Coach Wilson and the “play his behind off” factor

I read this and I’ve got one question:

Georgia largely stuck with a small rotation of veteran players along last season’s defensive line, but that practice created fatigue that Alabama obviously exploited in racking up 350 rushing yards against the Bulldogs in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs’ coaching staff has vowed to rotate more players up front this fall — and Drew and Bailey are among the seven or eight players that Wilson hopes will figure heavily into that rotation.

But they have to prove to their new position coach that they deserve the opportunity, as neither player has been more than a role player thus far in his college career.

“[Wilson] mentioned it to me one time before that he likes competition within the players because if he puts you in a position and you’re not getting it done, he bumps someone else in there,” Drew said. “He wants you to take enough initiative to say, ‘OK, I’ve got to get my stuff together and win my spot back.’ So we look at it as a competition between the two players, but it’s actually just a way to make each other better.”

Exactly how much control does the position coach have over on-the-field personnel decisions?  Ching is very careful to start that passage with “Georgia”, as opposed to Garner or Grantham, so I have no idea who deserves blame for last season’s player fatigue (an observation I agree with, by the way).

Obviously, I’d like to point the finger at Garner, since he’s the one who’s gone now, but is that fair?  And if it’s not, how confident should we be that Grantham’s learned from last year’s experience and this year’s input from Wilson?


Filed under Georgia Football

47 responses to “Coach Wilson and the “play his behind off” factor

  1. heyberto

    While Grantham may be the one making the call on game days, I don’t doubt that the position coach has input on who starts.. and if he thinks one is failing on the field, he can probably tell Grantham to change direction if he sees a pattern on the field he thinks needs tweaking. At least.. that’s how I would hope it would work. My point is that Wilson probably has the decision making power leading up to kickoff at least, with Grantham getting the final decision. It’s just not black and white one way or the other I would think.

  2. @gatriguy

    I can’t say it enough: Garner leaving is going to be addition by subtraction.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      We’ve had NFL quality linemen not playing up to potential while at Georgia since the Dog Days of Donnan.

      • gastr1

        Lots of defensive players, really. Is Jarvis Jones the first one we’d heard of who is as ready for the playbook & mindset of the NFL as the many of the offensive players (Green, Stafford, Boling, Ben Jones) have been? How many Geno Atkinses can we name for each Jarvis Jones?

  3. I have no idea how it’ll play out this year but I love Wilson’s approach. Also, I have no idea who had control of the defensive line rotation last year but it seems that Wilson does this year. Maybe Grantham is doing a little less micro managing(I hope)…or…maybe this is just for practice.

    At any rate, last year was obvious that we need to rotate the DL as much as possible. Of course, against teams like Clemson, we’re gonna need guys who can handle getting stuck on the field for long stretches. Tough assignment for game 1.

  4. Bobby

    The fatigue issue that sprang up last year tells me our coaches thought we were better off with tired Jenkins & Geathers than fresh 2nd teamers. Doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies for this year’s interior.

    • mdcgtp

      Once Abry went down and Garrison had replaced Washington as a starter, we had a 4 player rotation. the only other alternatives were Drew and Thornton. My guess is that thornton had been more or less written off by garner and Drew was viewed as a less experienced version of Washington.

      Of the 8 guys who will play, only 3 were really available a year ago. Smith, Drew and Thornton. Bailey was not healthy, Taylor redshirted, and Atkins, Mayes, Johnson were not on campus. I am not exactly sure why the performance of our DL in 2012 would color your perception of our 2013 performance seeing as its different personnel.

      • The other Doug

        The coaches could have burned a redshirt or put one of those three guys available in to the game when teams were pushing us around. But they didn’t. I’d say it’s definitely something to keep in mind while we drink the preseason koolaid.

        • mdcgtp

          again, there were two guys available (drew and thornton) and one who was being redshirted. To burn taylor’s redshirt, you had to believe that at that moment he gave you a better chance to win and was going to play enough to make it worthwhile forgoing an entire 5th season. Heck, I am not sure how much he will play in 2013. by all accounts, he has size and athleticism, but my guess is he is still a work in progress. the fact that the coaches did not see fit to burn his redshirt does not mean we have to assume all kool-aid is foul tasting. Taylor is ONE of 8 guys who are going to rotate.

          as for thornton, I have not at all bought the spring hype. i think he can be a useful player for us, but I would be shocked if he was not near the bottom of the rotation.

          Drew is another story. this is make or break for him in terms of having his career accelerate. He should have been red shirted in 2011 and 2012 was learning to play DT and grow into the position. my guess is he will be more of a pass rusher than run stuffer (which incidentally is always valuable from a DL), but again, I don’t think anything about Ray Drew’s 2012 PT makes me that cautious on 2013.

  5. mdcgtp

    as an outsider, I would guess that position coaches are largely responsible for the depth chart across their position group across all formations. So in the example in the article, if Grantham calls for a some type of pass rush D, Drew by virtue of being a pass rush/nickel DE would come in, and if we were in base defense, perhaps someone else enters the game in his slot. Obviously, they all watch film together of both practices and games, and I imagine there is some discussion about depth chart changes, with the amount of discussion being directly proportional to the magnitude of the change. so when a starting QB gets benched, my guess is its an OC/Head coach conversation, if its who plays nickel corner, the DB coach probably makes it on his own.

    As much as it seemed like Garner was a warn out cliche to me who was no longer fully effective in either of his roles as recruiting coordinator or DL coach, I can not necessarily blame him for the seeming lack of substitution. There were obvious times during the last two seasons where the outcome of games was no longer in question and curiously we had the first team defense in the game. There are many ways to view why. Perhaps Grantham is used to dealing with smaller personnel in the NFL and wants to give PT to his very best players. Perhaps, he did not have enough confidence in our backups in 2011-2012, which incidentally conflicts with LB depth we created from playing guys out of necessity due to injuries in early 2011. Heck, one could even argue that he did is selfishly to make our defensive stats look better. The bottom line is the single biggest observation I took away from the 2010 season was how bizarre our substitution patterns (or lack there of were).

    Perhaps heading into his 4th season, with really the 3rd class that he could have a really impact from a recruiting standpoint, he finally feels like we have enough players that have experience under his coaching staff and fit the profile of the system to be able to play more guys. I also think they saw the perils of NOT fostering competition in 2012.

    i have no idea how this will all shake out. I don’t think rotation in the secondary is usually a good thing. that said, I do expect a bit more down to down substitution in the front 7, and quite frankly, i hope that extends to guys as central to our success as Hererra and Jordan Jenkins.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Nice post. I can think of 2x last season when after the game, fans were concerned about starters staying in too long. Vandy and Auburn. At the end of the Vandy game CTG and Franklin got into a dingus measuring contest. We both know the why about the Auburn game.

  6. Gravidy

    I have a question for anyone here who may have been “in the arena” more than I was. During games, I thought the coordinator makes the calls for specific packages or plays while each position coach has the responsibility of getting the proper personnel in the game in time to run the play. Part of my assumption is that the position coach handles substitutions among his players – whether they be for injury, fatigue, or epic failure. And my assumption is true for offense and defense. Of course, the coordinator would have final say in any spur-of-the-moment changes, but otherwise, I assume the position coaches make the routine decisions on who plays where when.

    Am I wrong?

    • RocketDawg

      You are mostly correct in this assumption. Remember a few years ago when AJ was injured against Auburn and Isreal Troupe caught the only (I think) TD of his career on a long bomb? After the game Bobo said he didn’t even know who was in the game when he called the play.

      50+ players on each side of the ball would be too much for one coordinator to manage IMO, so the position coaches would have to manage the down to down substitutions. I am sure that in game planning they discuss how many snaps each player is going to play (approximately) but that is dependent on the flow and situation of the game.

    • And in line with this question, what about when the positional coach isn’t even on the field? Garner was in the booth for the last several years, so it’d be kind of hard to put the blame on him for who was going in or coming out on the field. Grantham is down there. I’m not sure if Lakatos or Olivadotti are. But I do wonder, if Garner is in the booth, is he relaying who he wants in or out through the headset? Or does he let Grantham, a grad assistant, or one of the guys on the field handle the rotations for him?

  7. cube

    The blame should lie with Garner, Grantham, and Richt.

    • Cojones

      Well, I’ll be damned. A negative comment that beckons for wholehearted (wholelogic?) agreement. Grantham gets the most responsible nod because the stats didn’t measure up to the “tired” meme that he kept tossing out at the end of last season. We had more problems in the second and third qtrs than any other times. The timing of subs didn’t jibe with the progress on the field, but did look confused many times that accounted for ground yards pounding through the lines.

      I’m willing to have a wait-and-see attitude, but the microscope ends up on Grantham. I hope that he and his D have a great season with new and more athletic players.

  8. Dawg in Austin

    The answer for Georgia is that the position coaches do the subbing during games. Recall past scenarios re which WRs were seeing the field and Ball taking the blame/credit, same for McLendon and the RBs, Garner with the DL. The coaches have talked in the past about discussing personnel with the coordinators during the week, but during the games they have authority to sub as they see fit.

    • Joe Schmoe

      I think this is accurate. No way Grantham / Bobo have time to call plays and identify the exact personnel to have in the game (with the exception of maybe one or two key guys such as the target receiver). I agree with some of the earlier posts that the I am sure the depth chart / rotation is agreed upon between the position coach and the coordinator during the week, but in game calls are mostly made by the position coach.

  9. 69Dawg

    CRG had his pets but he also had his doghouse and once in he closed the door. All of the great pro Dlineman that have come through UGA and not even been All-SEC let alone All-Americans and they had one thing in common RODNEY.

  10. Miguel

    Lots of theories, but here is another…

    Playing the rotation we did probably came from a combination of CYA, playing the best players and poor player development. Jenkins, Geathers, Jones and Washington were tried and true and clearly above the next group of players, so Garner bets the farm on them because no one “bumps” any of them out. When Jones goes down and Geathers and big John wear out in SECCG he doesn’t have the trust and or balls to rotate Drew, Thornton, etc because they haven’t been developed or come along the way the should have or they would have liked. If this is the case, then it’s hard to blame anyone else but CMR, CTG and CRG.

    I think it’s much easier for CCW to say we’re going to rotate all of these guys in, play ghe one who wants it most and make sure they dont wear out when you have more players that seem to be on the same level. If clear separation occurs, look for the talk to change.

  11. Rebar

    I think its pretty much on Garner; love the new attitude from the new coach and the increased emphasis on going hard every play, and I think that is going to speak well with our defense this year. GATA

  12. Let’s see what the substitution patterns are at Auburn…

  13. Todd

    It took Abry Jones getting hurt to bring in Garrison Smith. To me, it was an upgrade.

    • mdcgtp

      smith had already beaten out washington. Jones getting hurt put the Jenkins/Geathers combo in the game together.

  14. Joe

    Garner. He decided who played and who didn’t; he and Grantham were at odds over this. Remember he was an “Asst HC”. Losing him is addition by subtraction.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      But….but … what about “he was in the booth”. He was in the booth. He coached from the booth— no way he could see what the hell was going on from way up there…… am I right. You try and keep up with jerseys. The booth. It was the booth.

      • Because you understand things so well, I’ll explain it slowly for you. Being in the booth, you can’t physically turn to a player and say “You’re in, go get [player x] out”. Someone on the field has to actually do that. Garner may relay who he wants in or out through the headset. He may not, and let someone on the field he trusts handle those substitutions. Do you know which method the Georgia coaching staff uses?

      • It also assumes that Grantham, being the Garner’s boss and also on the field, could turn himself to a player on the sidelines and say “You go in for [player x]”. Seems pretty reasonable does it not?

  15. IveyLeaguer

    [“I’d like to point the finger at Garner, since he’s the one who’s gone now, but is that fair?”]

    It is absolutely fair, IMHO. Right now we have 8 guys fighting their tails off for their coach and their team. That would never happen under Garner.

    With Garner, there were basically two distinct groups .. one who was entitled (usually the starters), and another who was depressed, knowing they were in his doghouse and weren’t going to play very much, if at all.

    That might be an oversimplification, but the model is valid. Geno himself, was both in and out when he was here, and it showed in his production. I don’t think that would’ve been the case had he played for Wilson.

    • cube

      If that’s indeed the way it was, how about also blaming the guys Garner reported to for continuing to let that happen for years?

      • AthensHomerDawg

        Well alrighty. There was a whole lot of FUBAR on the heals of Goff,and Donnan. C’mon …. Garner was a supply train to talent …. but couldn’t develop it.
        How can you????……

        • cube

          Amazing. So in your mind, Richt and his DCs had to let Garner have total control over the depth chart/rotation/playing time and couldn’t even discuss it with him b/c they were afraid if they did, he would spit in their face and walk out the door?

      • IveyLeaguer

        It wasn’t all bad. Nevertheless, Garner’s guys seemed slow to develop, and some never really developed at all. Garner is very old school (which isn’t bad in itself) and his doghouse was legendary. Some say he played favorites. Whether he did or not, it seemed that way, and it often hurt his group and the team.

        For whatever reason, his style didn’t take well with too many of his kids. A number of DL who struggled to develop under Garner, and Geno Atkins is one of them, have flourished in the NFL.

        Richt has to let his assistants coach their way, and they all have a unique style. He can’t be telling them how to coach, especially an established coach like Garner. Sure, he can fire them, but that’s a drastic thing. Garner wasn’t that bad of a DL coach, in fact a lot of the things he did were good.

        As much as anything, I suspect Garner just became stale .. in both jobs. It was time for a change, and the change was good for us. And I suspect it’ll also be good for him. I hope so.

  16. W Cobb Dawg

    The questions didn’t end with the DL. I was scratching my head wondering why Herrera wasn’t used more at ILB in the secc. Arguably our best tackling ILB after Ogletree.

    • Spence

      There was an article about it. Herrera had to call defenses and Robinson and Gillard knew the defenses better. That put him in Grantham’s doghouse. Shawn Williams got pissed about it. I’m actually concerned about some of the on-field captaining if Herrera just doesn’t have that ability, despite all his talent.

  17. Keese

    Toby Johnson is already kicking butt. Can’t wait to see him punish other teams this year