“He’ll be one of the 11.”

For my two cents, the most interesting story of the spring and summer isn’t about any of the players, like it was last year.

It’s about Todd Grantham and how he’s going to adapt to all the personnel changes on Georgia’s defense and to the offensive variety in the conference – or, more specifically, what steps he takes to design a defense that can handle smash mouth running games better than what we saw in the SECCG.

Last year was all about coping with the suspensions and the complacency that appeared to set in early in the year.  Assuming those aren’t problems now (I know, I know), this year’s job is more about being the defensive mad scientist who schemes to get the right guys in the right places at all times.  That’s Grantham’s mantra about getting the best eleven on the field at any given moment in a game.

There are already a couple of stories along those lines that we should keep close eyes on.  The first is the move of John Taylor to a 3-4 defensive end.  While he’s working there exclusively now, it sounds like it’s more about creating personnel options on the defensive line:

The 6-foot-4 Taylor said he’s in the 325-to-330-pound range. He’s working behind Garrison Smith. He said defensive coordinator Todd Grantham came to him before spring practices about wanting him to learn end. Grantham told reporters prior to spring practice that Taylor and John Atkins were “multiple guys” that could play end or nose.

“Coaches thought it was the best fit for me,” Taylor said of playing end. “We’ve got a lot of nose guards coming in. We’re going to need some people on the outside. Coach said he moved here so I can make some plays.”

That’s a big defensive end, peeps.  In fact, that’s a defensive end who outweighs the guys at the nose by 20-30 pounds.  But it’s also a clear indication that Grantham’s intent is to have some serious beef on the field in the post-Jenkins/Geathers era.  It’s just that size may be in different places than it has been.  (Along those lines, remember that if Jordan Jenkins and DeLoach are the outside linebackers, Georgia’s linebacking corps will be bigger than last year’s, too.)

The second story isn’t about getting bigger.  It’s about getting Josh Harvey-Clemons on the field as early and as often as possible.  Right  now, he’s a classic tweener, so that isn’t as easy a task as it sounds.  What to do if you believe the kid is too talented to stay off the field?  You create something that makes use of his skill set.

The dilemma with that has been Harvey-Clemons appears too rangy and raw for safety, and too small (about 215 pounds now) for linebacker. So you solve that problem by forcing him into the lineup and molding a position for him – a position that might match up well with the offense played by Georgia’s first two opponents.

Throw away for a moment the normal visions of a 3-4 defense (three defensive linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs.) When Harvey-Clemons is on the field, Grantham could instead utilize a 3-3-5 formation: three linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs. Harvey-Clemons will basically be a third safety on the field. Freshman Tray Matthews is very likely to be at free safety, and either Corey Moore or Connor Norman will most likely be the third safety.

The fortunate thing for Georgia, as Emerson smartly notes, is that this is a strategy that matches up neatly with the opponents on the early part of Georgia’s slate.

Clemson plays a spread offense and normally lines up at least three receivers. So Georgia figures to be playing a lot of nickel defense in that game anyway. South Carolina, the second-week opponent, will play three receivers a lot too. Not as much as Clemson, but the Gamecocks will also flex out their tight ends. And both the Tigers and Gamecocks have mobile quarterbacks, so it wouldn’t hurt to have a bigger, faster guy on defense who could spy on him, rather than a second edge-rushing linebacker.

Cornerback Damian Swann pointed out that two years ago Georgia had a package with Alec Ogletree as the nickel cornerback. The Bulldogs used that against Auburn, as well as some other isolated times.

“Josh is a guy who has the athleticism to play that nickel back. And he’s long,” Swann said.

I’ve got no idea how this plays out, of course, and neither does anybody else. But how personnel get sorted out on the defensive side of the ball between now and September bears watching.  What Grantham comes up with is likely to define Georgia’s 2013 season.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

20 responses to ““He’ll be one of the 11.”

  1. Irishdawg

    Love reading this kind of shit. Grantham seems like he can adapt his defenses, depending on personnel and opponents, which is something Martinez never could do.

    Do we even play a power run team before LSU? With Lattimore gone, is USC going to be able to run? Clemson’s a passing team. Hopefully, the run defense can find it’s footing before the Tigers come to town.

  2. HVL Dawg

    Josh, meet Tajh.

    Tajh, this is our man Josh. Now have fun.

  3. The other Doug

    Great post! Thanks for putting it together.

  4. Macallanlover

    I thought the most interesting comment from Smith’s interview was how Wilson’s approach was different from Garner. It seemed he was saying Wilson wants them to get across the line and make a play…very simple, where garner had them getting across the line and then making a read of what to do next. Not saying Wilson won’t act Step 2 and 3 later but it is possible to give athletes too many options which minimizes some of their athleticsm. This would be especially true at the front where the action comes the quickest and instincts may be the best way to go. Early disruption will ruin almost any offensive player, I just want them to bring it. Sitting back and reacting hasn’t caused us to be any less susceptible to fewer trick plays and reverses.

    • 69Dawg

      Do you mean that under Smith we can expect less Dancing and more football. I swear our Dline was some of the best dancers in CFB, problem was they let the Oline lead.

      • Macallanlover

        I hope so but I am not optimistic about that, unfortunately Richt isn’t as strict about the displays of emotion as I wish he would be. I put that more on CMR than Garner, and it carries over to other positions. I am glad we Mark on our sideline, wouldn’t trade him for anyone, but that is one area Little Nicky does things the way I wish we did…no showboating, act like you have been there before.

        • HVL Dawg

          I don’t think you understood the kind of dancing he was talking about. …..like when the ball is snapped and the D-line decides to do a slow dance with the O-line.

          • Macallanlover

            Sorry, I thought the opposite, it was the “ballet” he was referring to. Yeah, it would be nice to see some penetration from the DL but I am not sure that CTG’s scheme depnds on that. Seems like the guys with their are setting up the big plays by the LBs. I watched the NG at Utah, or Utah State (I think) tear the center up in ways we never tried to do with JJ or Kwame. After pass defense with too much cushion, my biggest dislike with our defense over the years has been the “look at me” individuals on the defensive side of the ball, especially the defendive backs. Not saying we haven’t had a couple of of hot dogs on offense but the defense seems to be more likely to be selfish over the past few years.

          • 69Dawg

            Thanks for getting it.

  5. I wanna Red Cup

    I am psyched about seeing the defense this year. I am predicting significant improvement. I think if CTG will let more guys play, the D line will be deeper and quicker. My concerns about the secondary but the best past defense is a strong rush and that is what I am counting on early in the season. This kool aid is fantastick

    • Cojones

      OK, but don’t start having bubble screen nightmares. Sounds as if we would be wide open to that if we crashed through and took aim at the QB. Little ole dinky-dunk pass over our D linemen’s heads with blockers out front to cut the remaining small guys down…….
      Oops!, hope the thought wasn’t inserted into your kool aid.

      Anyway, glad to see the Senator’s in agreement about watching that D performance closely and understanding how Grantham contends with the ground game as a change off to each of the first two teams. In fact, we all should get more out of the game and our intercourse here by watching closely.

  6. Scott

    I sure hope Beau Bock isn’t right about Todd Grantham. Check out these quotes from Beau about Grantham:

    “Then, there’s Todd Grantham, the make-believe defensive coordinator in training. He’s unqualified, inexperienced and he doesn’t know anything, so, he does everything. He took the most innately talented defense in the country and made them ordinary with his obtuse X’s and O’s…And, oh yeah, he was hired by the President, not the football coach! Todd Grantham, by the way, just ran off the most valuable member of the Georgia coaching staff….Do you believe that our so-called defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, told a defensive end recruit from Chamblee High, that ‘if he can keep a secret’ (secret…he said to the kid), then the word will be out that Chip Kelly is talking to me about being the Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator..! Can you imagine..? Do you believe the gall of this man..? The imagination and magnitude of this guy’s ability to self-promote is mind boggling… He went on to tell the kid that he’s been in the league before and it’s one of those, been there, done that kind o’ things…!

    Here’s a defensive coordinator impersonator, who, if not for him, Georgia’s playing Notre Dame for the National Championship. Alabama ran one play, pairs to left side, which went for 350 yards. One simple adjustment to take the play away, and Grantham is still scratching his head..Here’s a guy in charge of the most talented defense in the country, and they still don’t have an identity…Here’s a guy, so absurd and unqualified that defensive line coach & recruiter, Rodney Garner, couldn’t bear to work with the man and left for Auburn…Todd Grantham and Chip Kelly do have one thing in common. They both shunned traditional and respectful coach’s protocol in getting their jobs at Oregon and Georgia…I am totally flabbergasted that this guy, Todd Grantham, posing as Georgia’s D.C., has the unmitigated gall to even insinuate that he is interviewing for the defensive coordinator position with the New Orleans Saints..! But, this is how he operates…He’s always workin’ the edges…

    Years ago, Grantham and Sean Peyton, shared an office together as underlings, under Bill Parcells, on the staff of the Dallas Cowboys. Peyton went far, while the dense and untalented Grantham languished as a defensive line coach. So, this Saints interview is one of those deals where he calls his old buddy and says, ‘Hey Sean, how ‘bout giving me an interview’? Grantham fabricates accolades….Grantham, I’m sure, flew to New Orleans, and he met with his old buddy, Sean Peyton, but it was not for an interview. They may have discussed the weather, their kids, the price of tea in China, BUT, it was not about a football job… Peyton knows that Grantham can’t coach. The Cowboys were overjoyed to see him relinquish his defensive line coaching job to go to Georgia.

    His claim to fame is a line on his resume’ that says, ‘D.C., Cleveland Browns”. Fact of the matter is, he was CO-Defensive Coordinator, which is similar to his title of Assistant Head Coach at Georgia, meaning he sold the Browns a bill o’ goods, similar to how he got the job at UGA.”


    • Cojones

      His negative take on everything that Grantham has done leads me to believe that he is trying to insert doubt into Bulldog Nation. Screw him! We do our own research and pontificating about our coaches.

      All it takes to turn some pundits is the first word of doubt from ignorant lips (mine among them) and suddenly an ignorant meme gets created. Thanks, Bea, but we don’t need the gossip. We work with facts here (mixed with a whole lot of headiness) concerning our coaches. How did Bea opine during the neg Richt and Bobo fiasco? Did he speak up and defend them or did he carry the meme banner forward?

      Donald Sutherland expressed it best in Kelly’s Heroes : “Don’t gimme no negative vibes!” or something like that. Anyway, hopefully Bea can get the picture concerning gossip and how we appreciate it. Nada.

      • Scott

        haha, I hear you, but you got to admit that we all have nagging doubts…at least I do. Jury is still out for me.

        • Reasonable doubt is one thing. Bock thinks there isn’t a defense on the planet that Jerry Glanville couldn’t improve.

          • Scott

            But afterall, he is the DEAN…:) (how did I know you would bring up his mancrush on Glanville–kinda a similar to you and Leach, eh?)

            • david

              I don’t think Beau Bock said any of that. That’s far too eloquent for Beau Bock.

              • Scott

                It is on his blog… beaubock.com

                • Mayor of Dawgtown

                  Beau Bock? That bozo is still around? Isn’t he the guy who was talking about how shitty CVD was as a HC throughout the 1980 season all the way up to when the Dawgs won the National Championship? He’s got no credibility and never has. How can that clown even be employed in sports media? Or is he unemployed and just posting his blather on the net now?