A couple of other quotes from Kirby’s presser yesterday deserve their own post, because, havoc.
On if they work on schematic or individual defensive plays…
“There’s definitely some schematic stuff. We have a base defense that we feel good about. Within that, we have pressures and we have a lot of things we didn’t use last year for whatever reason. We may not have thought they fit the opponent. We may not have thought the fit who we had on the back end to protect it. I think we’re going to be deeper and older and wiser on the back end, which allows for a little more complexity. Last year was s tough year. It was nothing to do with Coach (Mel) Tucker. It was tough. We had some young guys in the secondary, a lot of young guys. Where now, I feel like we have a group back there that is emerging with some personality. Divaad (Wilson) has grown a little confident. That bowl game worked wonders for him. He’s playing good. Mark Webb is where he understands things. J.R. Richard…there’s good competition at safety with Otis (Reese). We just have more competition, which I think allows us to create more havoc. Some of that is scheme where you go meet with five times that are in the top 20 creating tackles for loss and you say ‘How do you do it?’ You start learning that and you try to put some things in that they do. We’re trying to that, but to be honest with you, you’re running against a big ole wall of grown men up that, and that’s tough. That’s a good offensive line.”
I read that to say that the defense was limited last season by inexperience in the secondary, which, if you think about it, is a little strange to say given that Baker and Reed were starters at two spots. Indeed, you can make the argument that there’s as much inexperience coming into this season, as Reed is the only projected starter with more than one season under his belt. Which leads me to this observation about the defensive front:
We want some quickness and twitch. When we study all these ‘havoc rates,’ a lot of it is twitchy players…quick guys. It’s a catch 22 for us because if you have quick twitchy guys and you’re playing against our guys every day in practice, our offensive line, when you move and they move you, some times the displacement is huge because when you’ve got Salyer and Andrew (Thomas) and really good offensive linemen and you start moving sideways, they just whack you and move you. We’re not built to be an extremely violent quick, twitchy defense.
This is where I think the real issue lies. What every defensive coach wants, whether it’s out of a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, is a defense that can put real pressure on a quarterback with no more than a four-man rush. Georgia really didn’t provide much of that consistently in 2018.
Seth Emerson ($$) writes some of that is by design.
Some of it is scheme: Georgia often asks its edge rushers to essentially sacrifice stats (mainly sacks) for the greater good of the defense. Outside linebackers can be employed to “mush rush,” a term for keeping contain on the outside rather than making a mad dash for the quarterback and risk exposing the outside.
Significantly, it’s a design that works. For all of Kirby’s newfound interest in havoc, it’s worth repeating that Georgia’s defense was very, very good last season in not giving up big plays. I doubt Smart’s willing to sacrifice that in the name of havoc.
I suspect what this all really means is that Georgia is going to be more creative with personnel than with scheme. Kirby wasn’t talking up Smith and Johnson in that presser to make them (or us, for that matter) feel better about themselves. It will be interesting to watch the defensive brain trust’s juggling act in that regard.