Interesting tidbit from Paul Myerberg’s excellent Georgia preview:
Georgia is 18-3 since the start of the 2007 season when intercepting two or more passes, including a 3-0 mark in such games a year ago. In fact, this record improves to 18-1 when counting only regular-season games; two of these losses came in bowl play, to Michigan State in the 2012 Outback Bowl and UCF in the 2010 Liberty Bowl.
You know who I bet already knew that?
Todd Grantham is usually pretty tight-lipped with information about his players, schemes or basically almost everything. But when it comes to stats, especially good ones, Georgia’s defensive coordinator can rattle them off quickly.
Such as when the subject of forcing turnovers came up.
“I think since I’ve been here we’re probably winning 95 percent of our games since we’re plus-one or more (in turnover margin),” Grantham said. “And we’ve had what, 62 in the last two years. I think it’s critical you get turnovers.”
All of which may shed some light on Brendan Langley’s and Shaq Wiggins’ rapid climb up the depth chart.
So there are indications that Georgia may be strategizing around it by emphasizing turnovers a bit more – though of course Grantham will never come out and say that. But the fact freshman Brendan Langley vaulted to a first-team cornerback spot – over sophomore Sheldon Dawson – is a hint, along with fellow freshman Shaq Wiggins earning playing time. Langley and Wiggins have only been on campus a month, but in that time they’ve continually been credited with interceptions, whether it be in scrimmages or game-like situations in practices.
“You want guys that have ball skills,” receiver Malcolm Mitchell said. “Those two have it, and have been making picks every scrimmage. In my mind, they’re ready.”
“That (turnover) is definitely always a point of emphasis,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “But this year I feel like, and the defense feels like we have to cause as many turnovers as possible, so we need to get the offense on the field, rack up some more points, and just help the team out. Because I think whenever we’re plus-1 or plus-2 in turnovers in a game we end up winning the game.”
High risk, high reward. It sure seems like Grantham’s willing to risk a few rookie mistakes that may cost him at certain points in the game in return for the chance to break Clemson’s serve enough to come away with a win. If that’s the case, the Tigers are going to get some yardage. It remains to be seen how much of that yardage turns out to be meaningless.