“… we’re just going to keep rolling them cats in and keeping them fresh.”

Remember last year’s Kentucky game, when Abry Jones got hurt early on?

When Georgia gave up 206 rushing yards to Kentucky last October, reserves Thornton and Drew did not get any defensive snaps. Smith and Jenkins got 59 and 58 snaps, respectively, and nose guard Kwame Geathers got 38. Abry Jones was lost after only three snaps after tearing tendons in his left ankle and missed the rest of the season.

Richt blames that on a lack of confidence in the reserves.  But that’s all changed now.

“When Abry went down, it wasn’t like we just threw another guy into the rotation,” Richt said. “At the end, we probably didn’t have enough guys that we felt comfortable putting in there. We’ve got a feeling that we’re going to have a higher comfort level with more guys than we had a year ago basically.”

Grantham, who presumably could have dictated playing time be more balanced last year, sounds like he’s singing from the same hymnbook as Richt.

“In my mind, that’s kind of the rotational depth thing that I was looking at,” Grantham said. “I feel like they can help us so that when we come together as a unit, you can really roll those guys and keep them fresh and affect the quarterback and in the run game.”

And you get the sense some subtle head gestures are being tossed in the direction of the recently departed.

Rodney Garner, who left before the bowl game to return to his alma mater Auburn, coached the defensive line where Mike Thornton played 19 total snaps until the regular season finale against Georgia Tech and defensive end Ray Drew averaged less than five snaps a game in the first nine games of the season.

Cornelius Washington, who also played outside linebacker last season, saw more time at defensive end towards the end of the season after Jones’ injury.

“We subbed some, but we didn’t substitute a lot,” Richt said. “I’ve got a feeling this year we’re going to substitute an awful lot. The No. 1 and No. 2 units are very, very close in talent bases.”

Garner?  Oh, yeah, that guy.

Look, I did get the impression at G-Day that there’s more depth on the d-line than expected and I don’t question the present sincerity of the call for more linemen rotation.  But it’s not like that didn’t make sense before.  (“I think they should have done it a little more…” Geathers said.)  If it turns out as the season progresses that two or three of the linemen are clearly head and shoulders above the rest from a production standpoint, let’s see how that shakes out in the rotation.  Coaches may come and go, but old habits die hard, too.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to ““… we’re just going to keep rolling them cats in and keeping them fresh.”

  1. Bob

    When you have a 5 touchdown plus lead on Auburn late in the game and you refuse to substitute to preserve some bogus shutout, you get what you get. We had opportunity to build some depth and opted not to.

    • AlphaDawg

      Plus we had FL Atlantic and Buffalo early too.

    • Cojones

      Don’t think subbing in that game would have resulted in depth-building since we were that far after summer and fall trainings and into the schedule. More rotation could have been done in some games, but the resultant might be untenable to us (the fans). If we didn’t have the hosses with stamina in the game, throwing unseasoned players into the game who don’t have their coaches confidence would be folly, may have resulted in a loss or two elsewhere and brought this fan base down upon the D’s neck. The coaches couldn’t afford that at the time. Revenge was also heavy in our minds during the Auburn game from 2 yrs ago. Hope we don’t substitute again this year.

      Concerning Garner’s inexplicable nonrecruiting of certain linesmen and late offers, his lack of backup on the line and some disagreement between Garner and Grantham; all of that together combined with the proof of game play (using fatigue as an excuse for poor play that was not matched by stat review in several games ) leads me to believe that part of the problem has departed. We will see this year.

  2. 69Dawg

    Rodney always played favorites. If you got in his Dawg house you didn’t play. The bad part was you could get in his Dawg House for some real little stuff.

  3. Macallanlover

    My gut tells me this was more of Garner’s issue than depth. He seemed to keep 2-3 players in his Dawg house at all times so keeping other players in for extra time may have been his way making his point to those who were on his list.

    Am I the only one who doesn’t understand how, supposedly, well conditioned athletes cannot play 75 plays a game, with rest in between? I get it for receivers who run deep routes back-to-back-to-back needing a blow but come one, this is two platoon football we are talking about. And TV timeouts don’t just last a long time for fans in the stands. Cue the “not in the arena” replies. All that said, I like rotating players in frequently and think I am pleased there is little gap between the ones and twos.

    • Dog in Fla

      “Cue the ‘not in the arena’ replies”.

      If you insist:

      “He wants to know what it’s like being outside the arena.”
      Dawg93
      April 17, 2013 at 8:08 AM

    • Dawgfan Will

      I don’t think it’s necessarily having to play 75 plays; it’s having to play 75 plays against two guys who are only playing 30-35 plays each.

      • gastr1

        Right. They can play 75 plays, but if you’re not as fresh even a little bit against guys who have more rest, you perhaps don’t perform quite as well. The margin for error is clearly quite small.

  4. Dog in Fla

    “rolling them cats in and keeping them fresh.”

    Fresh cat meat?

    Between that and sous-chef Bielema coming into the league, you make kitty scared

  5. Bright Idea

    +300 pounders playing defense 60 snaps in the humidity is bad news I don’t care what kind of shape everyone thinks they are in. Subs should be played early in games if you don;’t trust them so the #1s are full bore in the 2nd half.

  6. Todd

    Is it me or the whole Garner thing is getting old. If Garner didn’t sub or was sub par with his coaching, why was he allowed to remain? It is scary similar to Willie Martinez being allowed to wear out his welcome. This is the CEO part of the job that Richt seems to struggle with at times. Nick Saban wouldn’t have time for Garner’s shit.

    I am glad coach Wilson is on board.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      +1. CMR is loyal to a fault.

      • gastr1

        No, by appearances it’s because the coaches are assigned those duties. In that scenario Grantham’s duty is not necessarily personnel or substitutions but packages, plays, defense design.

        If Richt was so loyal to Garner he would have made him DC a while back. And you have delegate and trust your experienced. expert coaches to do some things now and again. They passed over him for DC, let him walk and maybe even helped him out the door. Having a hard time seeing too much loyalty in this case.

    • Cojones

      Garner was kept on because his schtick was closing the deal in recruiting. His success in that role slipped last year and whether from attitude or ineptness, it doesn’t matter. He’s gone. Let’s cheer for Wilson.

  7. Lorenzo Dawgriguez

    Rodney was at UGA a long time and and needed a change and it showed. I have had the same issue at a couple of my jobs in the past. When the initiative declines, it is time to go and get a change in scenery. UGA has so much to sell, I hope recruiting picks up in the near future in-state and think it will.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Garner was at Georgia for what 14 years? When he coached the NFL quality D lineman for Donnan there were murmurs that we underperformed there per our talent. A successful recruiter from the beginning of his career; we all noticed that he started to falter there at the end. He was a successful family man with the ability to get into a star recruit’s single mom’s living rooms. He was always the bridesmaid … never the bride. He was courted by uT and the Barners frequently with planes waiting for him at the airport. UGA always ponied up and even made him assistant head coach. Straw boss? He really wanted to be that DC and probably grew to resent the out of town talent that was paraded in front of him.Yeah, the defensive line was Georgia’s strength. Ask Lacey and Yeldon about GA’s bottom 1/3 (NCAA) ranked defense against the run. They loved it.Good luck Coach Garner …. you were once one hell of a recruiter. I don’t blame you a bit for making bank at Auburn. Hell if SOD can do it why not you? You put a lot more time in.

      • He really wanted to be that DC and probably grew to resent the out of town talent that was paraded in front of him.

        Oy. You’re not a psychiatrist, but you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, right?

        Who are you guys gonna point the finger at if the run defense doesn’t improve this year? Maybe just blame it on shaking off the rust from a decade of Garner’s coaching…

  8. W Cobb Dawg

    The top recruiter, who also happened to be the DL coach, couldn’t haul in a sufficient number of serviceable DL’s – and that’s with a 3-4 D. He took an almost gleeful attitude about putting players in the doghouse – even Pollack hated playing for him and was ready to bolt after his freshman year. Thornton, who wasn’t deemed good enough to get many snaps for most of last year, is now projected as our starting NT. Don’t wish to trash CRG, but I don’t believe we’ll miss him at all.

  9. Mayor of Dawgtown

    What’s so flabbergasting when you really think about it is a team that thin got within 5 yards of playing for the national championship last year and undoubtedly would have done to ND exactly what Bama did if we had gotten there. That’s why I am so stoked about this upcoming season. We finally got some depth!