Some measured happy talk

As optimism goes, this is fairly guarded talk from Damian Swann about the 2014 defense:

So when asked Tuesday if he thinks Georgia fans will see an improved defense, cornerback Damian Swann replied “Eventually.”

“I wouldn’t say it’ll be one right out the gate, but we’re going to get better,” Swann said. “The athleticism is not a problem. The communication won’t be a problem. I think our biggest challenge is going to be the inexperience. But I think once those guys get settled in and really figure out college football – the lights, the cameras, the crowd – then I think all my guys will be fine.”

They were inexperienced in 2013, and look how that turned out.  You really do have to think, though, that if they can avoid last year’s weekly confuse-a-thon, there will be a learning curve that points upwards.  It will be the thing by which we probably should measure Pruitt and Grantham.

“The communication is a lot better,” Swann said. “Guys knowing what to do is a lot better. Noticing formations, noticing small things, it’s gotten a lot better due to the coaching and preparation. I think Coach Pruitt has put us in a great spot to at least be able to go out and compete Saturday.”

We’ll know soon enough.

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63 Comments

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63 responses to “Some measured happy talk

  1. Juan

    Really needed that this morning. Seems to be genuine honesty.

    Appreciate it, Swann. I was getting a little too overconfident on game week.

  2. sUGArdaddy

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…we can’t be worse and, by dumb luck, we have to be a little better. From sammy’s 70 yard td to nebraska’s 99 yd td, we were bad from beginning to end. I’m going with regression to the mean for my early reason to hope.

    • Russ

      +1000

      I have to believe that any competent coach can put 11 guys out there and improve on last year. The fact that we have Pruitt, who put quality products out his last two stops, just says we’ll be much better.

      • Irwin R Fletcher

        I’ve been thinking about this and I’m not sure that the yardage given up will improve, that there will not be breakdowns in coverage, that we don’t give up points through the air…but where they can improve and how UGA can have a great year despite an inexperienced group is turnovers. If playing press coverage and playing a true db at the star creates some picks, that might be all they need to win games.

  3. Spike

    Swann.. You are the one that needs to step up and play better this year…

  4. Those comments hammer home the fact UGA should be easing into the schedule for, I dunno, the 6th consecutive year. Playing Clemson and SoCar back-to-back sounds great in March. Then reality hits. I feel like I’ve had the same if-we-can-start-2-and-0-this-could-be-a-special-year thought for a while now. Yet we never do.

    • Mayor

      That’s why you schedule a patsy for the home opener and play Clemson later in the year.

    • Bulldawg165

      Why are we the only ones who seem to need a few games to reach full speed each year? Are we not Clemson and South Carolina’s first and second games of the season, too?

      • Fair question, 165. It has been a problem. That is undeniable. And it hasn’t been just the defense, it’s been the offense as much as anything. Mostly the OL. I’ve talked about it a lot, and Theus himself brought it up the other day, how the OL had such a bad opening night last year.

        So at least we are aware of it this year, and are trying to do something about it. We should be more fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball for this game. We spent most of our Camp time on it this year, offense too.

        And we’re in better shape than we have been in the past, especially on defense. That should help a lot. The OL says they’re in better shape. That’s great news. Not the kind of shape they should be in, IMO, but better than is previous years. I wish they were more like our DL in that regard, but that’s something that’ll have to wait ’til next year.

        But I’m hoping for the best. Because we need to turn that awful trend around. Now.
        ~~~

      • Dawgfan Will

        I felt like we were full speed from the get-go last year; unfortunately, Clemson was a bit fuller speed. Like someone said earlier this week, if Gurley had played the entire game, we win. Not that that would have meant anything once the injuries started piling up.

        • Can’t speak for 165, Will, but I thought of it in terms of everything clicking and being in sync. Being well-prepared, in that sense. THAT is what we haven’t been able to achieve in a competitive opener in so many years now.
          ~~~

  5. Cojones

    It sounds as if Swann is taking responsibility for some things last year and this year. Hoping this is an understatement such that good play will look like champeen laurels should be placed about them. I think we all should think of the first game like a shakedown cruise; we’ll see the good and the bad.

    By the way, Senator, I might be representin’ at Lot 29 Sat. He may have a Fing Scooters Rep badge… or a scooter.

  6. JRod1229

    We have a little less raw talent (say what you want but JHC and Trigga could make plays on pure athleticism) but I have to believe that we offset that with improved communication. I think it means we give up less big plays but I imagine we will give up 8-9 yard gains a lot. While I don’t expect it long term I do expect to see a sort of bend but don’t break philosophy early. Let Clemmy make the mistakes and see if their QB can pull it off.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      “..JHC and Trigga could make plays on pure athleticism”

      But they didn’t make plays. JHC and Trigga had raw talent and size, but were dwarfed in fundamentals byundersized DBs like Tra Battle and Tim Jennings. It always comes back to preparation and fundamentals. I think (and hope) those are CJP’s stongest attributes.

      • I agree. Not only that, our athleticism, whether at Star or SS is much better than JHC, and Davis is probably at least a push with Trigga. I suspect he’s more mobile.

        Plus, both Davis and Sanders can think. That in itself is a bonus. And Sanders is a playmaker, which JHC never was. Definitely an upgrade at those positions, IMHO.
        ~~~

    • Speaking of JHC’s raw athletic ability, I’m curious to see how good we will be at defending those quick WR screens this year. The ones where there’s usually 3 WR’s, the QB does a quick toss out to one of them, and the other two block. JHC was EXCELLENT at defending those, there just weren’t any WR’s that could block him in space. He’d shed the block and drop the receiver every time. That was the one thing our D seemed to do well last year.

  7. JCDAWG83

    I’m thinking we are looking at another 8-4 regular season, we’ll swap the losses to MO and Vandy for losses to SCu and UF, and go to another mediocre bowl game where we stand a good chance of losing to another Big “something” team. Of course, the fan base will be saying “if only” and “next year is the year” all Winter, Spring and Summer. We’ll also hear “we didn’t want to be there anyway” if we manage to lose the bowl game.

    I don’t understand how we manage to have some major group of the team with no experience every single season. I guess next season we’ll have a new line, new quarterback, new linebackers, etc. and that will be the excuse we don’t “win it all”.

    • JRod1229

      Who pissed in your cheerios this morning?

      • JCDAWG83

        I think it’s a coping mechanism. I was all in for a long time, until 2008 to be exact. Since then, I have come to set what seems like reasonable expectations to keep from having to deal with crushing disappointment. I try and look at the upcoming season with a more realistic eye than I used to.

        • In the words of Ben Franklin — ‘I’d rather be a pessimist because then I can only be pleasantly surprised.’

          • He also was quoted as saying, ” I feel sorry for people who don’t drink because when we they wake up that is the best they will feel all day.”

            Gotta love hangovers!

            • And … “If you lie down with dogs (NOT Dawgs incidentally) you wake up with fleas” I believe ole Benji was referring to the colonial British, but any conference rival can serve as a reference point. For whatever all that’s worth!

            • I saw that quote attributed to Frank Sinatra too. I have cocktail napkins with that printed on them. Was from writer Lawrence Roman, who wrote it for the motion picture “Under the Yum Yum Tree”. Jack Lemmon said it.

    • ATL Law Dawg

      You must be fun at parties.

    • What was it that somebody said the other day about folks being just like clockwork around these parts?

      • “I don’t understand how we manage to have some major group of the team with no experience every single season. I guess next season we’ll have a new line, new quarterback, new linebackers, etc. and that will be the excuse we don’t “win it all”.”

        JC83, that is the nature of Clemson too, and pretty much every team except for Dynasties that are few and far between. Lighten up a bit and enjoy the ride. Not sure if you have any kids, but its a similar analogy. You need to love them unconditionally although you realize they are not perfect and knowing that your gonna have to spank their ass every now in then to correct bad habits. If you’re constantly focusing on the negative its gonna be miserable relationship and possibly screw up your child along the way.

        Go Dawgs!

        • Mayor

          This is college football. Kids graduate, leave early for the NFL, flunk out, get suspended, get kicked off the team–depart for all kinds of reasons. EVERYBODY (including Bama and Auburn) has new people at some positions. I am of the opinion that our new DBs are an improvement over last season’s DBs. Personally I would rather have new, untested good athletes all on the same page rather than primadonnas who fight each other for a meaningless stat-padding interception and tip the ball to the other team causing the game to be lost.

      • Bulldawg165

        I hate to say it but he’s probably not that far off. Our average the past 10 years (2004-2013) has been about 3 losses in the regular season. 2.6 losses from 2004-2008 and 3.6 losses from 2009-2013.

        Believe it or not, I don’t have high expectations most years but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying the games as much as anyone else like a lot of you try to insinuate. I feel like that’s something that doesn’t get conveyed very easily. It’s a lot like Big Ones said below. You know your child is going to screw up a lot on the way, but you still love them and enjoy celebrating their big achievements.

        • JCDAWG83

          Thanks for at least understanding my point. I enjoy the games and pull for the Dawgs in every sport, every year. Because someone doesn’t gulp the kool aid and proclaim every year as “the year we win it all”, doesn’t make them negative, sometimes it makes them realistic and intelligent. Pointing out weaknesses is a matter of accepting fact, not being negative or not being a “true” fan.

        • Got it. Doesn’t make the continuous sentiment and need to interject this point of view into every single thread any less annoying than the posters that are blindly optimistic. Every thread devolves into the same tired arguments that will convince neither side to change their stance.

          Then again – I suppose what’s this internet thing for if not pointless arguing about things that matter little. :)

          • Bulldawg165

            “Got it. Doesn’t make the continuous sentiment and need to interject this point of view into every single thread any less annoying”

            Fair point. I’ve started to realize that most folks here just want the other folks to get them riled up and excited, so I’ve stopped being the devil’s advocate as much the past few months. That’s my favorite role to play, though, so if someone says something overly ridiculous or gangs up on someone who is only speaking logically then I just can’t help myself (not that you specifically were ganging up on him)

  8. AthensHomerDawg

    I still have Georgia by 10. I am a responsible Kool Aid drinker too. We beat ourselves last year. That’s not happening this year. Our group circulates a list with possible outcomes during the game. My score choice raised some eyebrows. I picked a RB to catch a pass and score on a long run too.
    Go Dawgs!

    • Macallanlover

      I think we cover the 7 points too but I am wading into these betting lines this week, no diving in for me. Most of the lines seem close to what I expected the games to be like. Steele and his computer have UGA and the Buckeyes as his “Best Bet” picks for the week. He says Dawgs by 13 (35-22), and Ohio by 20. With the lines this tight, I will probably go with a couple of three team teasers (SC even will definitely be one of the picks, I am tempted to lay the 10 but again, opening game uncertainties scare me.) UGA/Clemson is historically close so 10-17 point win seems too high but that is what I am feeling….maybe too much Kool Aide I know but have to go with my gut on this one.

    • Hope you’re right.

      We beat ourselves last year. That’s not happening this year.

      That’s perhaps the most important one thing I’m looking for. Not just this game, but for the whole season. If we don’t beat ourselves, it’ll be a good year.
      ~~~

  9. Macallanlover

    I think the moderate expectations for the secondary are fair, but don’t see it being as bad so that is a plus. You cannot have a discussion about the secondary though without discussing how solid this front 7 group will be, it will provide the defense with opportunities we haven’t had in a few years with turnovers and forced mistakes by the offense. The combination of great front 7 talent and a more aggressive scheme is where my optimism comes from. If I am wrong about that expectation, the improvement will be slight. Defense is still the vulnerable area of this year’s team, but look for much improved numbers on D.

    • JRod1229

      Maybe we won’t drop our rush ends into coverage to ‘confuse’ the offense.. that alone is worth a few points

    • Mac, your concept of a good Front 7 providing the secondary opportunities, and making their job much easier, is solid. The secondary, and safeties in particular, can still make individual mistakes that get us burned. But the overall outcome is still much better, as you have explained all summer.

      The combination of great front 7 talent and a more aggressive scheme is where my optimism comes from.

      The more aggressive scheme is definitely in. Thankfully. That much we can pocket. Add in being in shape, playing harder, some physicality, and good coaching, and it’s all the better.

      My problem is I’m not sure our Front 7 is “great”. I know we’ll be better than last year, especially at the two ILB spots. They won’t be hogtied anymore. And our DL & OLB’s should be better. So we’ll be a good Front 7, but I’m still not sure how good. I want to see what happens with the interior double teams and I want to see those ILB’s firing in to the gaps.

      Sure hope you’re right about them. Because everything is in place. It seems clear the coaches have put them in a position to succeed. And our secondary needs their help.
      ~~~

  10. Scorpio Jones, III

    I have no doubt Swann knows more than I do, but if there is no towel- flapping and less arm-waving we may not need the athleticism of the departed as much. When you are a step behind, athleticism helps.

    We don’t need Hudson to be the full Murray, maybe three-quarters Murray, with a full compliment of weapons of offense we might even be more productive on offense.

    Since Mason does not have to roll to see as much as Murray did, I think, maybe there will be less pressure on the offensive line to be intuitive and more to just knock the shit out of people.

    And, I think I got a good hat.

    Next bulletin Saturday night.

    • Good hat is important.

    • [re: the continuing Hat saga] here in the far flung hills of Pa. I snagged a second-hand Dawgs’ beauty early this Summer. Notwithstanding why any self respecting fool would turn over his lid to a resale outfit, I am trotting it out for Saturday to test its results. Judging by the name scrawled under the brim, there used to be a callow young squirt inside the hat. I’ll attempt to restore some glory to the headgear now.

      • I would enjoy a website where people can post their dawg hat for the season. Maybe put it on facebook with the hashtag “Dawghat” ?

        Anyone else up to do this?

  11. 69Dawg

    Can’t help but remember CJP’s comment when he first came in about great athletes and being fast. As I recall he said “If you are fast but out of position you are in the wrong place much faster. Something to that effect. His point was that average athletes that know what and where they are suppose to be are better than fast athletes that have no clue about where to be.

  12. Two things I’d like to see this year from the D:

    1. Steady improvement throughout the season. In other words, not make the exact same friggin’ mistakes in Game 10 that were made in Game 1. To Grantham’s credit, the guys never stopped playing hard last year, but it was like nobody learned anything as they went along.

    2. At least once, if the offense turns the ball over on our own end of the field, have the defense come out and hold the opponent to a field goal attempt instead of giving up an automatic touchdown. I’m not sure our defense ever knew that was an option under Grantham, even prior to last year. Seeing this alone may be enough to bring tears of joy to my eyes!

  13. I Wanna Red Cup

    The only thing that worries me about the Clemmons game is our OL against their DL. We may have trouble moving the ball. I am optimistic about our ST and the D as a whole. I foresee less mistakes out our DBs and more turnovers. I think we win this in a lower scoring game than last year. I look for improvment in the D as we go along. At least we have a week off before the Cocks as that will be the biggest game of the year…..Still wish it was later in the year after our DBs get some mistakes behind them.

  14. Will Trane

    Inexperience? Like at QB. 2 starts. How the defense goes Saturday in my view will depend on how the QB and the O-line play. Past few days the blogs and the press laments the loss of the deep threat ball due injuries and suspensions.
    At UGA you have to accept the fact every year injuries, suspensions, inexperience, and players who transfered to Auburn. Think in some ways their is more inexperience on the offense side than the defense side. Mason and company will have some snaps, but how productive will they be re distance, downs, field position, and points. Mason’s play is my concern. Hopefully the line and back rotation will be consistent thru out the game. And in the second half, in August, it is the Dawgs advantage. But Mason is not Murray, a three starter. Murray saw, played with, and dealt with a lot of D schemes and personnel during his snaps.
    But I plan to have fun watching this game. Think the changes in coaches, schemes, and players will make it that way. Excited to see how Mason and the rest play. It is their turn and their season.

    • Past few days the blogs and the press laments the loss of the deep threat ball due injuries and suspensions.

      Quite true. They have. But it’s been quite obvious, for at least 3 weeks, that Mitchell and JSW weren’t going to play in this game. And it seems pretty obvious they won’t play vs. SC, either.

      So it’s not a surprise, and certainly not to the coaches. They knew all along what we’d have for this game, and they’ve had plenty of time to prepare likewise.

      You’re right that Mason is the key, for both these games, and how he goes the team will probably go. But FWIW, I have confidence in Mason. I’m so glad we have him this year.
      ~~~

  15. Will Trane

    Sorry. Mason does have some experience. Second go against an ACC team. But then none against the SEC and SEC defenses.
    But we will see late Saturday afternoon if Pruitt and staff is building a feared SEC defense. At least he has seen Clemson before along with some of the D players. Some at Clemson feel their offense is even or better than our D. But they have concerns re their O-line and new QB. So can they push the deep threat because Pruitt will not tolerate those plays by a secondary very long.