“Red zone defense can be one of many things and, hoo, we’re we bad.”

Understatement, Mr. Smart.

“We tried to target that this year. We really emphasized going back to basics.”

Georgia ranked tied for 113th nationally last year in red zone defense, with opponents scoring 90.7 percent of trips from the 20-yard line and in, second worst in the SEC.

“The sad thing is I’ve been a part of defenses that called all the same defenses and were top five in the country,” Smart said.

From 2009-2013 with Smart as defensive coordinator, Alabama ranked second, fourth, first, fourth and fourth in red zone defense before slipping to 72nd in 2014 and 62nd in 2015.

Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was on staff for that last year in Tuscaloosa as defensive backs coach.

“It’s really more about executing what you call not necessarily changing what you call,” Smart said. “You might need to have a new twist in there or a new wrinkle.”

Georgia ranked third in the nation in red zone defense in 2015 and 29th in 2014 under coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

“That’s definitely been a focus this spring,” inside linebacker Natrez Patrick said. “When it’s down there, it’s basically mano a mano. Your playbook shortens. There’s only a few plays you can run. You’re not tricking nobody. You’ve just got to win.”

Easier said than done, apparently.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m glad there’s a big focus on this in the offseason.  Given the enormity of the drop off that occurred in one season from Pruitt to Tucker, it’s obviously necessary.  But I have this nagging feeling, no doubt a hangover from the Richt era, that they’ll work hard enough on this problem to make a major fix, only to let something else slide.  For once, can we have nice things with no strings attached?

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40 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

40 responses to ““Red zone defense can be one of many things and, hoo, we’re we bad.”

  1. Russ

    I like that Kirby recognizes the problem, but I worry he puts too much of the blame on the players. To me, it seemed pretty obvious that the scheme played a big part in it too. If Kirby can only win with 22 five stars on the field, it’s gonna be a while.

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    • Mayor

      Absolutely! Those same guys (basically) were #3 in the nation in ’15 under CMR and Pruitt so it isn’t the players like Kirby constantly implies. Whose fault is it then? I think we all know.

      Like

  2. Greg

    “The sad thing is I’ve been a part of defenses that called all the same defenses and were top five in the country,”

    Still remember last year when he said he did not have players being enough, strong enough and fast enough (or something to that effect). I certainly hope he is not alluding to that again, it alienates the players imo….I would think that most could win with Bama players. Pruitt did okay with what he had…get tired of hearing of what he doesn’t have (inferring). At some point it is coaching, getting the most of your players….the prior staff won 50 in the 5 years before with all of that inferior talent, I certainly hope Kirby and crew can do better…..find a way.

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    • The truth that no one wants to admit is that alabama is not “out play calling” people. They aren’t out thinking the other side. They win with superior talent. Everybody knows what alabama is going to do. They just can’t beat them because they can’t match up.

      The thing you do with less talent is to try and confuse the other team. CKS is not interested in playing as if our talent is inferior. The gambit is that we can be like alabama by recruiting like alabama. The only issue is will it work?

      If it does, it will be a thing of beauty. If we can’t get the talent in it will be a disaster. Btw: that this approach didn’t succeed last year doesn’t mean our talent necessarily sucks it means that their is an adjustment period. We’ve been playing a different brand of football. You can’t just snap your fingers and say: we’ll stop the run with 6 and play nickel and destroy qbs physically and mentally. You can’t just say- we’ll play zero coverage inside the five every down and win. It takes time. Hopefully about 20 months or so.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Will

    If I learned anything from this life, the answer to that question is a resounding “No.”

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  4. It’s not me, it’s you

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Macallanlover

    Kirby was a coordinator then and was benefiting from someone else’s motivation of said players. He has to step up and be “the man” now, red zone defense is more than just play calling/scheme, and a big part of that comes from the heart/gut of the defenders’ attitude about allowing someone into their end zone. Really had hoped he was past all this blaming it on the players.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ugafidelis

      I get what you’re saying but will respond with the six following words:

      Lorenzo Carter
      Davin Bellamy
      Dominick Sanders

      Like

  6. hooper

    Old coach fired for not winning enough with great talent. New coach says there is not much talent on the team he took over. Hope new coach wins big this year, or it’s going to get real ugly, real fast. If the new coach can’t turn that ugly around the season after that, then I would guess our new AD will get to name him a new coach, and then we can start all over again. Being as I ‘ve turned 70 this year, I hope this doesn’t take 20+ years to work out!!!! Having lived though that once, don’t think I can do it again!!!!!

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    • Mayor

      Here’s the problem Hooper and the Senator predicted it: B-M choked on the hire. I finally came to the realization that CMR was not a coach who could win us championships and he should go. Like the Senator and others on this blog I didn’t trust McIdiot and others in B-M to make the right hire. We needed a HC who was a proven winner as a HC at another school. Instead they hired a career assistant with no HC experience.If Kirby doesn’t work out (and I pray that he does) what has changed? We would still have McMoron and the group of leeches at B-M making the decision on yet another hire. I still have no confidence in them. We need to clean out the rat’s nest that is the current B-M starting with McAsshole and hire a first-rate AD–someone who has led a top flight Athletics Department at a major school with consistent success at all sports, particularly football. Then we need to trust that guy to clean out B-M and find the right HC for football and other sports (like baseball) that are suffereing right now. I have no confidence that the current AB or Morehead have the ability or motivation to do that.

      Like

  7. mg4life0331

    Well Pruitt did call plays against some pretty terrible offenses. But whatever, just make it work.

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  8. Its ok, our red zone offense wasnt all that special either.

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  9. Keese

    I’ve heard this bullshit before when William Martinez commandeered the defense

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  10. Chico Dawg

    “But I have this nagging feeling, no doubt a hangover from the Richt era, that they’ll work hard enough on this problem to make a major fix, only to let something else slide. For once, can we have nice things with no strings attached?”

    I think this is the one thing which has resonated over the last 25 years of being an adult and watching this program. UGA football has created a generation of malcontents- expecting that the other shoe will fall eventually. It’s the Eeyore syndrome. I am rabid with it. To me, this is the one thing Kirby has to change- give us a belief that we can have nice things. We can be great in the red zone and have a good fill in the blank.

    I’m not so sure hes the man to accomplish this. I am really hooping that he is.

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    • Mayor

      Intersesting observation Chico and FWIW I agree. However, you will recall as recently as 2012 CMR came within 5 yards of winning the SECCG and a likely win in the BCSNCG. BTW, I will never forgive CMR (who is supposed to be an offensive guru) for choking away that game at the end like he did. I think that game changed Georgia football going forward. If he had won that game CMR would still be UGA HC now and the quality of our recruits would have gone up substantially particularly in the OL. That game was Georgia’s turn to win the National Championship (at least play for it) and CMR blew it. The reason I feel like you said above is I simply got tired of watching the team play well enough to win and seeing CMR kick the win away at the end with stupid HC decisions. Look back at last season–Kirby did that, too. That is the biggest reason I feel negative about Kirby going forward. He is just not an upgrade over what we had before.

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      • dawgfandanno

        Had a decent lead, knew they had to stop the Bama run game but couldn’t. Getting man handled by the Bama OL is what lost them that game not the decision to not spike the ball at the end. Thanks Grantham!

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  11. Most Dawg fans do have the “Eeyore syndrome”(I’m stealing that) and believe it or not it does not have to be that way. While I have said many times the fan base does not remember how ordinary Dooley could be I will always give him credit for the fact that if we could find a way to be close at the end ,he and Erk could find a way to win. If Kirby can only win with overwhelming superior talent ,and can’t or won’t adjust to the talent he has on the roster ,than he will never last long enough to build up that level of talent. First , the fan base will turn on him if he does win THIS YEAR and than obviously he will not be able to recruit great talent to a school that is on the verge of firing its coach. If he can win this year(by that I mean the East ,at a minimum) than we keep getting decent players but if not scrap this experiment immediately. We need to quit hiring “Georgia Men”. It’s not allowed in the academic realm so why should we allow it in the athletic one. All our truly successful coaches come from other schools not from within (i.e. Mehre-Yale,Dooley-Auburn and Richt-Miami/FSU) Despite NotSo’s protestations to the contrary this is a talented Georgia squad and if he can’t win an anemic East with this group than he is not the man for this job.(and I told you so will spew forth endlessly……so all of the Kirbyphiles best understand this is the year) No more on the job training and being a Georgia man doesn’t count for shit unless you have found a way to lead other schools to championships. The dawgs need to get rid of their “energy vampires” and I’m beginning to think Kirby might be the worst one. . “The sad thing is I’ve been a part of defenses that called all the same defenses and were top five in the country,” Smart said.
    Has it crossed NotSo’s mind that he might have become predictable? Call the same defenses for 5 years and someone with a brain will figure you and your defenses out….I’m just sayin.

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  12. PTC DAWG

    CMR era is over….let’s give Kirby a chance….

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  13. Erin

    I remember watching games on television last year, whenever we would get in the red zone CKS would get the players together, yelling and trying to pump them up. More than once, the commentators worried about his over-coaching. Said defenses, especially, need to rely on instinct, and giving the players too much to think about isn’t good. Very far removed from being in the arena, just thought this was an interesting comment/observation.

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    • Greg

      Honestly, I do not see anything wrong with trying to “pump” the players up. What I see, is that you are probably undermining your defensive staff. Let them coach, that is what they are there for….I can’t remember seeing him do it with the offensive side, but I guess…he does not feel comfortable there.

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  14. 79DawgatWork

    There are two ways to motivate people – carrots and sticks. Many (most?) on here thought the old guy was too much carrot, and not enough stick (except when it came to player discipline, when you thought he was too much stick). Well, you got the more-stick guy you wanted, and Kirby is not disappointing you – he is being all-stick (except maybe for player discipline), including not missing any opportunity to dump on the players.
    Unfortunately, you have to find the right mix of carrot and stick, because if you are all-stick or all-carrot, eventually the people you are trying to motivate stop responding – they either become numb to the beatings, or satiated by their gluttony.
    Maybe someone can point Kirby in the direction of an econ or psychology or philosophy class….

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    • Greg

      Good post…..Know your business and be yourself, don’t be a “Little Napoleon” if you are not. People will soon see right thru that. Leaders are born and not made imo, it is innate….I hope we have a leader.

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  15. 69Dawg

    Kirby’s statement on the red zone only reinforces my doubts about his coaching ability. Pruitt, love or hate his personality, could coach rings around Kirby defensively. He took what we had and made them good to great, which I find is the definition of a great coach. Kirby has a scheme and unfortunately for UGA it is to have Alabama players 3 deep and just out man the other team. He is a good recruiter but that’s it. So in this case we have to hope that Kirby can recruit his way to winning football games and the SECC because he is not going to coach his way with marginal players. Remember the definition of crazy is to keep doing the same things over again and over again and expecting different results. He knew early in the season we were terrible in the red zone but at the end of the season we were still terrible in the red zone, on both sides of the ball. Either he is a hard headed SOB or he has no clue how to coach other than what he learned at Alabama.

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