The fall and rise of Damian Swann?

Looking back on Swann’s 2013 season, I do agree that part of his problem stemmed from going from being the baby in the secondary surrounded by veteran talent to being the old man of the bunch.  (I also think he was more suited to playing the Star position than he was to corner, but that’s another story.)

But Chris Conley hits on another issue that affected his play last season.

“I think Swann’s going to benefit a lot from the coaching changes,” Conley said. “Swann’s a guy who pays attention to details and tries to do things the right way. And unfortunately in the past, there wasn’t a lot of detail given.  [Emphasis added.]

“And that’s the difference. That’s the huge difference with Coach Pruitt. Everything’s about detail, and everything’s about doing it the right way. So I think Swann will benefit immensely from those changes, and the defense in and of itself will benefit.”

I hope he’s right.  There are always players who benefit from a coaching change. And it sounds like the Grantham/Lakatos Fan Club lost another member.

Swann is a guy they need pretty badly to be a significant contributor.  And he’s definitely not playing Star this year.  The good thing is that Pruitt sounds like he believes he can make something out of Swann.

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38 Comments

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38 responses to “The fall and rise of Damian Swann?

  1. @Gatriguy

    The almost to a man trashing of Grantham makes me think the cultural rot on the defense last year was FAR worse than anyone truly realized. Which is way Richt’s decision to retain him before Petrino bailed him out is baffling to me.

    • I understand your point. What we don’t know is what Richt told Grantham behind the scenes and to what extent that may have encouraged TG to seek greener pastures.

      • adam

        Also noteworthy that Lakatos was gone almost immediately after the season. Even when we thought the rest of the staff was staying, he was done at UGA. Pruitt is going to be a big step up. Lakatos had more success with Boykin (who is a starting corner in the NFL now and a good one), Shawn Williams, Rambo, etc. because he didn’t have to teach them from the ground up. Clearly he couldn’t and Pruitt definitely can. The biggest improvement on our defensive staff, IMO, is at DB coach. Also read that Pruitt had like 3 GAs working with the DBs with him yesterday. He’s building our new defense back to front, which seems to be the more effective way (Bama, Florida, Michigan State all do the same).

    • … the cultural rot on the defense last year was FAR worse than anyone truly realized.

      It was. And it has been. It even precedes Grantham. I’ve been pointing it out, describing it in detail, since the 2008 funeral game.
      ~~~

      • 2005 Auburn and Sugar Bowl.

        • Exactly right, IMO.

          That’s when it first began to show on the field. I didn’t recognize it until the West Virginia game, and still wasn’t sure what it was. Because Richt couldn’t have harped any more on having respect and getting mentally prepared for West Virginia than he did. So it was puzzling.

          After 2006 Tennessee, I knew something was really wrong, and turned my focus to the defense. I suspected a cultural cancer. Then 2008 Alabama happened, and I was certain of the diagnosis.

          For whatever reason, when I heard the players had asked for a blackout on the flight home from Arizona State, and Richt had agreed, I knew we were in big trouble.

          So all it took for the cancer, that has caused us all so much pain and frustration, to mutate and then begin to spread, was one offseason and most of that season’s schedule with the defense under Martinez, culminating with the Sugar Bowl game. It went on from there.

          That we won the SEC Title, playing a great game against LSU, is the subtlety of irony. We were celebrating a SEC Title, and for the most part had no idea where we were really at as a program. The Sugar Bowl game made that a short-lived celebration, to be sure, but still most of us had no idea what was going on.

          Because we won that Title (and I won’t give it back) due to some luck, Richt’s offense, and the remains of what BVG had built on defense.
          ~~~

          • @Gatriguy

            I don’t know if I go that far back with it. The 05 Auburn and WVU games to me were simply bad run defense finally being exposed. Florida and Arkansas ran right between the tackles that year as well. If anything, the biggest takeaway that year was how much LB play was slipping due to BVGs departure. As for 2006: that team just simply had all the close games we won in 2002-2005 go the other way on them. It was bound to happen.
            The game that first really rattled to the point of “something is very different than it was” was 07 UT. That was the first time that I felt like a Richt team was completely unprepared, and that they gave up. All through the rest of that year, even when we were riding high, I could never shake the feeling from that game. It turned out to be the canary in the coalmine as we saw that same look A LOT over the years that followed.

            • If anything, the biggest takeaway that year was how much LB play was slipping due to BVGs departure.

              Bingo.

              Martinez made a huge tactical error in the bowl game by leaving Blue back in coverage, instead of providing additional run support.

            • Interesting. And I agree with you and Blutarsky about the LB play. But I also thought we weren’t mentally prepared to play WVU. We regrouped during halftime, best we could, and pretty much came out and beat them in the second half, just ran out of time.

              The game that first really rattled to the point of “something is very different than it was” was 07 UT. That was the first time that I felt like a Richt team was completely unprepared …

              Yeah, that was a eye-opener as well. The WVU got my attention – I knew, for some reason, we weren’t close to being mentally ready to play (unusual since the Bowl Game Richt’s first year) – but I wasn’t sure why, as Richt had been shouting from the housetops all month how we better be ready.

              Then the 2nd half defensive collapse in ’06 where, with a 10-pt. lead, we gave Tennessee 37 points. I knew something was bad wrong then, and started looking at the defense. But the ’07 UT game was further verification, and of course little things along the way. And like you, even the late surge that year didn’t relieve it.

              Now that it may be on its way out, and soon to become a thing of the past, it’s interesting to me how others perceived the cultural collapse back when it was happening.
              ~~~

              • @gatriguy

                I just think there’s been some revisionist history about that Sugar Bowl. We were caught flat footed and were surprised by their speed. But that was a VERY good WVU team. And we fought and got back in it. It’s not like we just gave up when we got down like at UT a few years later. That was a team that just didn’t want to fight once they got knocked down.

                • I just think there’s been some revisionist history about that Sugar Bowl.

                  Maybe so.

                  We were caught flat footed and were surprised by their speed. But that was a VERY good WVU team. And we fought and got back in it.

                  Exactly. We were poorly prepared, mentally and otherwise. And there was no reason for that, no excuse for it. And we had a whole month to prepare. As good as WVU was, it was obvious by the end of the game that we were the superior team.
                  ~~~

          • Spence

            You do know willie coached secondary under bvg right?

            • There’s a big difference in coaching a unit and being the head man, where the impact on the defense, and the team, is far, far greater. Willie was not coordinator material, but was a decent secondary coach, I thought. Of course, he had some great players to coach.
              ~~~

    • WF dawg

      If you’re right about the rot, it’s notable that (most of) the players kept giving good effort (most of the time). I don’t ever remember thinking we’d quit, which is quite something once a team has soured on a DC.

      • Not quit trying a al Willie, but I think maybe they had quit listening. It was obvious that they were playing the same way at Tech that they were at Clemson, so I don’t think whatever the coaches were saying to them was being received.

  2. Cojones

    I just hope that the first time we get outscored that we hold our fire and give changes a good chance to work. Always, keep the vitriol away from the players and temper remarks with advice on how to correct, i. e., the “tell” that was recognized on here when Murray was under center.

    Bluto, you are one lucky Dawg to have some of the participants on here with football knowledge and advice that is reasonable; not a bunch of wannabe coaches pointing fingers as I’ve seen in the distant past. Hell, Buck Belue doesn’t even try to unseat Bobo any more.

    How’s the operation recovery going? Take the pain pills BEFORE exercising. It lowers the octave of the screams.

  3. Joe

    Swann may have also been tagged with the responsibility of trying to keep Wiggins and Matthews lined up in the right spots. That probably was not very easy based on what the DB meeting rooms were like.

  4. Spike

    I watched the UGA-Auburn replay from last year last night. I know, I like to punish my self, but our biggest problem in that game, and other, is just poor tackling.

    • Gene Simmons

      I, too, watched the replay of “the game that almost was” and our tackling was abysmal. Oh, what might have been…

  5. I was hoping you wouldn’t miss this, and you nailed it exactly.

    After harping for so long on how terrible the coaching has been, it’s nice to see some of this coming out. All this shows up on film, how poorly coached the secondary, and the rest of the defense, was (and has been for years, just more striking last year).

    Certainly Lakatos was the worst, but Grantham was a very close second, if not equal, since he did a lot to make Lakatos’ job more difficult. Had Wilson not done such a good job with the DL, we may well have lost more than 5 games.

    Pruitt: “Damian’s very smart,” Pruitt said. “Football comes easy to him. He has a high IQ for football. Very instinctive, he’s got very good ball skills. Got good initial quickness, can change direction. So he’s got a chance to be a solid player.”

    I think we can expect Swann to have a very good year, and his future stock could be on the rise. One can only wonder where he might be right now had he been fortunate enough to have experienced the benefit of 3 years of solid coaching.
    ~~~

    • Cosmic Dawg

      I think it is very unfair to assume our old coaches had nothing to do with our terrific secondary from 2010 -2012, saying those guys were just ‘naturals’ is a little too convenient.

      Our coaching or culure may have regressed under CTG – I was never much of a fan – but you have also repeatedly said our secondary has been awful for a long time and not only is it factually incorrect, it does disservice to Rambo, Boykin, Smith, Cummings et al .

      • Cosmic Dawg

        Commings

      • You think the secondary, during those years, was “terrific”? Then we just disagree, Cosmic, because we see two different things. I don’t think it was me that said those guys were “naturals”, but there was some talent there, not great talent by any means, but enough that it made the unit appear better than it was.

        Without going too far into it, even the best year of that secondary was inconsistent, up and down, making good plays, but giving up easy TD’s with bonehead mistakes, etc.. I had a lot of respect for Boykin who was, by far, the most consistent DB.

        But our safeties were never consistent, and neither was the overall unit. To me, for any unit, that is subpar, and unacceptable. Rambo was exactly what we DID NOT, and do not, want at safety, IMO. I was so glad when he was gone. The secondary, as a unit, was never fundamentally sound, though Boykin was pretty good, and his senior year, Williams was solid, and Commings had his best year.

        A good comparison of what I mean is what Pruitt said this week, when asked if he agreed our LB corps was the best in the country. He said that they were a veteran unit who had played a lot of football, but that if you watch the film there was “some good, and some things that weren’t so good”. And that the biggest challenge they face right now is they need to “become consistent, so that their play is consistent throughout the entire game”. Which is a nice way of saying there were some good plays, and probably as many that sucked.

        And that’s really what I’m saying about the secondary of those years (and BTW it was the same in the years before them when Reshad Jones was the ‘captain’ of the secondary prior to Rambo). It’s pretty much the same thing, except when your secondary is inconsistent you have real problems, and you’re gonna give up way too many big plays, both for first downs and TD’s, which we did.

        And yeah, I think the natural talent covered up a lot of the fundamental problems. With less talent and experience last year, we see how those same problems escalated.

        So I just respectfully disagree.
        ~~~

        • Cosmic Dawg

          Ivey, how can a unit “appear better than it was”?

          That secondary gave up a few big plays, like they all do, but check out cfb stats on our passing D from 2010- 2012…believe it’s top 20 all three years.

          I left out Williams in my first post, too.

          Believe most of the guys from that group are in the NFL now, or at least had some interest. If that group doesn’t live up to your ideal, fine, but arguing that the secondary has been some kind of tire fire for years just doesn’t make sense to me.

          And they got into a little trouble but they mostly kept their noses clean as I recall. Pot brownies aside. :)

          • Ivey, how can a unit “appear better than it was”?

            Well, stats can do that. In the case of one of our secondaries, they even made Rambo appear like an All-American.

            And FWIW, it’s not really my ideal, which isn’t any different from any coach worth his salt (though I’m not a coach). Consistency is just a core thing that makes a player good, as a consistent secondary makes it a good secondary, and a consistent defense makes for a good defense.

            Hope that makes sense. It’s late, gotta got o bed. :)

        • Cosmic Dawg

          But listen – I get your point about consistency – I just don’t think you can arbitrarily assign all the bad stuff to.bad coaching and all the good stuff to ability.

  6. I Wanna Red Cup

    Swan seems like a good rep of UGA. I hope he is successful. Met his extended family at FU game last year. They are good people and I think he must be too. Wish him the best.

  7. UbiquitousGaAlum

    Makes you wonder if CMR asked CTG prior to his departure what he needed to change on his staff to be successful … His response was apparently Lakatos … Ours was CTG

  8. Grantham uncovered his own ass in public, on film, when he laid the blame squarely on the players shoulders for being confused. He said they just have to learn and execute better. That pissed me off royally since it was so obvious he didn’t really give a s**t about his players…just that they get with his program. The fact that he interviewed elsewhere at the end of every season he was with UGA was always indicative of his loyalties and future plans for our DGD’s.

    Pruitt may not be the next Erk…but he sure can’t be accused of not giving a damn. I’m happy for us, as fans, but I’m ecstatic about the changes for our team. They work so hard…they deserve the best.

  9. CannonDawg

    Perfect caption, Senator. When all is said and done, Damian Swann will be one of our anchors this coming year. As a performer on the field, as a senior leader, and as a kid who stuck it out and believed and got his just due. I’d bet my retirement on it.