Defense, a week in

Some really juicy stuff from Chip Towers’ piece about the defense a week into spring practice:

3. Some of the early beneficiaries from the defensive coaching change appear to be Langley, Johnson and Floyd.

  • Langley, a 6-1, 181-pound sophomore out of Marietta, started the first four games of last season as a true freshman but barely played and never started the rest of the way. He finished with just 12 tackles and 2 pass break-ups.
  • Likewise, due to a number of factors, Johnson played only a bit role last season after coming to Georgia as one of the top junior college prospects in the country. First, he was playing behind Garrison Smith. Secondly, he was coming off knee surgery and dealt with some other nagging injuries throughout the season. But he’s healthy and a svelte 305 pounds now and the new coaches love his athleticism.
  • The new staff feels Floyd was under-utilized last season. The 6-4, 220-pound sophomore started eight games and played in all 13 as a true freshman and his 6.5 sacks led the team. But Floyd was often got subbed out of games based on down-and-distance. The belief is he may the best overall defensive player on the team. [Emphasis added.]  Expect Floyd to stay on the field more under Pruitt’s watch.

Well, now.  I loved Floyd for his pass rushing skills, obviously.  And he got better as the year went along setting the edge against the option (before you go there, better is not the same thing as great).  But he looked lost in pass coverage, which is a big reason he was subbed out.  If he’s gotten a handle on that, look out.

This, too, is Dawg Porn of the first order interesting.

Much has been made about Pruitt’s intense demeanor on the practice field and he’s definitely very vocal in his coaching methods. But less has probably been made about why he’s that way. Not saying it’s better or worse, but former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and most of his assistants (line coach Chris Wilson was very vocal) were more cerebral in their practice approach. They’d have their call sheets and go over them repeatedly with their respective positions players. Pruitt is clearly more technique oriented. His emphasis appears to be more about executing fewer sets well than trying to perfect multiple sets. [Emphasis added.] It won’t be until well into the fall before we know how the Bulldogs respond and perform. But coach Mark Richt and defensive players already have remarked about communication is better and there is less confusion over calls, particularly when the offense is in hurry-up mode.

Hubba, hubba.

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27 Comments

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27 responses to “Defense, a week in

  1. Bulldawg165

    I really expect a big jump in our defensive performance if for no other reason than we return nearly everyone. A change at DC certainly helps things though because I’ve never been sold on Grantham and I feel like practically anyone with any credentials would be an upgrade. I’m taking a wait and see approach toward Pruitt though.

  2. William

    Even if all he does is improve everyones fundamentals, we will be better than last year. It sounds like he is trying his hardest to take the thinking out of the D and making sure they know how to attack correctly.

    • Even if all he does is improve everyones fundamentals, we will be better than last year.

      Certainly. But I’ll be disappointed if we’re not better than any of Grantham’s defenses.

      And, for that matter, better than perhaps all but one or two of Martinez’. His 2005 defense was pretty good, probably because it was a carryover from BVG’s 2004 D. And the 2007 D was pretty good until November, when it suddenly became great (due to a solid group of BVG’s seniors, IMO).

      Could this D be as good as those two? I think so. I think there’s a good chance of that, even though we don’t have the talent level yet that we want, should have, and perhaps at long last, will have.

      We’ll need most, if not all, of the talent we have in certain spots to pan out. We’ll need 3 safeties, 4 corners, 2 or 3 backup LB’s, and of course contributions from the good talent we have on the DL.

      But it could happen. Coaching and good preparation can take you a long way, if you have just adequate talent. And that’s what I think we have right now.

      So bottom line, if things go our way, this fall we could be enjoying the best defense we’ve seen since Brian VanGorder roamed the sidelines. Or pretty close to it. It’s early, but to date, I’ve seen nothing to indicate we’re not on that track.
      ~~~

      • Biggest reason for improvement of ’07 defense was defensive staff getting their collective heads out of their asses and inserting Rennie Curran into the starting lineup, a move that Jancek reportedly fought tooth and nail against.

        • That did help. But the seniors really put the pedal to the metal that last month.
          ~~~

          • If I remember correctly we were last or near last in sacks in the SEC until about mid season. Then we got going, Marcus especially and I think we ended up near the top. But yeah I seem to recall the Florida game and the announcers were gushing over Rennie and how he was coming on. He wasn’t dominate but you could tell as a true frosh he was going to be really good.

            • Will (the other one)

              That staff wasted a few seasons trying to figure out what to do with Howard and ’07 wound up the only year he really saw the field too, which was frustrating as hell.

            • ScoutDawg

              Dominate, I see what you did there…

            • Then we got going, Marcus especially and I think we ended up near the top.

              Don’t remember the stats. But I do remember at the end of the year, we were probably the best defense around.

              And like Will said, Martinez wasted several years in not getting Howard involved. He wasn’t a perfect fit for anything, but VanGorder recruited Marcus Howard for a reason.
              ~~~

              • Derek

                He was a really highly rated kid out of HS but was a little on the smallish side for a DE in a 4-3. You are usually looking for 6-4, 255 plus guy and he was under 6’3″ and under 250. He was probably a better fit as a OLB in a 3-4. I think it took him a long time to get strong enough to get to the point where he could then use his speed to beat LT’s in the SEC. He was a washout at the next level. My guess is that he wasn’t good enough in space either athletically or mentally to play LB and that the only thing he could really do is pin his ears back and go after the QB. With his size, it isn’t really surprising that his impact was brief.

                • Point well taken, I wouldn’t argue with any of that.

                  But I suspect BVG would have gotten much more out of him, if nothing else by using him situationally. And I seem to remember, starting about his 3rd (RSo) year, that he began to wow a lot of his teammates in practice. And IIRC, he was strong for his size, and was sort of a workout freak.

                  Too small for the pros, I know. And we’ll never know how BVG would have used him.
                  ~~~

                • AthensHomerDawg

                  Maybe he didn’t see the field early enough but during his senior year he started all 13 games and achieved First-Team All-SEC honors after recording 41 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. Tore Hawaii a new one. Had a Senior season that bought him a look from the pros. Not unlike what Sam Michael will get. Howard was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He was waived on September 5, 2009. Michael won’t get the door that soon. In spite of his performance. And not because he is a better D player. Howard played in the CFL in 2011. As far as size mehe. The Dallas Cowboys drafted Nguyen (5’11″/238) in the third round (85th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft. Nguyen made an impact with the Cowboys from the very beginning, leading the team in special-teams stops as a rookie and becoming Dallas’ starting middle linebacker in his second season. Yikes. Small guy …. packed a huge lick. Not everyone is a judge of talent. In spite of when they started intellectually observing the game. ;-)

        • Gatriguy

          Geno too. Rennie was a monster that year though.

  3. Hogbody Spradlin

    That piece may have hit on something. College boys need more fundamental technique instruction, and Grantham dealt with them like pros who are expected to already know it.

  4. Tom

    Hubba, hubba.
    Ditto

  5. Mayor of Dawgtown

    I will not drink that Kool-Aid; I will not drink that Kool-Aid; I will not drink that Kool-Aid;….WTF….. gimme the whole damn pitcher!! Glug…glug…glug…….

  6. Derek

    As one who has consistently held that jimmies and joes have more to do with outcomes than X’s and O’s, I’m interested in seeing the results of putting that theory to work. It seems to me that getting to the ball in a hurry and with a bad humor is more valuable than knowing the intricacies of the match up zone. Defense isn’t about thinking; its about destroying what’s in front of you.

    I think grantham knows more about defense than I could ever imagine but one has to remember that these are just stupid kids with limited time preparing to face 7 different types of offenses a year minimum. Recruit fast, strong, mean kids and set them loose.

    We will give up some big plays but hopefully we’ll create enough negative plays, turnovers, hesitation, fear and doubt to balance it out.

    • +1

      And Floyd definitely has the potential to be one of those guys you can line up all over the place, and has to be accounted for by the offense on every play…………if he’s developed properly (and if he has the drive).

    • It seems to me that getting to the ball in a hurry and with a bad humor is more valuable than knowing the intricacies of the match up zone. Defense isn’t about thinking; its about destroying what’s in front of you.

      I think so too, at the college level. And when you have a really good player in a good, efficient system who can think, they have a good chance to become great, as the lack of complexity and the resulting comfort level allows more and faster room for potential development.

      Not only that, but a simpler system gives the youngsters more of an opportunity to use their heads in the right way, resulting in a smarter team overall.

      That’s in addition to the things you mention. Good post.
      ~~~

      • Derek

        Thinking should be a welcome attribute, not a requirement to play. If you get it great, use it. But if a guy is dumb, but can run and hit with enthusiasm we don’t need to put up any artificial barriers keeping him from using his talents.

        • OK, but I don’t want to give the wrong impression to you or the fellows here on the board. I need to clarify what I said above, in agreeing with you.

          Even in a defense that’s not as complex, like the one Pruitt is installing, players still have to think. On just about every play, they have to make at least one or two decisions. In that sense, with some exceptions, there is a reaction time involved, since there are usually one or two things that have to be processed, before you can turn loose and go.

          So, at least what I’m talking about in players not having to think much, is having it simple enough that they can process one or two things, and still play fast and on time (react fast enough). So that those reads or decisions are made in a split second, and are processed really fast.

          For some players, that comes easy. For many others, it takes a while. There’s a few that will be slow. And then, everybody gets repped, until they get the hang of reading and processing their keys so that they can play fast. When they get good at it, it becomes somewhat, but not completely, second nature. And they can turn loose and really go.

          So, except for a few situations (for example, short-yardage downs where the interior 3 DL know they are just going to try get off the ball, and get under their guy and beat him), defenders have to think on most every play.

          We’ve had some guys who are pretty dumb, even recently. And I’d say, overall, they’ve been somewhat of a liability. But most of our guys we have now are capable of thinking. And I’d bet a nice dinner that one of the things Pruitt & Staff are doing, already, is teaching their guys how to think the right way.
          ~~~

  7. 202dawg

    Shut up and TAKE MY MONEY

  8. Macallanlover

    Methinks the high praise for Floyd might just inspire one Jordan Jenkins into returning to the potential we saw in his freshman year. If nothing else, the defense might get so focused on Floyd, as they did Jarvis, that Jenkins shakes free more often.

    • the high praise for Floyd might just inspire one Jordan Jenkins into returning to the potential we saw in his freshman year.

      If Jenkins isn’t inspired by the events of the last 60 days, then he isn’t going to make it as a player. But I doubt that’s a problem.

      My guess is he’ll play a different position from Floyd, and from what he’s been used to. Whatever, it’ll certainly be very nice to see Jenkins, if he develops.
      ~~~

  9. Cojones

    Wouldn’t it be a kicker for Pruitt to incorporate certain player futile handwaves as a disguise for specific D signals this year?