Ben Dukes is pretty cheesed with those of us who have been critical of Georgia’s pass defense. Talking about what he saw in the LSU game, this is a pretty good summary of what he thinks we’re not getting right:
… So, in re-watching the game, and in breaking it down, there’s no way in hell I can agree with the dominant attitude out there that our team is not any good in pass defense. It’s simply not true.
Did we lose on some plays? We sure did. We have a couple of pass-rushing beasts in Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd. We have a solid Defensive Line. We have some very talented young DBs who are going to have to grow up, but who played very well over all in this game.
For the most part, what we saw in this game was an NFL OC, and NFL QB and two NFL wideouts who executed a gameplan against a very young secondary. I don’t think the majority of Georgia fans understand that. Cam Cameron was calling plays in the NFL last season. The plays he diagrams are very high-level plays. The guys starting in our defense are very young. Still, they played their assignments well for the most part. They gave up more points than we wanted to, yes. But, they definitely don’t “suck” as many fans and bloggers are attempting to put forth.
Mettenberger is a pro talent in his fifth year at LSU. He makes throws that 95% of college quarterbacks are not going to make. Those receivers make catches that 95% of receivers are not going to make…
Okay, that’s fine – as far as it goes. But if you look at LSU’s passing log, that same NFL talent and that same former NFL offensive coordinator weren’t nearly as effective against TCU and played at about the same level of performance against an Auburn defense that I don’t think anybody’s going to accuse of being elite.
And if you flip over to Georgia’s pass defensive game log, it’s pretty clear that LSU didn’t scald Georgia’s defense at a noticeably superior clip to any other passing attack the Dawgs have faced so far. (Opponents’ completion percentage, in particular, has been very consistent, as even North Texas completed more than 60% of its throws.)
To be honest, with regard to the players, I’m not really sure what the disagreement is over. You’d have to be blind not to notice how much talent there is on the defense or how there’s been steady improvement out of some of the players over the first third of the season. The problem is inconsistency and that’s due to how green much of the unit is. (Issues like this don’t help.) It’s something that will get fixed over time, but meanwhile the ride’s going to be bumpy.
Which brings us to Grantham. Of everything Ben wrote, I found his analysis of the 3rd-and-23 completion the most interesting:
This is the play. This is the one that has our genius fanbase screaming for the heads of our DBs. This is the play that people are saying defines Todd Grantham’s mediocrity. This is the play, more than any other, that I wish wouldn’t have happened, because it gives idiots some form of self-imposed legitimacy.
What happened? Well, we actually get a decent pass rush, forcing Metts to step up in the pocket. Unfortunately, no one is there to clean him up. From what I can tell, the offense is running 5 vertical routes. Everyone just go for the first down line, and Metts will throw to whomever he thinks is open. In this situation, he decides to throw it to Beckham, between Wilson and Floyd and in front of Mauger, who made the tackle. Floyd and Wilson were both in zone, and Beckham simply split it. Mauger was in a deep zone, and came up to make the tackle, just as is his assignment. He actually was giving our Corner help on the widest receiver who was headed up the sideline.
This play pissed our fanbase off because many of them wanted us to blitz. Of course, many of those same people were asking why we were blitzing earlier in the game when a blitz got beat for a big throw. So, you know, genius fans. Here’s the 17-beers and three quarters of a game-in logic: “It’s 3rd and 23! You have to trust that you won’t give up the big play. You have to put the pressure on and force the QB to throw a bad ball. That’s what you HAVE to do.” Of course, this exact same playcall worked 3-4 times against South Carolina. The fact is, you’re much more likely to give up a huge play on a blitz than you are on a deep drop. Did it suck to give up the first down? yes. Would our fanbase be even more rabid if we’d been hit for a bomb TD there? Yup. But, I’m not here to talk about what if’s. I’m telling you what happened. Moving on.
I don’t know that I was pissed off, but I sure was frustrated by the defensive call. I’m not an in the arena guy by any means, but it seems to me that in that kind of situation, it’s not so much that you want to force the quarterback to throw a bad ball, as it is that you want him to throw early. 23 yards is a lot of real estate to make up and that takes time for the receivers to run their routes. Why would you want to give “an NFL OC, and NFL QB and two NFL wideouts” time? Georgia got a fair amount of pressure on Mett throughout the game with a four-man rush when the run was a viable option. If you’re going to take something on faith in a pass-only situation, why not have faith that Jenkins, Floyd and the other two can make Mettenberger come to a decision early than he would have liked?
And the thing is, I give Grantham credit for changing his approach on LSU’s last series of the game. Hey, look, it’s a learning experience for him, too, as he’s still trying to figure out what his guys are capable of as a group.
The good thing is that, between the offense playing lights out and the softening of the schedule, there’s enough time to get the kinks worked out. If things settle in by Florida, nobody’s gonna care about the early jitters. Going into the season, we all knew it was going to be a race against time for the defense to click. It’s been managed well so far and it’s reasonable to expect that everyone will keep plugging away to get better. We’ll just have to wait and see how that goes.