Reading the defensive bye week tea leaves

Based on what I’m reading from Emerson and Dasher, it looks like:

  1. The coaches are sticking with Brendan Langley, despite his shaky performance against South Carolina.
  2. The coaches are looking for a rotation at one of the inside linebacker slots – Ramik Wilson’s.
  3. The coaches are pondering a change at strong safety.

Neither of the last two points should come as a surprise.  Yes, Wilson’s made a lot of tackles, but it seems like he’s doing a lot of chasing out there, particularly in pass coverage.  Herrera, however, has been the most consistent player on defense through the first two games.  The first freshman ILB who can stay in position sounds like he’ll be in line for a bunch of playing time.

Strong safety’s been an area of weakness.  Norman is supposed to be the one who knows the defense backwards and forwards, but he got exposed at Clemson on that Sammy Watkins’ TD reception.  And part of what made Langley’s day last Saturday so tough was that he seemed to get little safety support in coverage.  (Moore looked lost on one of those TD passes.)

I get that the coaches see a lot of potential in Langley.  What makes me a little nervous at this point is that I thought he looked better in the opener than he did against South Carolina.  Some of that may just be due to Spurrier’s skill as a play caller, true.  But I also wonder why Sheldon Dawson isn’t seeing much playing time so far.

Needless to say, it would be good to see the Dawgs open up a lead against North Texas comfortable enough to allow Grantham to rotate some players out there to check who can contribute, because it’s starting to look like LSU may be competent on offense this season.

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46 Comments

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46 responses to “Reading the defensive bye week tea leaves

  1. TennesseeDawg

    Norman isn’t athletic enough to play SS in the SEC. There I said it. Can’t really blame Langley. We’ve thrown a true freshman in there on single coverage, almost no pass rush, with no safety help then complain about him?

    • gastr1

      Right. He can’t really help in the run game at all, being too small to tackle and too slow to catch anyone. In the passing game he hasn’t shown to be a whole lot better. Langley is going to get burned…we just have to acknowledge that the D will give up some plays all year. The pass rush may help later on, though, when not facing a running QB.

      • The Lone Stranger

        And what I thought after seeing “when not facing a running QB” is that LSU comes calling with just that prescription. Mettenberger may have a cannon but he also possesses feet of granite. The game may be a race of unhinging Mettenberger before he can undress Langley.

        • William

          To Langley’s defense, he has acknowledged what was wrong and is working on it. It’s not lack of talent. He just wasn’t reading his keys enough. Got caught with his eyes in the backfield too often. That is something that can be drilled into him this off week, and refined some during the N. Texas game. I’m sure Grantham is going to drill it into him. Freshman mistake. Not like Norman, who supposedly knows his stuff, but then still gets faked out.

          • gastr1

            It’s not just that, though; he is really raw in his movements and technique. There were several occasions where he really would have been right on the ball but for wrong step or two. The exactitude of motion required to be a competent CB is unfathomable to me… seems as though he just needs more work.

      • Patrick

        Just FYI.

        Connor Norman is faster than Baccari Rambo and JHC.

        He’s not as fast as Sammy Watkins, but few are.

        I’m not arguing that he should be playing every snap, but this “too slow to start at safety in the SEC” crap is purely a function of his race.

        He gained ground on Sammy after Swann missed the tackle. JHC looked like he was running in quicksand trying to track down Mike Davis.

        • AthensHomerDawg

          Well… white guys can’t play defensive back or running back. And black guys can’t play quarterback. So there. I said it. ;-)

        • gastr1

          OK…so assuming you’re right, why is he clearly not a very good player? Is it lack of strength/size? Why was he a walk on if he’s such a great athlete?

          Fill me in here… my eyes tell me one thing but you’re telling me another.

          • Patrick

            Why do you think he’s not a good player?
            Because he couldn’t run down Sammy Watkins after Swann whiffed on a tackle?

            I’m not a coach. But clearly the coaches have seen something in him that merits playing time.

            My point is….Norman is getting a critical eye that nobody else on the team is getting. Which is easy to do, because, you know, he’s easy to spot back there.
            But seriously, watch Matthews & JHC on the 75-yard Mike Davis run again. What did your eyes tell you about them on that play? What would your eyes have told you if that were Norman?

            Again, not a coach. Maybe Matthews & JHC are better options than Norman right now…..but I don’t think that’s obvious unless you want it to be.

            • gastr1

              For the record, I thought he did all right on the Watkins play–it took a perfect pass in a tight window to beat him. But I think he is a weak player because I have watched him miss tackles and be out of position in every game. He is never the player who blitzes even though Grantham sends blitzes all the time. I never see him rolling over and helping in time on pass plays. Safety is a an impact position much of the time, and I cannot recall him making a single impact play–interception, forced fumble, big hit, QB hurry on a blitz. He would be last on the D in “dawg bones” if they were given out.

              But most damningly, Norman has the most experience in the secondary but cannot stay on the field versus true freshmen. The COACHES think he’s a mediocre player. Maybe you should take your high opinion of CN to them so they can get on the ball and get it straight, eh?

  2. Lrgk9

    The DBs that stole from their teammates and got kicked off the team are to blame.

  3. James Stephenson

    I do not mind Langley being out there. The best way to learn is playing. And he did tighten up the coverage in the 2nd half. By mid-November he should be pretty damn good.

  4. I thought Josh Harvey Clemons and Matthews looked really bad on those long runs by Mike Davis. Someone needs to teach JHC how to swing his arms when he is running. You run slower when you keep your arms glued at your hips. Needless to say, the JHC hype we read about after the Clemson loss was just hype. There is obviously a reason why it has taken him 3 years to crack the starting lineup.

    • I know I’m ready to write him off as a failure after one start.

    • GaskillDawg

      It is bad it took him three years to crack the starting line-up in his 15th game as a Dawg. Three years ago he was playing at Lowndes County. Was in high school two years ago, too.

      • He’s a sophomore, so it took him 2 years. And the guys he was playing behind are now in the NFL, with one guy who just started as a rookie (Rambo). So to answer your question, no.

        • Skeptic Dawg

          If JHC is the great talent he has been hyped to be, I am certain he would have found playing time last season. I am not saying he is a bust right now, nor am I proclaiming him to be a star of any nature.

          • sUGArdaddy

            Sometimes I wonder if people have ever actually seen football. JSW must have been terrible because it took him 3 years to see significant time at WR. I mean, no one in the history of college football has ever gotten better throughout their career.

            Good Lord, JHC has started one game against a pretty good team. He made a lot of tackles, recovered a fumble and made some mistakes. He’s gonna be a good one.

            • RandallPinkFloyd

              This ^

              It’s like we all think that every freshmen should come in and contribute the way Todd Gurley did last year. I guess Keith Marshall is a bust since he’s not as good as Gurley.

            • charlottedawg

              Fair enough. But a legitimate question then is, how many football players have gone from meh their freshman or RS freshman year then improved to the point they were a game changing type player their senior or junior year? All the players I can think of that turned out to be pretty special showed at least a few glimpses their first year of action, AJ, Murray, Gurley, Mitchell, Jarvis (granted he was a RS Soph), Ogletree, Rambo, Stafford, etc. The only one I can think of in the latter category would be Marlon Brown. Not saying JHC is a bust after 1 game or that JSW hasn’t played well, I just can’t really recall a player that “came out of nowhere” at least at Georgia.

        • adam

          Yes he’s a sophomore. That means he’s only had 1 year of experience. Not 2. You don’t get a second year of experience until AFTER you’ve completed it. He’s gone through 2 fall camps, 1 season, and 1 game. That’s it. At this point in 2009, a lot of people were pretty iffy on Rambo. Now he’s a rookie starter in the NFL. Give JHC some time.

    • JN

      Except that this is his second year on the team…

  5. And I sure hope we scrimmage, tackle and have lots of contact over these next 2 weeks and not repeat the same mistakes in preparation as in years past.

  6. SemperFiDawg

    I am going to hold my opinion on LSU’s offensive competency until they play a conference game, and even then I’m not sure Auburn, or us for that matter (unless our secondary improves noticeably), will provide much of a litmus test.

    • charlottedawg

      If they can rack up a bunch of yards on TCU, they’re competent, or at least competent enough to the point where our defense will get burned again if they don’t get their shit together.

      • Totally agree. TCUs defense is head and shoulders better than UGAs. My only hope is playing on road in Athens, compared to the Jerry Dome, where it was most likely 50/50 or better, will be a bigger deal to Mettenberger.

        • adam

          Wait.

          Head and shoulders better? Based on what? Giving up 40 points to LSU? Or giving up 17 to Southeastern Louisana (which sounds like a fictional school in a movie or book)?

      • Will (the other one)

        They’ve traditionally been very good, but took a step back going against Big 12 defenses week-in-week-out.

  7. Noonan

    A decent pass rush would help the DBs a lot. Maybe we can tee off on the Remerton groper since he is not a threat to run.

  8. Russ

    LSU will be more than competent. We will need to make some great strides on defense the next couple of weeks to be fully prepared.

  9. charlottedawg

    I’m hoping the reason Langley and Matthews keep getting all the snaps is because they’re really just talented playmakers whose abilities will manifest themselves with more experience, not because the rest of the secondary is just that bad. Seeing Connor Norman on the field worries me that it’s the latter.

    • William

      I think they two you mentioned show extreme talent in practices, and that is why they are getting the nod. From all I’ve read, they are talented and smart for freshman. However, even the best will get burned until the game slows down for them. I’ve heard both mention that they know what cost them in this past game, and are striving to correct them this open date. Norman is back there because he can make the calls, although Grantham has said that Norman’s spot is going to be tinkered with. Since JHC plays the Star most times, I assume that means Mauger and Fluker will be getting some reps soon. At least, that’s what I am reading/assuming.

  10. Bright Idea

    North Texas has a pretty good senior QB. He will test the defense but the offense should light it up.

  11. W Cobb Dawg

    Not worried about Langley’s ability, just his confidence at this point. JHC should have gotten a lot more reps last year, even if just mop-up situations – one more reason for the O to build big leads and not sit on leads against inferior teams. And I agree, where the heck is Sheldon Dawson? Wasn’t he billed as our next Boykin.

  12. mdcgtp

    Sheldon Dawson has been hurt. Not reported in injury reports, but it has been rumored/reported on the vent that he was not healthy for either of our first two games.

  13. 69Dawg

    Has anyone else noticed that we were spying Shaw with one LB most of the time. The LB would not rush or drop but was patrolling the LS waiting for Shaw to run. In spite of this he still ran. Our tackling has been the weakest we have seen in years.

    • adam

      We scrimmaged in full pads twice this week. Should help with tackling.

      And being able to use Floyd as a pass-rusher is definitely going to help going forward.