Freshmen ball hawks

Interesting tidbit from Paul Myerberg’s excellent Georgia preview:

Georgia is 18-3 since the start of the 2007 season when intercepting two or more passes, including a 3-0 mark in such games a year ago. In fact, this record improves to 18-1 when counting only regular-season games; two of these losses came in bowl play, to Michigan State in the 2012 Outback Bowl and UCF in the 2010 Liberty Bowl.

You know who I bet already knew that?

Todd Grantham is usually pretty tight-lipped with information about his players, schemes or basically almost everything. But when it comes to stats, especially good ones, Georgia’s defensive coordinator can rattle them off quickly.

Such as when the subject of forcing turnovers came up.

“I think since I’ve been here we’re probably winning 95 percent of our games since we’re plus-one or more (in turnover margin),” Grantham said. “And we’ve had what, 62 in the last two years. I think it’s critical you get turnovers.”

All of which may shed some light on Brendan Langley’s and Shaq Wiggins’ rapid climb up the depth chart.

So there are indications that Georgia may be strategizing around it by emphasizing turnovers a bit more – though of course Grantham will never come out and say that. But the fact freshman Brendan Langley vaulted to a first-team cornerback spot – over sophomore Sheldon Dawson – is a hint, along with fellow freshman Shaq Wiggins earning playing time. Langley and Wiggins have only been on campus a month, but in that time they’ve continually been credited with interceptions, whether it be in scrimmages or game-like situations in practices.

“You want guys that have ball skills,” receiver Malcolm Mitchell said. “Those two have it, and have been making picks every scrimmage. In my mind, they’re ready.”

“That (turnover) is definitely always a point of emphasis,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “But this year I feel like, and the defense feels like we have to cause as many turnovers as possible, so we need to get the offense on the field, rack up some more points, and just help the team out. Because I think whenever we’re plus-1 or plus-2 in turnovers in a game we end up winning the game.”

High risk, high reward.  It sure seems like Grantham’s willing to risk a few rookie mistakes that may cost him at certain points in the game in return for the chance to break Clemson’s serve enough to come away with a win.  If that’s the case, the Tigers are going to get some yardage.  It remains to be seen how much of that yardage turns out to be meaningless.

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43 Comments

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43 responses to “Freshmen ball hawks

  1. Brendan Langley and Shaq Wiggins have ball skills alright. Can’t wait to see how great our defense is going to be. We will be seeing some very special things from these boys with balls of steel!

  2. Meaningless yardage was a Georgia specialty last year. 18th is scoring defense vs. 32 in total defense. I’ll take it.

    • Will (the other one)

      If we can tighten up the rush D too, the yardage might not even be worse this year.

      • The Lone Stranger

        Though I gotta say the end runs outside the tackles vs. Clemmins are a distinct concern. I think Tahj Boyd has a natural edge to his game that will present opportunities for even the young Dawg 2ndary to snag some picks.

  3. Brandon

    The last Georgia D coordinator to emphasize getting turnovers as the main job of the defense was Kevin Ramsey. Now I think Grantham is just playing the cards he’s been dealt but this is not a good sign that they are talking that way. We are going to need to score practically every time we get the ball me thinks in order to win. If we lose 55-38, I am sure it will still be Bobo’s fault in many minds but really it’ll be the devastating departures/graduation on defense.

    • C’mon, every defensive coordinator stresses turnovers. Every one.

      • Brandon

        The words “main job” were meant to acknowledge that the stressing of turnovers is not unique. I picked up some we don’t think we can stop them so we’re just going to try to get the ball vibe from those comments, that is what is unsettling, Ramsey had that philosophy somewhat by choice, Grantham is just working with what he’s got this year I suspect but its a cause for concern, hope I’m wrong and we totally thrash them. I also hope I’m wrong that people will blame Bobo “taking the foot off the gas” and other similar bullshit if we lose while scoring 30-40 points.

        • Honestly, I don’t get the Ramsey comparison here. Ramsey wasn’t a poor DC because he emphasized turnovers. He was a poor DC because he was in way over his head and had no idea what he was doing.

          Just curious – what would you do differently if you were in Grantham’s shoes right now?

          • Brandon

            By continuing to say that I believe Grantham “playing the cards he has been dealt” and “working with what he has” I am trying to convey that it is my belief that Grantham is doing the best he can with what he has. My point is that just hearing this kind of talk makes me more nervous about the defense this year (particularly early on until we get some experience) than I already was. I also meant to express my opinion that if we score 30-40 points and lose criticism of the offense will be misplaced. If I am communicating poorly give me a break, I haven’t had any coffee.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            What’s with this “emphasizing turnovers” business? We all know that fumble recoveries are totally random, right? :)

        • I think I can name about 90 FBS teams that would trade what they have on defense for what Grantham has on defense this year. “Just working with what he’s got” makes it sound like he’s trying to coach up Georgia State’s defense.

          • Brandon

            We are playing the No. 8 team in the country on Saturday however, whose offense is probably the chief reason for that ranking. That is why I am concerned, irrespective of the fact that I agree our talent level (even if it is young) on defense is better than at least 90 or so FBS teams.

  4. DawgPhan

    Teams win championship on timely turnovers.
    If you dont focus on getting turnovers you are just hoping for some luck.
    While I would rather be lucky than good, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

    Brandon, haven’t you read the posters?

    Criticizing a DC for focusing on turnovers is like blaming the sun for shining, the birds for singing, it is just who they are.

  5. Otto

    I like what I heaar and I certainly like it better than what I see out of 3rd and Chavis. CTG does seem to play to what he has which is what a good college coach does.

    I am still concerned with UGA’s D at Clemson especially if UGA goes hurry and has troubling like they did against Boise early on.

    • Otto

      *I am still concerned with UGA’s D at Clemson especially if UGA’ s offense goes hurry up and has trouble moving the ball like they did against Boise early on. A tired young D on a hot night would not be ideal.

    • You are not giving these DAWGS enough credit on D. THEY HAVE GOT THIS! Been doing it everyday since spring.

  6. Cojones

    But Brandon has a point about why he is nervous. Some feel that Grantham is riding on NFL rep and is not being as introspective about last year’s D ground game as he should. Beginning with Buffalo we were assured that it would be fixed, but it persisted all season and through the SECCG. Yep, the spread O is hard to defend: – why not come right out and say it ? A running QB exascerbates the situation. Saying that, by gambling, we will get more caused turnovers and influence the game to our benefit is stretching a cause and affect premise, stats be damned.

    I don’t care when they gamble to go after the QB, or, when wrestling for the ball, they allow a couple more meaningless yards, but we don’t need stats to tell us to gamble. Gambling comes from the heart of the coordinator and if he feels we have to do them all to beat Clemson, then I’m nervous right alongside Brandon.

    • Will (the other one)

      I don’t think our horrid rush D #s last year can be pinned on the spread. UT hit near 200 yds and no way was Bray running. Ditto Bama and McCarron and their 350 rush yards. But CTG can’t or won’t say “we didn’t play enough guys and Jenkins and/or Gathers were not in the best of shape to play the snaps they did” or say “RG is a good recruiter but didn’t have his guys ready to play.”
      My hope is some of those things were true though, because it’ll mean the D, secondary issues aside, could still improve from last season. Which could make for a great season.

  7. Gravidy

    I enjoyed reading Myerberg’s piece on Georgia, but one of the things he wrote cought my eye. He listed the loss in the SECCG as the low point of the season. Maybe if I played on the team, that would have been the low point for me. But as a fan, the low point was the unmitigated ass-kicking by SC, and it ain’t even close. What do y’all think the low point of the season was?

    • I still haven’t watched a replay of the SECCG.

      • Gravidy

        I finally did watch it a couple of weeks ago. I had to cleanse my system to prepare for the new season. But for whatever reason, even though the loss was painful from a “what could have been” perspective, I felt a lot better about where the team was and how it was playing than I did after the SC game.

      • Brandon

        Me neither, and I never will.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I watched replays of the last 30 seconds of the SECCG about 20 times. That was the low point of the season coaching-wise.

        • We’ll have to agree to disagree.

          With 15 seconds left, I still believe that not spiking it was the right call. Mitchell was even with Milliner in man coverage when the ball was thrown, and he would have been open or interfered with if the ball wasn’t tipped. Alabama was stuck in their prevent defense personnel package, meaning they weren’t going to get much pass rush on Murray. If you spike it, Alabama calls timeout, and they can put in a new personnel package, and who knows what blitz may have been called. UGA just got unlucky in that one rusher jumped out of his shoes and barely tipped a pass into the hands of the wrong receiver.

          If there is somewhere to get upset, how about wasting the first timeout on the play before Cooper’s long TD.

      • I’ve watched it until the Ogletree return probably a half dozen times, but I’ve always changed the channel after that play. My wife wanted to watch the end the other night, so I did. The defense really wasn’t as bad as I remember. They just had an awful 8 minutes or so in the third quarter when they gave up ~150 yards rushing… or nearly half the total for the whole game. If UGA turns either of their 3 & outs into drives, the defense might not have been as gassed, and the outcome might have been a little different.

      • Rugbydawg 79

        me neither

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Post uSC…..That was a long walk back to the car through hostile territory. Blah.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      +1000

      The SECCG was the high point of the season. That’s right, the HIGH point of the season. Our boys got punched in the mouth and they punched back and got about as close to a draw as CFB will allow.

      Also, before I watched it again my main memory was Alabama running all over us in the second half – and they did – but if you rewatch it you’ll see our Bulldogs got two big stops in the 4th quarter. The D was not without its redemptive moments.

      • Cosmic Dawg

        And yes on the USC game, Gravidy – that was simply embarrassing, no other word to describe it.

  8. 69Dawg

    Off hand I can think of a couple of times last year when a DB (usually Rambo) would be in position to go for the ball and did, only to have it taken away by the receiver. You live by the big play you due by the big play. I guess that’s why it is a gamble.

  9. Cosmic Dawg

    I’m not a huge CTG fan or detractor, but I wonder how much this math works out:

    > CTG goes for more turnovers, turnover margin improves dramatically (from #118 in 2009 to #18 in 2010).

    > Focusing on turnovers (MAY) mean you give up a few more points / big plays, so our ppg allowed suffers a little more than it might otherwise.

    > HOWEVER – Getting more turnovers also means you give the ball back to Bobo, who can now score more points.

    So perhaps while we may be frustrated at CTG’s ppg, perhaps his philosophy (and its success) is being reflected more in our positive offensive numbers than in our negative defensive numbers.

  10. Eyeore Dawg

    This article says more about our turnover-prone offense getting suckered by high school DBs.

    This is not good news.