Purging Grantham

And so the inevitable comparisons have begun.

That was apparent in the first practice when Pruitt got his point across that he wanted things done the right way with technique in a little different way than Todd Grantham, Georgia’s defensive coordinator the past four years who left for Louisville.

“I think he might be a little more meaner than Coach Grantham,” Wilson said. “You better learn it.”

For all the denials about the system’s complexity last year, that’s not what they’re saying now.

It’s just two practices into Pruitt’s tenure as defensive coordinator, but it’s already apparent that he’s doing his best to simply (sic) things. For one, Pruitt said he would last month, and with the onset of spring practice this week, his new players have picked up on it.

“It’s a lot more easy,” senior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson said.

“It gives everybody a chance to be a player,” sophomore safety Quincy Mauger said. “Do what we came here for as a D-1 athlete. Make plays. We don’t have to think a lot about ‘Where do we need to be?’ and ‘What is this guy doing?’ ”

Under former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, Georgia ran a more complicated scheme, which helped with a proven veteran unit. But it can be the undoing of a young unit, leading to communication problems and players being out of position.

Grantham mostly resisted the idea his schemes were too complicated. He also maintained that last year’s young defense had less thrown at it than the veteran units of 2011 and 2012.

But whatever the case, it was obvious that defenders were confused last year.

“I think that was a problem last year, because we had a lot of younger guys playing who couldn’t pick up on the system as quick as others,” senior nose tackle Mike Thornton said. “So this is gonna help to our advantage a lot.”

Even the attention as a position coach gets noticed.

In his first three seasons, Moore played for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who oversaw the outside linebackers. Pruitt is Georgia’s first defensive coordinator overseeing the secondary since Willie Martinez in 2009.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Coach Grantham, but Coach Pruitt is more hands-on technique wise,” Moore said. “It’s better for the defensive backs, because we have a defensive coordinator back there who basically knows everything. He’s our coach, and we can ask him any questions.

“I know a lot of coaches are like that, but I think having Coach Pruitt back there with us will be a big plus.”

Now as a sports fan, I’ve always recognized the virtues of KISS.  And it’s obvious Pruitt believes in what he’s doing; getting his players to buy into that is the first big step in improving the defense.  But I also think Grantham was honest in his insistence that he had dumbed things down last year because of the greenness of his troops, and we saw how much that helped as the season progressed.  So while I’m glad to hear the happy talk, I’ll believe Mike Thornton’s right when I see it.

Thornton is entering his fifth year in the program, so he’s in as good a position as anybody to assess how Pruitt’s playbook is different than Grantham’s. The two defensive coordinators come from similar backgrounds, each running a 3-4 base defense, so the plays and schemes are going to be similar.

But the terminology is a bit simpler so far under Pruitt, according to Thornton.

“It’s not a lot of trying to think on the fly, or read keys a little bit quicker than you have to,” Thornton said. “It’s basically he calls a play, we get to it, we make an adjustment, and we just go. We go balls (out).”

Was that what this defense needed?

“Yeah,” Thornton said.

I guess I just found my first G-Day item to watch.

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40 Comments

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40 responses to “Purging Grantham

  1. To be fair, I doubt if Grantham was doing anything very complex his first two spring practices after being hired either. I remember a lot of happy talk from that spring about how everybody was picking up the new system so quickly. Believe me I’m on the Pruitt bandwagon, but I mean how complex can you get in two practices?

    I think part of Grantham’s problem was he thought he would only have to go through that process one time of teaching the very basics, then it would be a natural progression from there. I mean, at the NFL level, you just don’t go through a situation where you’re replacing 9 defensive starters from one year to the next, and even when you are replacing people, half of them are veterans who were brought in during free agency as opposed to rookies. So once you install your defense that first year, it’s a progression from that point forward.

    For the life of me I can’t remember which coach, but I remember an article a long time ago talking about maybe Lombardi or somebody or like that, but they would start the first practice of the year every year by holding up a ball and saying “Gentlemen, this is a football”. Sometimes you gotta go back to the very basics and start from there. If Grantham had treated last year’s D the way he treated that first D in 2010, might have seen a little better results.

    • Also, with Wilson’s comment about Pruitt being meaner than Grantham, makes me think back to the fire we used to see from Grantham early on (remember his tirade at Rambo that first game?). Can’t imagine a coach being meaner than that……if he was like that during a game in front of everyone, I can only imagine what he was like when you screwed up in practice.

      Grantham definitely didn’t have that same edge the last couple of years. That’s just an observation, not a criticism, you don’t have to throw tantrums to be a good coach. I do wonder how much of that was a natural mellowing and how much was maybe Richt asking him to tone down the act a bit.

      • bulldogbry

        Agree. I always hated that “Grantham-has-the-fire-that-Martinez-doesn’t” talk. Yelling on the sidelines doesn’t impress me. And once you give a choke sign to a 20 year old kid, you’ve stepped WAY over the line. Kind of hard to defend that by saying you’re ‘competitive’.

        • And just for the record, from what I can remember watching FSU games last year, I’m pretty sure Pruitt maintains his composure pretty well during the games, not trying to imply that Pruitt is gonna be like Grantham was early on. I was just saying that if Grantham was like that during the games, surely he was a mean S.O.B. during practices too, so must have mellowed a good bit towards the end if Pruitt is noticeably meaner.

        • charlottedawg

          I think a DC usually needs some fire because defense is a lot more emotional than offense. That being said, Willie’s and Grantham’s problem wasn’t that they weren’t “intense” enough. It’s that they couldn’t communicate technique and scheme to their players. Willie also couldn’t really recruit or develop guys either once he became DC.

          • Yeah, they weren’t good teachers. And Grantham wasn’t willing to compromise his style and system, and adjust to the college game. Or perhaps the creativity just wasn’t there. IDK.

            Whatever, it’s about good teaching, efficiency, intensity, and just plain ole common sense. That’s where the simplification comes in. But at the end of the day, we’ll still be multiple, and we’ll be able to adjust to anything an offense might be doing.

            We’ll just be doing it more efficiently, because there isn’t any rust or arthritis inherently built into the system. And we’ll be doing it better, regardless of personnel, because we’ll be teaching it better.
            ~~~

    • Russ

      I believe it was Heisman who held up a ball and told the players it was better to have died as a child than to fumble the ball.

      • Whiskeydawg

        Yes. What a great quote. I think it was Lombardi who gave the speech, “gentlemen this is a football”

        • It was Lombardi. He did it his first day of practice as a HC at St.Cecilia high school in New Jersey. To begin practice, he held up the ball, and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

          Then he threw the ball away and said, “And that’s the last you’ll see of it for the next 2 weeks.” He then half-killed them with conditioning and fundamentals.

          But he carried the saying around with him, all the way to the Packers.
          ~~~

        • Ellis

          Reminds me of John Wooden beginning each season by showing his players how to put their socks on properly.

    • Dboy

      ” If Grantham had treated last year’s D the way he treated that first D in 2010, might have seen a little better results.”

      Yea, but the 2010 defense wasn’t so great either.

  2. Normaltown Mike

    Somebody at the Butts-Mehre is really busy touching up old photos.

    • NoAxeToGrind

      For the historical record: The one on the left is V. Molotov, the one in the center is I.Stalin and the one on the right is N. Yezhov, chief of the NKVD.

  3. eagledawg

    “The best way to win is not to lose, the best way not to lose is to not make mistakes, the best way to not make mistakes is to keep it simple”. – Erk Russell

  4. charlottedawg

    If in 2014 the defense sucks again, fans will start complaining that the scheme is too simple and we need some complexity and disguises.

  5. Ubiquitous GA Alum

    Senator, I hesitate to ask but which part of Thorton’s quote will you be closely monitoring at G-Day?

  6. Scorpio Jones, III

    “Under former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, Georgia ran a more complicated scheme, which helped with a proven veteran unit.”

    Not only a veteran unit, but a veteran unit populated here and there with high NFL draft picks.

    I have this memory, from Missouri that year, that there were still, on that veteran unit, some folks who looked lost.

    Todd Grantham…forgotten, but not gone.

    G-Day will be sorta interesting, but what will be really interesting will be evident about the third quarter of the South Carolina game.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      I wasn’t impressed with the 2012 D that had all veterans. There’s some kind of revisionist history going here about the 3 years before 2013. Truth is, CTG had one good year and 3 lousy-to-mediocre years at UGA.

      • Thanks for the reality reset.

        I wasn’t impressed with the 2012 D that had all veterans. There’s some kind of revisionist history going here about the 3 years before 2013.

        It’s going on all over the country and the Dawgosphere.

        Truth is, CTG had one good year and 3 lousy-to-mediocre years at UGA.

        Indeed. And that’s assuming you consider 4th or 5th in the SEC good, which is where Grantham’s best defense ranked statistically. And the film from that year only hurts, instead of helps, because of inconsistencies.
        ~~~

        • I think the above stat is correct, but I’m going by memory. I broke it down in a post here a few months ago, I think it was. And the average of the major categories was 4.5, IIRC. In the SEC.
          ~~~

      • He had half a good year with that 2012 D.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Meant to say I agree with you about 2012 Scorp – if that wasn’t evident in my comment.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        Yeah, I got that….the larger thing is how do you put a pitcher with yer name?

        All these guyz have little pictures, does that not make me less important?

        I want a towel.

  7. Rock and Roll Rebel

    If we line up and make plays against Clemson and USCe, then I will be a believer. Till then it’s just happy talk. If it shows up on game day then we’re talking about (potentially) a very special season.

  8. I Wanna Red Cup

    I watched the replay of the 2013 SC game last night. LAngley was burned so bad on almost every series its a wonder he didn’t have to be life flighted to Grady. He made one play on the second half when Shaw through a long slow out ball that Langley made a break on and almost got an INT. But the main thing I noticed was I did not see the hand and arm flapping among the DBs and the announcers did not comment on it. Did that start later in the year, when you would have thought they would be more comfortable in the D.
    And JHC, Trey and Floyd took terrible angles on outside runs that allowed huge gains when there should have been minimal gains. And of course the obligatory pass to a back in the flat where our LBs were not to be found. Hoping the emphasis on fundamentals will clean most of that up. Still, in the second half they only scored 1 TD and that was set up by a 75 yard run by Davis that should have been about a 10 yarder if proper angles had been used. So some progress was made. Hoping for better things this year. This dawg porn is addicting! Thanks for feeding the fix Senator. You bad.

  9. One of the criticisms of Grantham that I don’t see much here is the fact that he had SO many freshman and newbies starting last year. Why were we so green? Why couldn’t we recruit behind the previous class?

    If teaching green players was not Granthams strength, then he sure dug himself a hole last year.

    • Agree. He had plenty of opportunity to plan. And losing one or two guys at a position is just part of it. Another part of it is developing more guys, playing more guys, etc.. And so on.

      It was poor planning, without question, IMO.
      ~~~

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I don’t think it was an accident that CTG left. I guarantee that he was actively looking back-channel because he knew he had screwed the pooch in recruiting as well as coaching. His number was going to be up soon and he knew that. Got out when the getting was still good.

        • You may well be right. I’ve no idea what happened, just glad it did. But I do think Grantham knew the ship was sinking. He was one lucky Jose, IMO.

          And so, by association, were we.
          ~~~

    • Well, we did recruit. One of them is one of the most athletic players in the entire conference, he plays QB at the barn. An another is playing at Baylor. I’m still pissed at Marshall. Not due to any success he has at Auburn but the fact we needed him back there last year. Hell he could have been the guy to actually bat the pass down instead of having thrown it.