Formations, schmormations

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.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

15 responses to “Formations, schmormations

  1. AthensHomerDawg

    “Wheel route”! Now I know what the Nerds felt like facing Hines Ward and that “tunnel screen” back to back!


    • Tswadog

      that was Corey Allen


      • AthensHomerDawg

        Oh I beg to differ sir…. the two completions in a row using the tunnel screen against the Nerds were caught by Ward. Corey never ran a tunnel screen. You’re referring to the last second heroics of Bailey (2catches), Edwards(1), Ward (pass interference)? Allen’s reception was a pass to the corner of the end zone. I was surprised they didn’t call the face mask penalty on the Techies.
        just sayin’


    • tswadog

      still think it was Corey…will check tonite…interference should have been called holding…check out the nerd fans on the back of the end zone after Hines’s first TD…


  2. simpl_matter

    When do we see the first wheel route this year? Spurrier will for sure, he’ll probably also have a variation on it to try and burn us when we over-protect against it.


    • Wouldn’t be surprised to see something like he ran in the opener against Miss St a few years ago…………I think it may have even been Spurrier’s first year at SC. I can’t remember if they ran it off a reverse, or just a lateral pass to the receiver on the left, but then the RB ran a wheel route to the right and they threw it back across the field to him and it was WIDE OPEN for a touchdown. If I remember right, that play was the difference in the game too, it was a low scoring affair. Would hate to see us get suckered on another wheel route play.


      • simpl_matter

        Nothing feels so bad as having your pants pulled down on a gimmick play. I think it pays dividends going forward, too. Once the D gets embarrassed, I think the tendency is to play tighter.

        Spurrier is feeling more confident than we’ve seen in awhile, that scares me. He loves the trick stuff as much as Miles does (he just doesn’t pull it when the game is on the line). Grantham better have them tuned-up with their thinking caps on.


  3. Cousin Eddie

    I kept expecting someone to have the opposition offenses take a knee on first and second down so they could have 3rd and long just so they would have a better chance to get a first down.
    My thought on the ~15th wheel route of the year what are these not ran in the NFL (dang, that sounds like Spurrier), have they never seen these before? If I had been a OC I would have just ran wheel routes all day. The only reason they didn’t work is when the player missed the ball.


  4. W Cobb Dawg

    Maybe I’m still early in the process of “learning the game of football”, but I’ve always felt the best defenses were the attack-type that sets the tempo on the field. I have little regard for the theory of ‘bend but don’t break’. I’ll add that a team that has superior talent, which usually applies to UGA, does best when they aggresively attack and set the tempo – on both sides of the ball.


    • Cojones

      Somehow, I’ve come to feel that this 3-4 IS an attack D. I’m sure we all have sugar plums’ views of angry Dawgs with their ears laid back, crumbling the opponents O-line and placing the QB on the ground with aplomb. However, our first game has a QB with a 30- something td completion with two interceptions. Most of his 71% completion ave comes at the expense of an overagressive D and he dinks it over the middle for enough game to keep moving down the field. That can account for a high completion percentage.

      If you think any D coach wouldn’t try to match that offense by varying the hell out of the D, you would be mistaken.

      Yeah, we have speed and you can’t visualize that he is going to throw the long one on us, but with that % completion and the # of tds, this kid’s going to get his licks in and it doesn’t matter the D philosophy. You may need a “bend, but don’t break D” at some point to prevent the launching of long-range missiles. Don’t convict the Coach before he tries to win games for us. I’m sure that was not your intention.
      The following is meant for all of us and not aimed at W Cobb Dawg:

      I hope that I don’t read anymore trivia about Doomsday coaching and insensitive and subhuman remarks about Martinez this year.
      These are our coaches that we sometimes tear at and setting them up ahead of time with all the various coaching “experts” that appear on here from time-to-time isn’t befitting of Bulldog fans. Nor does it lend anything to our enjoyment of the game.

      Analyzing is fine when you acknowledge that you are not an expert at the beginning. If you are, then what the hell are you doing wasting your time on a blog?

      I’ll repeat the old saw by my major prof (apologies to those that have read this before, but it does bear repeating): The word “expert” is composed of two words. 1.) an “X” is an unknown quantity in mathematics and 2.) a “spurt” is a drip under pressure. By placing them together we usually identify “experts”.


      • Keese

        Hawaii? Even though it was with Willie at the helm you can see what kind of havoc aggressive d’s can have with those types of teams. Probably Willie’s best game. He was not as much bend/break that game


  5. Mayor of Dawgtown

    I was among those who called for CMR to hire a DC from the NFL after the ’09 season. I did not know he would get one who was married to the 3-4, though. I still have a serious question in my mind as to whether that was the prudent thing to do under the circumstances. There undoubltedly was a learning curve last season. How many more games would UGA has won without that learning curve? Plus, we really didn’t have the right personnel for the 3-4 last year. The truth is last season was a rebuilding year in more ways than one. Personally I wish CMR had gotten a DC that was an expert in the 4-3 and kept our schemes intact. I suspect UGA would have won some of those close losses last season if that had happened. Will this decision work out over time? We’ll just have to wait and see.


    • Macallanlover

      +1 Like you, the jury is still out for me on the 3-4 for CFB. Can it succeed? Absolutely, but the transition period could prove to be hell for us. And I remain unconvinced it is a good defensive scheme against a power running attack at all but I do like the concept as it applies to blitzes and getting more speed to control the perimeter. I honestly didn’t see us utilize the disguised blitzes last year that I felt was one of the advantages of the 3-4. Willing to give CTG the benefit of the doubt but we showed more problems last year than just not having a hulk at NG.


  6. William

    I firmly believe that all defenses have a crucial point that make them tick. Willie’s needed an intense pass rush to cover for the smurfs he preferred in the secondary. Grantham’s has to have a NT that can command double teams to take heat off LBs. I think the 3-4 is fine, it just alters where the pressure comes from is all. With the 4-3 you know the big uglies in the middle are pushing forward, and the ends are trying to collapse the pocket. In the 3-4 the line is still doing the same thing essentially, but the line also is tasked with creating gaps forht e LB’s to jump through. I know the wheel route killed us all of last year, but so much of that seemed to be that we had LBs trying to act like corners. They have to be able to drop back yes, but you can’t ask a guy like Houston to cover some one half his size and ten times quicker. The D just didn’t recognize them, so the coverage was non-existant. I think these guys now know their roles and can just play by instinct. I guess we see.


  7. Jackson

    Simply put the 3-4 is designed to stop the passing attack…. the 4-3 is designed to stop the run, and then the pass. There are a couple of key points off of last years defense that really need to be pointed out… One that everyone is hitting on is the need to have the right personnel… of course a good NG is critical for run defense…. speed of the OLB personnel is given. Having said that, to beat on the 3rd down defense while true, does not encompass some of the other glaring holes that exist. I am a believer that a defense is better when they play less and therefore can really sprint. Our offense last year (or for many years) has not created sustainable drives that keep the D off the field. 3 and out is a killer for the defense. If you are looking for a barometer for next year, it will be whether or not we cut down on 3 and outs, control the clock and let the defense rest. This does not of course include turnovers which kill momentum and force the D back on the field. If we are able to sustain drives, I believe the D will have a monster year. If not, it could get gamey….