Seth Emerson gets asked his opinion about Georgia’s defensive coordinator and summarizes as follows:
Grantham has had one so-so year (2010), one very good one (2011) and one down year (2012). To hear Grantham tell it, the problems last year had more to do with the early-season suspensions, which caused the defense to take time to gel. But I don’t quite buy that, considering it was a veteran defense that played well together the previous season. If the issue was that too many players were looking towards their pro careers, then part of that falls on Grantham’s motivational ability. Finally, there was a tendency last year to struggle in the first half of games, which goes to gameplanning.
It’s not an unfair assessment, as far as it goes. But I wonder if more nuance is called for. For one thing, to call a year in which Georgia went from 23rd nationally in scoring defense (20.6 ppg) to 18th and a point a game average lower down doesn’t seem accurate, except there were games like Kentucky and Tennessee where it’s hard to dispute that the label’s deserved.
I’m conflicted because the suspensions clearly had an impact on the unit’s cohesiveness in the first part of the season. The injuries to Jones – both Joneses actually – also had an effect. But it’s hard to blame those for what happened after five-game stretch leading up to the SECCG when the defense had its mojo working and only gave up a total of 43 points. Alabama ran the ball down that defense’s throat. (That two-point conversion still stuns me.) And Nebraska made Georgia’s defense looked disorganized during a stretch where it erased a 16-point deficit and took an early second half lead before the Dawg offense took control of the bowl game for good.
I do think that Jenkins and Geathers wore down over the course of the season, some of that no doubt being the result of having to play more after Abry Jones was lost for the year. But the question about that remaining for me was why Grantham (and Garner) weren’t able to develop more interior line depth they felt they could rely on after Jones was gone. And that, I would argue, continues to be a big question for this season, given what they’ve got to replace on the defensive line.
So where do things go from here? Emerson describes the positives:
… Grantham has shown a good ability to be organized (not as easy as it may sound) and his players listen to and trust him. He’s smart and in control, there’s no question about that. There’s kind of a mad scientist quality to his lineups and moving players around, and I mean that in a good way. You don’t go from genius one season to forgetting everything the next. The true measure of Grantham probably lies somewhere in between.