I have to admit I’m guilty of the mindset that Georgia’s containment quality on defense is largely a matter of how good the line play is, but Dayne Young and Brent Rollins suggest that with Kirby Smart, it’s much more a matter of overall defensive alignment.

Dayne: You’ve probably noticed that Kirby Smart tends to avoid giving firm answers when reporters ask about the defensive schemes. Part of that is because the Bulldogs play multiple defenses and ask defenders to be versatile. There is no quick and simple explanation of Georgia’s defensive tendencies because it all adjusts based on what the opposing offense is showing.

Old Base

Georgia clogs the interior on an inside run.

Georgia clogs the interior on an inside run.

Dayne: The problem with having five players prowl the line of scrimmage is that it allows for running plays to bounce outside, as defenders are clogged inside. Georgia is making a shift away from leaning so heavily on bigger outside linebackers/defensive ends, and relying on fast and tall defenders who can line up at a variety of spots.

Brent: This is the old school, base 3-4 defense: nose tackle occupying the center, two 275-plus pound defensive ends, two outside linebackers (Nolan Smith and Walter Grant on this play) along the line of scrimmage, and two inside linebackers (Monty Rice and Quay Walker here). The defense is then rounded out by the two corners and two safeties in the secondary, with Richard LeCounte being the eighth defender in the box on this play. Given the evolution of offenses, and particularly the rise of 11 personnel (remember? One RB, one TE, three WRs), it is rare to see the Bulldogs in their “base” 3-4. In fact, in 2019, only 12.5 percent of plays were played from this base 3-4 personnel.

New Base

The Bulldogs are fast enough to make up ground quickly.

The Bulldogs are fast enough to make up ground quickly.

Dayne: Georgia’s base has adjusted over the years to better cover every quadrant of the field. The star position has become vital to Georgia to increase the athleticism on the field.

Brent: While often not the true star of the defense, the Star position is a part of Georgia’s true base defense. Mark Webb above is the “star,” or fifth defensive/nickel cornerback. Especially on early downs, this gives rise to the typical alignment you see from a Bulldog defense. The 4-2-5 look with three true defensive linemen, mainly functioning as run stoppers and an edge defender, or “jack,” (Azeez Ojulari above) on the line of scrimmage. Then, two linebackers in the middle, one of which is typically bigger, and the force player against the run on the strong side (e.g., Monty Rice), and another on the weak side that is faster and better in coverage (e.g. Tae Crowder). The star then plays in the slot, two outside corners and the two safeties, one of whom typically plays on the wide side of the field (J.R. Reed) and the other typically on the short side of the field (LeCounte). Georgia had this 4-2-5 alignment on 62 percent of its defensive plays last season.

Based on that, the secondary’s role in containment is more significant than I credited before reading that.  (It also illustrates why Webb, who did struggle at times in pass coverage last season, was on the field so much at star.)  Definitely food for thought.



Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

3 responses to “Containment

  1. dawgman3000

    I think Webb improved in pass coverage a little bit by the end of the season. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Tyrique Stevenson is the starter at the star position this season.


  2. I agree that alignment is a big part of it. Everything is! This defense is a product of talent and coaching. The most impressive thing to me is that we tackle well and at all levels.