I’ve got a more specific post on the defense coming up, but in the meantime, here’s some wisdom from Brophy for you to ponder:
… One of the biggest mistakes for those learning the game of football is to fixate on the minutiae of various “brands” of defense. Tying oneself to the dogmatic thinking and going-through-the-motions of “how we’ve always done it” without understanding the rationale of how it all works creates an intelligence rut that becomes a liability. Defenses exist to defense an offense – they do not exist within vacuums. On every play you’re defending something the offense is doing to advance the ball. For this reason, defenses aren’t static entities – they must respond (adapt) to the stimuli they are presented with. You will hear people declare, “we are a 3-4 Quarters defense” or something to that effect. That’s great, but there is a reason a defensive concept is employed on a given down, and there is no catch-all defense available.
A defense really just needs to be concerned about offensive numbers (and how to match them) and the offensive capabilities from their alignment.
Remember, Mark Richt didn’t hire Todd Grantham because he woke up one day and said, “dayum, I want to run a 3-4 scheme on defense.” Grantham became the defensive coordinator because he convinced Richt that he knew how to construct a defense which could stop offenses; it just happens that the vehicle Grantham relies upon for that is a base 3-4. (Emphasis on the word “base”: Georgia played out of its base 3-4 less than half the time last season.)
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a transitional cost in the hire. Personnel needs between the 3-4 and the 4-3 differ and any time you change the base scheme your defense lines up in, there’s going to be a period of uncertainty that good offenses are going to exploit until you show that you’ve got things figured out (***cough***wheel route***cough***).
But it still boils down to recognizing what the opponent’s offense is showing you on any given play and coming up with a specific, successful response to shut it down. That may not sound like rocket science, but given Georgia’s difficulties handling third-and-long last season, it’s not the easiest thing in the world, either. Here’s hoping Georgia’s defenders prove more consistent on that front in Grantham’s second year.