • Macallanlover

      Yes, I recall the defense spending a huge amount of the 3rd quarter on the field and thinking we would pay for that in the 4th. Alabama switching to the power run coincided with that extended time on the field and I don’t think we ever got our strength back. And that is not taking anything away from the Tide’s OL domination and the brilliant cutbacks by the two RBs to get them to the 3rd level on those runs. They left our LBs grasping for air in more ways than one.

      • gastr1

        The time of possession stats were far in Bama’s favor the whole game. When we got the ball and scored it tended to be much more quickly than they when they scored. Final TOP was 37.5-22.5.

      • Joe Schmoe

        This is why I think that the failure of the offense to convert several of the 3rd-and-shorts in 3rd and 4th quarters was critical to the loss. Aside from the obvious need to keep the drives alive, we more importantly just needed to give our D a chance to catch its breath. A couple more first downs and we might not have looked so gassed and inept at stopping the run late in the game.

        • adam

          Totally agree.

        • Biggus Rickus

          I would be inclined to agree with this if they’d shown an ability to stop the run before that. Alabama ran the ball at will from midway through the second quarter on (and the defense was probably fortunate they didn’t start focusing more on the run sooner). The offense getting some first downs would have helped, but only because it would have reduced the number of opportunities Alabama had to bust some runs. I doubt the defense would have been any better when they came back on the field though.

          • Will (the other one)

            Arguably before then. Towards the end of the 2nd quarter I was cheering whenever Lacy was out of the game because we didn’t stop him all game. He had 10 ypc at half time, when we shouldn’t have been tired.

    • Once a Dawg, Always a Dawg

      That is correct…..of course Bama was aided on their drive by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty called on T.J. Stripling after UGA’s TD.

  6. HVL Dawg

    Remember last year when GTP readers were hyperventilating on these pages because we only had 70(?) players on scholarship? We haven’t heard from those folk in a while. But actually this game showed me the difference between Nick Saban’s roster management and Mark Richt’s. Not that I wish we were more like Alabama, but it sure would have been nice to have fresher DLs and LBs late in the 3rd quarter to make a stop.

    Congratulations Alabama. The better team won- but barely. Being a jerk has paid off for you.

    • cube

      I was one of the ones hyperventilating and I stand by my hyperventilating.

      Depth has been and continues to be an issue for us across the board. Hopefully we start correcting that this offseason – not by oversigning but by signing up to the 85 limit. We haven’t done that in at least a few years. When your competition consistently oversigns and you consistently undersign, you’re really, really handicapping your program.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        +1. That’s why as punishment for infractions the NCAA limits scholarships. The UGA coaching staff does it to themselves. I posted earlier this year that we ought to be able to commit several major infractions since we have in effect prepaid for them. Could UGA sell the scholarship shortfall to Penn State for cash and at least get something out of doing that?

  7. Once a Dawg, Always a Dawg

    So UGA needed more DL depth, but let 6’4″, 303-lb. junior DT/DE Derrick Lott transfer this spring to FCS UT-Chattanooga “in order to obtain more playing time” (per CMR). Seeing that Derrick started all 11 games for the Mocs this season and had 57 tackles, 2 sacks, and 4 tackles for loss….our staff should have worked much harder to keep him (as it were, UGA went into the season with only 67 eligible recruited scholarship players out of 85). Moreover, with our thin DL (expect another casualty soon), we let 6’4″, 335-lb. freshman DL Jonathan Taylor redshirt. Questionable roster management, imo.

  8. JaxDawg

    Question – did Jenkins live up to his billing as the next “Mt Cody”? Did he have a similar impact?

  9. Scott

    Off topic, but did anybody see “NFL Road-tested” on the Travel Channel this week? This is the reality show where they follow the Cleveland Browns for their road games. This past week, the show was about the Browns trip to Oakland on Dec. 2.

    There was a segment on the show where Ben Watson, Mohamed Massaquoi and Prince Miller seek out a sports bar in the Bay Area to watch UGA v. Alabama. What was amazing was the three find a bar totally packed with what appeared to be hundreds of UGA fans (the bar was designated meeting point for the UGA fan club) decked out in Bulldog colors. Poor Ben Watson, he was so mentally drained by the end of the game that he actually commented that he wasn’t even sure he could play the next day. Massaquoi was surprised by the large turnout of UGA fans so far away. Until that segment, I had no idea that Miller was in the NFL.

  10. cube

    If Tech doesn’t cheap shot Abry Jones and take him out, we might be playing for all the marbles in Miami.

  11. W Cobb Dawg

    I think using Gilliard instead of Herrera at ILB was much more of an issue than the D line – who played their hearts out against the best OL and RB tandem we’ve seen. We desperately needed a run-stuffer ILB to accent ‘tree. I absolutely do not get why CTG played Gilliard ahead of Herrera.

  12. Coastal Dawg

    Not just played him in front of Herrera, but rarely put Herrera in the game at all. I thought Amarlo was hurt until I saw him in on special teams. It does seem that CTG zeroes in on personnel packages and forgets to sub and rotate. I thought one of the things that help Van Gorder’s defenses do well was liberal subbing in the front seven. Starters stayed fresh for the fourth quarter and young guys got valuable playing time.

  13. Cojones

    Stats- that ought to fake them out as to how good we really are. Except for three close plays, we could be down 3 more losses. Grantham , with the redshirt and “Lose Lott” decisions came close to making it worse.

    But what the hell, Neb will never get a clue as to us being the secret #1 D in the country until they hit them. Somehow, everyone is missing a vital point of scientific comparison for the “tired” theory:

    QTR POSS RYs TOTALS/QTR
    1 1 4
    2 17 27
    3 6
    2 1 -1
    2 32
    3 67 140
    4 42
    3 1 29
    2 47 149
    3 73
    4 1 1
    2 38
    3 8 55
    4 8
    Bama’s running yards by possession show a “tired” D on the 3rd & 4th possessions of the second qtr and again on the 2nd and 3rd possessions of the third qtr ; however, except for one possession in the fourth qtr, the D doesn’t appear “tired” . I only used the ground yards since that’s the focus of this blog. What do all of you think?

    My opinion from the data is that Grantham screwed the pooch on his calls in the 2nd and 3rd qtrs and used the old “tired” meme to cover up. Sorry. If they are tired after Bama’s ist poss of 2 min of the 2nd qtr such that they let Bama stay in possession for 4.5 mins on the next possession plus allowing a score on the next poss of approx 3 mins, then our S&C program for the D is lacking.

    Immediately after halftime rest they let Bama burn up 5:38 on their 1st poss (pass td) and in the next two possessions of 2:12 and 3:07 and two rush tds, I don’t know what substitution would have done to prevent that. While that amounts to 11 mins poss for Bama in the 3rd qtr, they possessed it for 9 mins in the 4th whereas we only allowed one td (pass) and they rushed for only 55 of their appro 350 yds; I wouldn’t say that proved we were tired.

    Yeah Stats are a piece of shit alright.

    • Cojones

      That’s funny! The columns were typed, but I didn’t set them from the margin. Screw me. Bama’s ist poss/RYs were 4 yds, 2nd poss= 17 yds and 3rd= 6 yds-all in 1st qtr. Total = 27 yds.

      2nd qtr = 140 on 4 poss.
      3rd qtr = 149 yds on 3 poss
      4th qtr = 55 yds on 4 poss

      Now go back and analyse at “Bama’s running…….”

      Sorry. Ah well, it just loses it’s impetus.