“We’ll be fine. We have a lot more guys who can play.”

Here are a couple of numbers to keep in mind, via Tony Barnhart:

A year ago Georgia started the season with only 24 scholarship players on defense. Four players, including Rambo and Ogletree, had multi-game suspensions.

Right now Grantham has 38 players available if they all stay healthy until the opener with Clemson on Aug. 31.

And…

… in the last two seasons Georgia’s defense has forced 62 turnovers (second only to LSU in the SEC), while the Bulldogs have twice won the SEC East.

It occurred to me last night watching the replay of the Florida game that, while he’d like a shutdown defense as much as the next Saban disciple, Grantham places a higher priority on disruption – pressure on the quarterback and turnovers – than on complete down after down control.  Remember, the two biggest defensive plays in that game were turnovers at or in the end zone.  If Rambo and Jones don’t force those, that game may very well have turned out differently.

It’s an approach Grantham can get away with, too, because Georgia’s offense is so lethal.  If Murray can cut down on the interceptions this season and the offense can keep the fumble numbers down as it did in 2011, things may work out the way Grantham plans.

About these ads

26 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

26 responses to ““We’ll be fine. We have a lot more guys who can play.”

  1. DawgPhan

    I feel a lot better about the depth knowing that we have 81 scholarship players right now…when was the last time that happened. We have recruited very well over the last couple of years.

  2. Maybe the DAWGS will be like the Braves this year. Accomplishing things that have never been done before in the sport of COLLEGE FOOTBALL! I feel a WORLD SERIES WIN for THE BRAVES and A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE DAWGS. It is time….

  3. Tyler

    I feel confident that after the first few possessions in the Clemson game that our Defense will settle into it’s own. Last year, Buffalo, UK, SC, GT, and UT put up numbers on our Defense that should have completely shutdown those teams’ offenses. Those small schools also put up points against our D as well. I believe our D-line will be the cornerstone of not only our Defense, but the cornerstone of the whole conference too. We just have so many talented, stout guys up front. Mayes, Moose, Thornton, Smith, Taylor, Bailey, Toby J, Ray Drew, and Atkins can all contribute immediately. We just need to plug-in the best 3/4 , however many we need for the scheme at the time, and rotate consistently. The other key to the D will be how these young secondary players will adapt and how quickly they will begin to settle in. We have tons of fresh, new talent all over the Defense, it’s just a matter of how they all will work together come the first snap against Boyd and the kittens.

  4. Bulldawg165

    Just playing devil’s advocate here, but why do you think Georgia will continue to have such a good turnover margin again this year as opposed to regressing to the mean like you expect Florida to do?

    • Never said I did. That’s why there’s a big “IF” in front of my conclusion.

      About UF, I will say this: if you look at the Gators’ turnover margin numbers over the past few seasons, they’re wildly inconsistent. I don’t think it’s much of a leap to expect a drop, based on their track record.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        “…in the last two seasons Georgia’s defense has forced 62 turnovers…” Damn! And here I thought (based on what you said) that fumble recoveries were just luck! Let’s hope the Dawgs stay lucky this season, too. :)

  5. Not sure of the fumble totals (I thought they were pretty good), but I do know Murray only threw 10 picks. Less than 1 INT/game and a 3.6:1 rd/int ratio is pretty dang good, for our offense, through 1414 games. Less turnovers is always a goal but, outside of the UF game, I think wanting or expecting less than last season is unrealistic.

    Outside of the USC game where the team failed, the offense did their part last year so Grantham and his defense are gonna have to step up if the program takes the next step. I’ll give the D the UF game, THOUGH, I can’t believe it was that close given the gates turnovers. Disruption and TOs are great until you face teams who can run roughshod over you, then you have to be able to do the fundamentals and get some freaking stops. Gonna have to have more than that if the program is gonna take the next step.

    • Eight fumbles last season. And Murray only threw eight picks in his first season as a starter.

      • In his first season he also had quite a bit less yards, tds, attempts, yards per competition and completion percentage. Putting it in context, he was still much better last year with only 2 more ints. I’ll take that trade.

        • Irwin R Fletcher

          Just a quick point…I’m not going to say UGA didn’t get drubbed…because they did…but just to point out the obvious…when you dig a quick 21 point hole due to a missed pick, an offensive turnover, and a punt return for a TD, you take the defensive gameplan of disruption completely out of play. Carolina threw 3 passes after the punt return for a TD. Three. They attempted a fourth and got sacked by Jarvis. The South Carolina game was literally Bacari Rambo’s grasp on an INT, a Murray tipped pass for a pick. and/or a bad bounce on Byrd’s fumble away from being a completely different game. It is a really poor choice to try to take anything from that game other than Carolina jumped Georgia and then milked the lead versus an offense that had no spark.

  6. Macallanlover

    Good point about the increased disruption/turnovers and CTG’s focus on that. I have been critical about our ability to play “shutdown” defense and get off the field but you have to temper by giving credit to what are improved at. Defensive turnovers are a huge momentum builder and contributes to the offensive production. Frankly, that was what I looked forward to when we switched to the 3-4 and had forgotten there is a trade-off.

    I like the things I am hearing about this group of defensive players, we may get burned a few times early but I have confidence the offense will be able to keep track with the other team’s scoring. If I were objective about it game by game, I would not trade CTG’s issues with the other team’s DC, it looks like they have bigger worries than we do despite our youth. Clemson is the biggest offensive concern I see on our schedule by far but has the weakest defense of our biggest tests. Good chance to learn under fire before the first “must win” game against SC (wish the trip to Death Valley were on Thursday so we had two more days to use the film as a training tool.)

    • sniffer

      Remember “Dooleys Junkyard Dogs” and the swarming defenses of that era? Dang I miss seeing 5, 6 or 7 Dawgs tackle a guy. The game has changed and all I have are my memories (and those are dimming by the day)

      • Macallanlover

        You just hit my favorite term for a strong defense…… “swarm”. I agree about seeing 5-7 red helmets in the picture around the player with the ball, good things seem to happen with that. I always liked the “desert swarm” defense designation when Arizona used it decades ago. That would be a grade I gave my defensive players, a point for everytime you are in a “tight video shot” of the ball at the end of the play.

      • Remember those half time shows when James Brown was dressed in all red on a black stage singing Junk Yard Dawgs. Those were the days my friend!
        Ahhh….I can feel Autumn closing in. .. Anticipation……. :)

  7. Otto

    I think the 2 fit each other at Bama and UGA. Bama plays slow ball control offense typically and yes that is changing some. UGA’s offense is more lethal or explosive but also has more shorter posseions (even on scoring drives) or 3 and outs. It is unreasonable in my opinion to expect Bama shut down defense stats if the offense is not very much ball/clock control oriented.

    I also believe that you have to look deeper than jsut time of possesion to see the style of play. Number os pfessesion and the average amount of time the offense holds the ball per drive must be considered.

  8. Dog in Fla

    Mark has lost control over Todd’s roster management techniques

  9. Cosmic Dawg

    So you’re saying the defensive strategy depends on Cox – sorry, I mean Murray – scoring a lot of points? :)

  10. mdcgtp

    Senator, let me offer the following nuance to what you and Mac have stated here. I do not think turnovers forcing turnovers and impact plays is the driver of our defensive strategy. Rather, I think it is an outgrowth (symptom if you will) of it.

    Certainly, Grantham emphasizes to the players the importance of stripping the ball, but I don’t think he emphasizes that IN LIEU of fulflilling their assignments to stop the play. Meaning, I don’t think he says, “you missed your assignment on the down before, but if you go strip the ball on the next plays, all is well.” Rather, they are part of the players assignments.

    Like any good DC, the goal is to have the defense play physical and fast. While that may seem simplistic, there is no scheme that covers up for a defense that does not hustle nor play physical. We can look at our own history for an example of such. Our defensive scheme did not change under Martinez. What changed was the players, the chemistry of the coaches, the culture of the program, and the leadership and standards of the players and coaches. Yes, there were instances like the UT 2009 game where it seemed like our DC seemed incapable of positioning our defense for a play that everyone knew was coming, but for the most part Martinez’s failures were not scheme related per se. They were effort related, physical related, etc. At other times, that same scheme accomplished the very same things Grantham hopes to accomplish.

    While much is made of spacing and 3-4 v. 4-3, I still think it comes down to playing physical and hustling. Pressure is designed to come “organically” from the front 4 with the occassional timely blitz. The advantage of the 3-4 is that it enables the DC to use a wider variety of personnel to rush the passer. Read Peyton Mannings quote about being able to identify the rushers in a 4-3 vs. not knowing who they are against a 3-4 for confirmation of such.

    How do you play “fast and physical”? well we know that is a multi-faceted question, but in large part, its all the things we talk about around here. Get good players, make sure they in good condition, pushed to compete hard, given a scheme that leverages their strengths, and demand results or put the next guy in….

    this was probably longer than it should have been, but it goes back to my core belief that this is the year where we really learn whether or not Grantham is a championship caliber coach. Given the sheer numbers and the apparent high percentage of those players who appear to be capable of contributing, we should get steadily better as the year progresses.

    One final thought….I think the physicality of our OL is absolutely HUGE for the defense. If second team guys are playing PHYSICAL, it gives our prepares our defense better and gives Grantham and Wilson a much much better sense of what we have in our front 7.

    • Macallanlover

      I don’t feel the strategy is “either/or”, not are we always in a 3-4 defense. I just feel the 3-4 gives up something (power running effectiveness) to get something, more mobility and disruption caused by the number of attacking, second level players from new angles. That confusion in reads for the OL and QBs leads to more sacks, and pressure forced throws. It is a risk-reward decision and I feel CTG has benefited from the alignment in regards to turnovers and more TFL plays but the payback is more yards gained by power rushing teams like LSU and Bama. Ideally you want both at various times in the games/schedule so you run more 4-3, or tweak the rush pressure. I know this is poorly stated to some but the easiest for me to communicate what my feeling is.

  11. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Maybe depth will be the salve that heals the run defense. It’s my biggest question mark heading into the season.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      That and no midnight trips to the Waffle House by our nose tackle.

      • sniffer

        That, and may I add, saying “no” when Danny Inman says, “Lets go to General Beauregard’s for awhile”.

        • The Lone Stranger

          Wasn’t that old carouser roaming around the football facilities last season in some capacity as an unpaid “assistant?”

  12. 69Dawg

    Did I dream it or did I hear that our 1′s were going against our 1′s this fall for the first time. That has usually been reserved for Spring only.

  13. IveyLeaguer

    Nice post. Certainly you can emphasize turnovers without it being the primary component of your defensive philosophy.

    I would say creating turnovers is A key component of Grantham’s philosophy, however. As it is in any cutting-edge, aggressive defense, college or pro.
    ~~~