Grading Grantham

Seth Emerson gets asked his opinion about Georgia’s defensive coordinator and summarizes as follows:

Grantham has had one so-so year (2010), one very good one (2011) and one down year (2012). To hear Grantham tell it, the problems last year had more to do with the early-season suspensions, which caused the defense to take time to gel. But I don’t quite buy that, considering it was a veteran defense that played well together the previous season. If the issue was that too many players were looking towards their pro careers, then part of that falls on Grantham’s motivational ability. Finally, there was a tendency last year to struggle in the first half of games, which goes to gameplanning.

It’s not an unfair assessment, as far as it goes.  But I wonder if more nuance is called for.  For one thing, to call a year in which Georgia went from 23rd nationally in scoring defense (20.6 ppg) to 18th and a point a game average lower down doesn’t seem accurate, except there were games like Kentucky and Tennessee where it’s hard to dispute that the label’s deserved.

I’m conflicted because the suspensions clearly had an impact on the unit’s cohesiveness in the first part of the season.  The injuries to Jones – both Joneses actually – also had an effect.  But it’s hard to blame those for what happened after five-game stretch leading up to the SECCG when the defense had its mojo working and only gave up a total of 43 points.  Alabama ran the ball down that defense’s throat.  (That two-point conversion still stuns me.)  And Nebraska made Georgia’s defense looked disorganized during a stretch where it erased a 16-point deficit and took an early second half lead before the Dawg offense took control of the bowl game for good.

I do think that Jenkins and Geathers wore down over the course of the season, some of that no doubt being the result of having to play more after Abry Jones was lost for the year.  But the question about that remaining for me was why Grantham (and Garner) weren’t able to develop more interior line depth they felt they could rely on after Jones was gone.  And that, I would argue, continues to be a big question for this season, given what they’ve got to replace on the defensive line.

So where do things go from here?  Emerson describes the positives:

… Grantham has shown a good ability to be organized (not as easy as it may sound) and his players listen to and trust him. He’s smart and in control, there’s no question about that. There’s kind of a mad scientist quality to his lineups and moving players around, and I mean that in a good way. You don’t go from genius one season to forgetting everything the next. The true measure of Grantham probably lies somewhere in between.

I guess we’ll find out.
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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Grading Grantham

  1. Debby Balcer

    Injuries, suspensions and motivation played a big part in the defense underachieving. I hope that this year’s team saw what complacency dies. I think losing Abry had a much bigger effect than mist people realize.

  2. Debby Balcer

    Does not dis. I wish their was an edit feature to the comment section.

  3. Debby Balcer

    There not their typing on my kindle this morning is not going well.

  4. mctyre

    The jury is still out on Grantham the DC, not the recruiter or developer of pass-rushing OLB at which he clearly excels. Regarding his being good at organization, I’m no sure when it comes to having the D lined up when the ball is snapped. In 2012, the unit had a penchant for – at times as late as milliseconds before the snap – looking to the sideline for the DC’s call. CTG’s bug-eyed frantic gesticulations right up to the snap seemed at times to take the instinct right out our very talented players. Having the effect of reversion to the read-and-react Ds of yore. Sometimes, in certain game situations, time does not allow for a brilliant chess match countermove to the opponent’s formation and you need to simply depend on your talent and player development to perform.

  5. 69Dawg

    The only thing that scares me about our D and CTG is that I think it is too complex to be taught at the college level. The NCAA’s 20 hour rule means that you should just keep it simple. A complex D can look great at times but you also risk the big breakdown and big play. I think CTG over thinks some stuff and as a result the plays are late. His habit of trying to substitute players based on what he thinks the O will do led to a bunch of D time outs because the wrong players were in the game. I almost like when the O goes hurry up because CTG can’t sub mas much and out smart himself. All that being said I still think he is light years ahead of Wave Your Arms Willie.

    • You diagnosed him with “OVER THINKING”. May be Murray and Bobo were fortunately cured of that bug, but the infestation got transferred to CTG.

  6. gastr1

    The improvement in scoring defense is a misnomer. When you correct for points allowed via turnovers (pick 6s) and special teams, there was no improvement by the defense per se in that particular stat. Forgive me for not providing the numerical evidence, but I looked this up last year and found what I’m saying to be accurate.

    The one place the defense did markedly improve–which did help keep scoring down despite higher total yards–was in the red zone.

  7. We have given up 30 or more points 13 times in the 3 seasons he has been DC. Jury is still out on Grantham. You can’t do that 4 times a year and expect to win a title.

  8. Macallanlover

    I like CTG’s passion and ability to have players get pumped up at crucial times but agree with the tardiness of being set on many, many occasions. I don’t think last year’s defense was a win at all, despite the improved numbers cited. We were inconsistent and were beaten down in too many games.

    My initial concern about the 3-4 being the right alignment against power running teams has yet to be answered. We had monster talent last year but were pushed around. I think the emphasis has been on the big NG but it seems the only solution is to have a stud MLB that take on everything coming his way. Those are not often available so I hope we see a more aggressive push from the NG and just acting like a space-taker by piling things up. That hasn’t worked for us, hope to see more penetration and slants from our down linemen and less being a barricade. I certainly don’t pretend to know CTG’s job, but I am pretty sure what did not work with huge, mobile guys last year (one of them was mobile anyway.) Turn’em loose Coach and let the Big Dawg eat!

  9. AthensHomerDawg

    Tennessee got gifted a lot of field position.

    • Athens Townie

      Exactly. One thing people seem to forget about when looking back at scores, is field position and turnovers.

      Our offense had a few games where we just didn’t take care of the ball and really put our D in a hole. Hell, part of the reason we got run over by Bama was going three and out a couple times in a row late in the game.

      I grade Grantham out quite a bit higher than the average fan. But, at the same time, what we saw against Kentucky was terrible and totally on the defense.

  10. Bo Bach thinks he’s an inept buffoon. Nick Saban seems to think he can coach. I am kind of still in a ‘wait longer and see’ mode, but I would love to side with Nick by the end of this year.

  11. IveyLeaguer

    I was one of the first to stick my neck out this past winter and say this defense will turn out be better than last year’s. A lot of that was because it won’t take all that much to be better, because that was not a good defense. It was an average SEC defense, at best, that fortunately had a great player at a key impact position.

    I still feel we’ll be better at some point this year because, personnel-wise, we’re better at almost every position group. When you can afford to move a John Taylor outside, then you know that your competition at Nose is more than adequate. Same with the rest of the Front 7, though we can’t afford any key losses at OLB. The safeties and corners are thin, but can be adequate if we stay healthy.

    But it’s not so much the talent level that separates this young group from their veteran counterparts of last year, as it is the calibre of player across the board. That large group that left such a big hole was also the last of the “cancer” bunch from previous years (Jarvis and several others excepted).

    Grantham inherited the young end of the cycle, who were not really his guys in the same sense the current bunch is, and he had no choice but to do the best he could with them. But they were already a metastasized “me” bunch by the time he arrived.

    This new group was not only recruited for his system, but should be more indicative of the type player he wants and, not coincidentally, the type of player more suited to Georgia’s defensive tradition. We should be able to play as unit once again, and not just be a bunch of ‘me guys’ trying to make individual plays. I doubt we’ll have many players half-assing it, whether on or off the field. And yes, there was plenty of that last year.

    The up-and-down, obsessive-compulsive, character of our defense last year was not a surprise to many of us because it was, characteristically, much the same as the defenses of the latter-half 2000’s, the key differences being Grantham and Jarvis Jones.

    So attrition has finally given us a fresh start, with a fresh, eager, and talented This year is exactly what the program has needed, a fresh, talented group of young Pups for Grantham to mold into his own image.

    We’ll now be able to see what he can do at Georgia. It won’t happen overnight, but I’m very excited about the year, and the new beginning for our defense.
    ~~~

  12. RichDog

    The problem I have with Grantham is big games. Look at 2011, his defense gave up 30 or more points to Boise, SC, LSU & Mich St. In 2012, his defense gave up 30 or more points to SC, Alabama, and Nebraska. Can’t win too many games like that.

  13. W Cobb Dawg

    I give huge credit to CTG for breathing life into the program at CMR’s low point. I think he deserves much of the credit for our recent success in Jax. And he appears to be a pretty good recruiter.

    But CTG came in saying we’d be attacking on D and 3 years later I’m still not convinced of that. I see too much bend-but-don’t-break. I agree with others that we have problems getting set sometimes and I also wonder if the D is just too complex.

    Not sure I’d put him in the top 10 of cfb DC’s, definitely not the top 5. But the 3 past years results would get him in the top 25. I know there’s plenty of BVG haters who might disagree, but CTG has quite a way to go to achieve the same level of success BVG had while he was with UGA.

  14. PlatoDawg

    Folks need the ease off of all the” Player’s felt entitled” stuff IMO.This has morphed into another one of those “Dawg Urban Legends” . it is both inaccurate and unfair to to kids who played on that unit.This is falls in line with the “Richt doesn’t have that “fire” to be able to win in the SEC or the “Bobo don’t have a clue” nonsense.
    Let’s dig into this subject a bit here….First off….the bulk of these “under achievers” on defense were the group of kids that were here when Grantham got the job.This team went from 6-7 to 10-4 and 12-2.This doesn’t seem to be the results of a group of guys “packing it in.”Secondly….If we want to say they goofed off in 2012 then let’s single out the loafers then….
    1.Jarvis Jones-Doubt anybody says that he was dogging it.
    2.Alex Ogletree-ditto
    3.Abry Jones-Kid got injured,if he was goofing off then so was Bennett and Brown.
    4.Shawn Williams-Think he was coasting last season?
    5.Sanders Commings-Would somebody please point out the games in which Sanders was goofing off.
    6.Rambo-Aw yeah,Rambo will get a lot of flak for being suspended for the 1st four games,but UGA was 4-0 in those games he missed.When he came back,he was as aggressive and solid as he was in 11.He lost a couple of jump balls but he was always around the ball and made a lot of big plays too.
    7.Branden Smith-Smith didn’t become the star we all hoped for when he signed,the concussions almost ended his career,but he played solid last season.
    The UGA secondary was one of the best units in all of college football last season,it’s really hard to see how anyone in this group could be accused of under achieving.

    8.C. Robinson-C Rob wasn’t an elite talent but he played hard and I don’t think anyone would question his effort last season.
    9.M.Gilliard-Ditto
    10.Kwame-Now we are getting warm….Kwame was an enigma…on one hand you have a kid that came into UGA as a fat and pudgy prospect,he turns it around and totally transforms his body during his redshirt season.This shows drive IMO,he had a solid 1st season at NT,it looked like Kwame and Jenkins were going to be a great tandem in 12.Then he comes out bigger,but a step or two slower last season (something else he had in common with Jenkins)Kwame just didn’t take that next step up last season,he got stood up and handled by one guy entirely too many times,starting with Buffalo.Over a two year span,I think Kwame was better than Jenkins and should have gotten more snaps.
    11.Jenkins-We may have a winner here.The kid had it all in his grasp and whiffed,looks like he spent too much time at the training table.
    I will say that Kwame and Jenkins had a position coach,I’m pretty sure he noticed how out of shape they were…all season.It really isn’t that big of a shock I guess,Garner had a recent track record of his kid’s play leveling off after a decent start.

    • ScoutDawg

      Yeah I agree, but, for all of those stats, THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER. Methinks, C. Wilson could have done better.

    • IveyLeaguer

      ["This is falls in line with the “Richt doesn’t have that “fire” to be able to win in the SEC or the “Bobo don’t have a clue” nonsense."]

      I respect your opinion, but just think you have it largely wrong. What the above tells me is you don’t really understand what I tried to say. Perhaps I didn’t say it well. It’s very hard to articulate, even in a longer post. But there’s a lot that goes into those conclusions. I’ve never been in either camp you describe above, and consider them both ridiculous.

      What I described, perhaps too broadly, is now a matter of record, and has been confirmed on the field the last 7 years of film, by any number of the the players themselves, and by others in the program or close to it. But once you finally see the whole picture, which requires the intake of a lot of information and takes a lot of time, no inside info is needed, really.

      I am, and always have been, one of Richt’s strongest supporters. But suffice to say there was a culture problem at Georgia, and it nearly cost Richt his job. The record, on and off the field, speaks for itself. But like always, the best evidence of all is the film itself.

      So we disagree, but thanks for taking the time to share your opinion.
      ~~~

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  16. ALB-Dawg

    I always felt like the twin giants, as effective as they were at times, were a tad slow and not in shape for the long haul. No one seems to have mentioned the change ups in Granthams’ assistants. This is the third year with a big change to his staff.

    • IveyLeaguer

      ["No one seems to have mentioned the change ups in Granthams’ assistants. This is the third year with a big change to his staff."]

      Glad you mentioned it. And it’s all been an upgrade, too, IMO.
      ~~~