“In this day and age, playing 70 snaps as a D-lineman is counter-productive.”

I think if you ask most Georgia fans to name the team’s biggest mystery of last season, they would point to the defense against the run.  Part of what contributes to the mystery is why the performance so badly failed to live up to the talent level.  Early season suspensions, opponents’  reluctance to test the passing defense, a sense of complacency – you name it.

But the one thing that seems to get the most blame is this:

In diagnosing the problem, many around the program have pointed to stamina: The above five players were the only ones who really saw action during key times, and Jones missed the final half of the season with an injury. So it was no accident that, for instance, the run defense broke down in the second half against Alabama.

Smith thinks stamina was a big problem.

“Last year there were times I basically played every snap, didn’t get a break at all,” said Smith, a senior who will be the lone returning starter on the defensive line. “The thing is, even though I was still playing as hard as I could, if you cut that in half, and you get that much fresher with the reps, somebody else playing with you, you could be that much better just getting the rest time.”

That sounds convincing, until you look at the game log for last season.  Georgia’s most dominant stretch on run defense came in the three games after Jones was lost for the season.  It was with the Georgia Southern game that the wheels started coming off the wagon.  Now maybe there was some cumulative effect over the course of the season that took its toll.  Or maybe the key was the number of carries defended in a game:  with the exception of the Florida game, the yards per carry average was noticeably worse when the opponent rushed the ball forty times or more.

Anyway, the buzzword now seems to be depth.  The coaches want to spread the number of snaps around to keep linemen fresh, which would be a different approach from last year.  But that was said then, too.  In the heat of the battle, it all comes back to the same thing.

Head coach Mark Richt said there was rotating last year, but when Jones got hurt last year the staff didn’t really replace him.

“At the end we probably didn’t have enough guys that we felt comfortable putting in there,” Richt said. “That was the main reason. We got a feeling that we’re gonna have a higher comfort level with more guys than a year ago, basically.”

G-Day left me hopeful in that department.  Hope ain’t the same thing as trust, though.  We’ll soon see if the change from Garner to Wilson makes as much difference in the fall as they’re saying it does now.

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20 Comments

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20 responses to ““In this day and age, playing 70 snaps as a D-lineman is counter-productive.”

  1. Bob

    Well I think there is a great deal of truth to this. That being said, how many times did we keep the starters on defense in the game well after the game was decided. The Auburn game comes to mind.

    We were in complete control with a significant lead late in the game, yet still kept in the starters to preserve a meaningless shutout. It made no sense then and it makes no sense now. Granted, we did not have enough depth. But we sure as hell could have played a lot more folks in those blowout games.

    Then again, it must be Bobo’s fault. ;-)

    • uglydawg

      This might be Bobo’s fault…Georgia had some games where they scored so quickly the defense barely had a chance to rest. It’s a good problem to have.

      • mp

        Agreed. The blocked FG being returned for a TD in the SECCG was anoter example of the double-edged sword that is scoring quickly. Points off the board for Bama & points on the board for UGA – great, but that next series the D got manhandled. It’s not solely because they hadn’t had any chance to catch their breath, but it surely didn’t help.

    • GaskillDawg

      The 2012 Auburn game may have appeared to be a meaningless shutout on its face, but I believe that the meaning to Richt, and the reason we kept starters in late against Auburn in both 2011 and 2012 was payback for Auburn’s antics in the 2010 game. It was not meaningless to the coaches.

      • Macallanlover

        I agree, and hope it is so. Roll it up on Auburn every time you get the chance. Not only they the biggest cheaters in the SEC, they played very dirty in 2010 and fans, players, staff, and administrators all showed zero class in not taking a stand. One thing to cheat, another to tolerate someone endangering another player’s health and future. Also, there is the easy access Auburn gives to recruits by having such low standards combined with close proximity to Georgia.

    • Matdawg

      Excellent column today(as usual), thanks Senator and exjoy the weekend.

  2. AthensHomerDawg

    “Hope Is a Good Thing, Maybe the Best of Things, and No Good Thing Ever Dies.”

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      “Hope is a dangerous thing….it can drive a man crazy.”

      • AthensHomerDawg

        “Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous.”

        • Cojones

          “Sex is stronger than fear”.

          • AthensHomerDawg

            The researchers discovered that men’s and women’s brains reacted differently to the Images . Most notably, men showed far more activity than women did in the amygdala, the almond-contoured brain sector long associated with powerful emotions like fear and anger rather than with anything erotic or sexual.

      • Keese

        “Hope in one hand,…..”

  3. I wanna Red Cup

    How come only the D line gets tired when there are no subs? Most teams do not sub much on the O line in a game unless forced to for injury reasons. I don’t recall Bama playing anyone other than their starting 5, which were damn good of course. But why don’t o linemen get tired?
    Still, I am in favor of liberal substitution on the d line and would prefer some quick guys who can play low to the ground.

  4. AlphaDawg

    I’m sure there is some merit to this argument. We lost Jones and Washington last year, both of which would have seen plenty of those snaps.

  5. W Cobb Dawg

    Under Donnan, I recall DL substitutions being so frequent it was almost comical. Seemed like 2 DLs came running on & off the field after every play. Although I don’t want to return to that extreme, I would like to see us 2 deep at each DL position – and I’d like to see all 6 get action in each game. Common sense dictates the best 3 be on the field in the toughest situations. Have to agree with Bob, what’s the sense in leaving starters in at mop up time?

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Maybe a sense of pride? Grantham left his starters in against Franklin cause Frankie left his in trying to score some meaningless points so he wouldn’t appear to have gotten spanked as bad as he did.
      Auburn’s assault and battery on Murray won’t easily be forgotten. Nor should it. The whole Auburn coaching staff behaved rather poorly. imho. We were bullied pretty much the whole game and no one did much to slow it down. Refs included. We’ve all had an encounter with a bully a some point in our lives. My lesson was that they have to remember what being a bully brings with it.
      “You make sure they remember, FOREVER, the night they played the Bulldogs!”

      • AlphaDawg

        ” We were bullied pretty much the whole game and no one did much to slow it down.”….said while Ben Jones clears his throat

        • AthensHomerDawg

          “We were bullied pretty much the whole game and no one did much to slow it down.” ….said while Ben Jones clears his throat
          Ben is a DGD and I love the shot of him with payback against the Gnats for tearing up our hedges. Didn’t slow down the assault and battery from the Barners though.

  6. Bright Idea

    Red Cup, It is a routine football axiom that 300 pounders chasing the football will get tired quicker than those blocking, who are in today’s football mostly standing up and pushing. Plus the offense can control the pace of the game.

  7. Cojones

    Only way to resolve this conjecture is to match players in the game during the opponent’s best ground game, that is, if you believe the stamina factor was all of the reason. Insert scheme and substitution problems by Grantham as well contributed to the problem.

    Looking at the SECCG for clues leaves one wondering why the greatest # of yds given up on the ground occurred just before and just after half-time break, not in the 4th qtr.. If we were having stamina probs at those times, then the players weren’t in any kind of shape. I believe that they were in sufficient shape as not to take the full hit on this one. You cannot look at stamina alone because there is plenty of refutation to knock it down as a singular reason for ground yds gained vs our D.

    Let’s look at the game film again as to whether the correct combination of players were on the field at the right time in the cat-and-mouse game played by our D coordinator vs opponent’s O coordinator. It all doesn’t translate into “tired” players at those times of the game that we expect them to tire.