“So who’s playing where?”

Okay, so the suspensions, both real and threatened, are of concern, especially given the caliber of Missouri’s passing attack.  But maybe the Georgia defense deserves a little benefit of the doubt.  It’s not like it’s the first rodeo.

Georgia’s top-five defense used 13 different starting lineups last season, never sending out the same starters in back-to-back games all season.

Grantham is having to move around the deck chairs again with starting cornerback Sanders Commings and projected starting outside linebacker Chase Vasser suspended the first two games and All-American safety Bacarri Rambo and playmaking inside linebacker Alec Ogletree expected to be suspended to start the season, which begins today against Buffalo.

“We’ve got a couple of guys missing, but at the same time we’re one team,” cornerback Branden Smith said when asked about defensive backs missing.  “Whoever’s out, the next guy’s got to step up.”

Georgia players can find comfort knowing that they rolled with the punches last season.

They point to the assortment of different lineups Georgia started on defense to think they can get through the loss of key players this time, too. The only games last year there were identical starting lineups were Games 9 and 11 against New Mexico State and Kentucky.

Some of you may remember this angst-ridden post of mine after the Tennessee debacle in 2009.  I fretted about a team undergoing a crisis of faith:  “the coaches lack faith in the players to execute and the players lack faith in the coaches’ ability to deploy them efficiently and effectively.”  Say what you will about this flaw or that affecting this year’s team, it’s fair to note Grantham’s taken this defense a long way from that bad place.

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UPDATE:  It looks like Grantham’s got another spot to account for.

41 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

41 responses to ““So who’s playing where?”

  1. JasonC

    I was reading on another site that even if ‘Tree is suspended it will probably only be 1 game. He got in trouble before, but that wasn’t a drug/alcohol related incident. If this alleged team rules violation is indeed regarding a substance, it would be his first (known) infraction, which only mandates 1 game. Certainly, we proved that we can get by without ‘Tree for one game against the likes of Buffalo with the ILBs we have.

    • The Lone Stranger

      Sure, Buffalo. But I’m not convinced the adaptation would be so smooth against Missouri. They are another short/quick passing team much like Boise State.

      • Cojones

        Herrera and Gilliard were not only good last year, they have improved. They can easily sub this year and we can count on them.

        Short/quick passes are hard for anyone to defend and will be the D area that appears softest this year besides the run stop. Teams have to be good in both categories to get away with it consistently, but any team that was as disciplined with that short-over-the-middle pass as Boise was will light up any D.

        • Jrod1229

          Franklin is not Kellen Moore. To live on the underneath game you have to have a quick accurate pass.. neither of those is a specialty of Franklin.

  2. Jim

    Am i the only one more than a little worried that our defense, while good, won’t be the all-world iron curtain we have convinced ourselves?

    • Jrod1229

      They’d have to take an obvious step back to be worse.. thats why everyone’s excited. It could happen certainly.. but our talent is, in theory, better than it was last year. That’s something to be excited about.

    • What fresh hell is this?

      You ain’t the Lone Ranger. While I believe our D to be very good, a glance at last years results is troubling.

      We played two good offenses to start the year, Boise St. and USCe, and gave up 35 and 45 respectively. We played two good offenses to end the year, LSU and Mich St., and gave up 42 and 33 (granted 3OT).

      We played no really good offenses anywhere in between those games, even allowing Vandy to put up 28.

      While some of these numbers were the result of an inept special teams unit and turnovers from the Offense, it’s still a little troubling.

      Hopefully the D has stayed hungry and not been reading too much of the hype. I can recall a recent O-line that was supposed to be the strength of our team.

      • Macallanlover

        There are some legit concerns about the D but the point totals you refer to are inflated by the turnover and ST scores in those games and the 3 OTs. If there is a question about last year it is the ability to close at the end when key stops were needed. The 2nd half performances against LSU and MSU were baffling. I always have concerns about our pass defense as we seem to give so much cushion, but that seems to be scheme and not talent. Depth is always the primary concern.

        • Cojones

          Count me in as agreeing with those above and below. We unfairly give the mantle of athletic gods to some players who, while excellent athletes, can’t perform individually to levels of some fans’s expectations. Their mistakes are unfairly overlooked when compared to other good, but lesser known, players.

          I think we all are uplifted this year by the intended synergy of play we hear from the Seniors. You bet! Let’s watch them all perform together as a team and then make pronouncements as to how good our D is.

          There are some fine and thoughtful fan posts on here today and I’m enjoying the heck out of reading all of you.

          • Macallanlover

            True, I think most of the posters on this blog are fairly grounded, a few on the two extremes of the spectrum, but generally realistic in their assessment. Going into the last pre-season day, and not having seen a single down with the R&B yet, I can see the top of 12-0, and a bottom of 8-4. My most likely case is 10-2, based on “normal” attrition levels due to injuries, and some surprise strength from a scheduled opponent. That makes me pleased with 10-2 and a trip to Atlanta, very happy with 11-1, and ecstatic with any record that results in an SEC title for 2012.

            Depending on whom those injuries occur to, and what games the players aren’t available for, we can all be happy or sad. Such is CFB these days, I am just thankful that we can be considered a legit contender in the best conference in America most years. Virtually all other fans have to hope for something to change in the future, or just be totally delusional, to have that position/status in CFB. Great to be a Dawg, I don’t want to trade places with anyone. Let the games begin…..here comes Russ (ty)!

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        As has been pointed out, we played four good teams last year…and lost to all four of them. I do understand the high expectations, I understand them, but I think they are slightly delusional.

        • Jim

          Glad i am not the only one that feels this way. Usually i get flamed for doing anything less than pouring more kool aid.

          • Scorpio Jones, III

            Man I hope we are both horribly wrong and this defense turns out to be the number one defense in the history of college football. I think you and I are both saying that we have not seen that defense yet. What we ARE seeing is the best defense we have seen in a long, long time and it is making some of us a tad delirious.

            But, as I have mentioned, I have seen a great Georgia defense…this one is coming on, but ain’t there yet.

            • fuelk2

              Look no further than last year’s red zone D – last in the SEC. There’s plenty of room for improvement on defense this year.

  3. dawgfan17

    The question should be can Missouri survive the injuries they have had to their OL against such a good front 7.

  4. Ginny

    In Todd we trust.

  5. RocketDawg

    I have complete faith in Grantham to put the pieces where they need to be in order to be successful. The point totals that were citied above don’t take into account the special teams blunders in the SC game and turnovers that led to short fields (ridiculously short fields!), in the Vandy game ST gave up a KO for a TD, and it took Mich St 3 OT’s to get 33 points. None of those situations are on the defense. Boisie St legitimately put up 35 on us but if you recall after Tree got hurt we had a walk on playing ILB and Rambo was suspended. This is the defense that held LSU without a 1st down in the first half of the SECCG. Bama didn’t even do that in the MNC game.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Criticising the D is truly nuts. CTG took the D from lousy to a #5 finish in 27 games. He’s easily the best assistant on the staff. He pumped new life into a program on the decline, which saved the jobs of all the other coaches. Many of our D players could be in the pros right now, but chose to return to play for CTG. The results speak for themselves. When the O or STs finish in the top 5, maybe, just maybe, people can start criticising the D.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Forgot to say I share your faith in CTG – in case that wasn’t evident.

  6. TG brings a huge intangable to the team…. a Junk Yard Dawg Attitude!
    Everything starts with it and is only enhanced by talent and scheming.
    Georgia’s defense has a JYD Attitude, some very good talent, and hopefully a good scheme. I’m happy, but then I admit I drink a little kool-aid now and then.

    • Cojones

      Agreed, but I still like to chip away at those who put him on a mistake-free pedestal which is team-divisive. You always seem to be on the side of the complete team and coaching staff (or at least I read it into your posts). This blog today is full of BirdDawgs, chirping happily at the thought of watching in play what we have followed in training all summer.

  7. Bevo

    M. Mitchell missing the opener against Buffulo with an ankle sprain.

    Right on cue…

    • Dog in Fla

      The ankle is good but a Malcolm in the Middle hamstring would have been a direct hit…

    • Minnesota Dawg

      Yeah, nice timing. Let’s hope it’s a very, very mild sprain.

      Looks like another season where we’re going to have to cross our fingers on every play to ward off injuries to at least a few indispensable players. Gates is certainly one, and for the first month or so, Mitchell may be another. I wish I could let it go, but I have a hard time really enjoying games like the one tomorrow–not much to gain and I fear the season-ending worst each time one of our guys (especially our OL) goes down awkwardly.

    • adam

      Fingers crossed for a mild sprain. A bad sprain can keep you out for a while. I got a bad sprain a while back and was on crutches for a week and couldnt do anything on a field for about 6 weeks. And then it was still painful. Of course, his ankles were likely taped and he was definitely wearing shoes. I had no support as I was barefoot playing frisbee and stepped in a hole running backwards. My ankle swelled up so big so fast that the doctors I saw were shocked I didn’t break it. Hopefully his was pretty mild and a brace and some aleve will do the trick.

      • NRBQ

        Hurt on the final walk-through?

        The prevailing theory over at AJC is that MM is fine, and UGA’s coaches are “hiding” him until Mizzou.

        • adam

          Interesting conspiracy theory, but I figure with 0 collegiate experience at CB he should probably get some time in a real game. Unless he was just that mind-blowingly good in practice…

          I’m not buying that theory, personally.

          • I agree with Adam they aren’t hiding him. I am hoping that it is mild and one of those he could play if we truly needed him but since it’s Buffalo we can afford to be extra cautious and hold him out to make sure he doesn’t aggravate the injury.

        • Bevo

          I stopped reading at “The prevailing theory over at AJC…”

  8. Slaw Dawg

    Boy, based on some of the comments here, we really are conditioned to worry, aren’t we? I guess past years of Vince and Larry, and recent years of disappointment, will do that. Heck, I’m usually as pre-season down in the mouth as anybody. Try as I might, though, I just cannot work up panic mode, not even over Mitchell’s injury. We’re going to be fine, folks. Our grounded starters will be back, worst case scenario, for UT, SC, UF and AU (barring injury or stupidity, knock on wood). We’ve got Jenkins, Geathers, Jones, Drew, Smith, et al right now. Folks, these guys are the real deal. I absolutely do believe our RBs are the real deal. And we know our QB is. This team has senior leadership and something to prove.

    Now, does all that mean a 12-0 season and a MNC? ‘Course not. We don’t have enough depth at O Line to sustain us through the whole schedule, and we’re going to have some rough moments, no doubt, with our young special teams. But 10-2 is, in my opinion, probable, 11-1 quite doable, and even 12-0 is realistic. Now let’s go see us some Dawg football!