Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The 3-4

So, I've been getting some questions regarding this "new" Defense that Grantham's gonna be bringin' with him to Athens. More exactly, I've been reading emails that look a little something like this:

"Jest what in tarnation is a 3-4 defense, Dukes? Help a brotha out!"

Alright, I'll do my best. Now, while I understand the BASICS of the 3-4 defense, I don't know EXACTLY what Grantham will do with it. During my time in football, I worked out of a 4-lineman base pretty exclusively. Though, I did run some scout 3-4, so I've done a little bit of it. Cherry-picking tidbits from what Grantham has said, I can give you MY IDEA of what he's gonna be doing. I'd love to be in Sanford this spring to get a look at it on G-Day. If I can arrange it, I will.

Now, all of that being said, let me explain (a bit more than I did previously) how Grantham's "1-gap" 3-4 may work.

In a traditional 3-4 defense, your three down linemen (1NT, 2DT) are all VERY big. We're talking 300+ on the outside, and around 350 or more for the Nose. Each of these players has a two-gap responsibility. What this means, is that the DL has to attack the blocker in front of him and read to each side of the blocker, looking for the runningback. That DL has to make the first hit on any back coming through, preferably stopping him dead in his tracks. For the NT, he has the "A" gap on either side of the Center. The DTs will have the "B" and "C" gaps between the guard and tackle, and outside the tackle respectively. The linebackers are then free to go make plays. The OLBs are basically on a rush-or-drop assignment (either a pre-play call, or a read) and the inside backers are read-all-the-way. This is your BASE defense with no blitz.

Now, I don't think this is quite what Grantham has in mind. When he uses the term "1-gap responsibility", I believe what he's telling us is that his tackles are indeed not going to be hitting a lineman and then reading for the back. What it seems to me, is that each DLman will be attacking a specific gap, with linebackers filling the holes. For this, I believe he'll be using more ahtletic DEs instead of bigger DTs on the outside.

"Dukes, what are you sayin? How does it work???"

Ok, let's break it down: If the Nose takes the "A" on the right side, one of the ILBs will be taking the "A" on the left.

Now, it all gets a bit complicated. There are many options after that. Both the DEs could crash in on the "B" gaps, with the OLBs keeping containment on the outside, and the remaining ILB will be free to read and attack the ball.


The DEs can fan out and contain on the "C" gap (outside the offensive tackle) and the OLBS could crash inside on the "B" gaps. This is unlikely to happen on first or second downs...big running downs. Generally, you're gonna want your meat inside and your speed outside on running downs. BUT, on a 3rd down pass, you could easily see the OLBs and the DEs playing a "switch" in order to confuse the blocking scheme.


The defense could be run in a SLANT. What this means, is when the NT takes the rightside "A" gap, both DEs take the gap to their right, the ILBs fit into the backside "A" and frontside "B" gaps, and the OLBs read and react.


Any combination of these is what we're likely to see on a down-to-down basis. What we're NOT likely to see is a primarily read-and-react defense with huge open zones and little pressure on the quarterback (read - UGA's defense for the past few seasons).

"BUT DUKES! There's only three down-linemen. How does that equal greater pressure on the quarterback??"

Well, there are only three down linemen. But, with four linebackers, you now have six legitimate speed-rushers instead of the five that you get with the 4-3. Also, unlike in the 4-3, the linebackers are in fairly consistent position. What I mean by this is, in the 4-3, you often walk the SAM backer up to the line, and play him outside the tight-end. So, your formation is "heavy" to the strong side. Blockers then can adjust pre-snap to the formation. But, in the 3-4, you fairly constantly have both of your OLBs up on the line. It's hard for the OL and QB to know which (if either) of them will be rushing on a particular play. They have to make a read and react to it post-snap.

This gives you a better opportunity to disguise your defense. The extra speed and athleticism gained by the fourth linebacker adds to this as well. Pre-snap, a quarterback may be reading a man-type press coverage, but on the snap, an OLB who appears to be in coverage may indeed blitz, with support of a safety moving up into coverage. OR, the Backer may show blitz, then bail into coverage, with a safety or a different backer actually bringing the pressure.

There is a great deal of deception available in a 3-4 defense, more so than in the 4-3, simply from personnel and alignment standpoints.


Those who watched the 'Bama defense would note that they often played in the DIME defense, swapping out two of their backers for defensive backs, due to facing many spread-type offenses. This brings additional speed and athleticism to the scheme. Grantham has already stated that we'll be ready to play in the Nickel, from either a 4-man or 3-man front.

From a 4-man front, that looks like a 4-2-5 (five DBs) and from a 3-man front, it's a 3-3-5. Either way, I believe we have 3 linebackers in the game in Nickel. If we're running a base 3-4, and we have to go to a 3-3-5, we simply make one substitution - a DB for an LB. If we want to go to the 4-2-5, I don't think we necessarily make another substitution. I think we move our biggest and best pass-rushing LB down as an edge-rusher.

In the Dime, we would customarily drop another LB and bring in the 6th DB. But, I don't know if that's the case. From an attacker's standpoint, I have to think...if we have 6 DBs in the game, they probably have 5 wideouts. If they have 5 wideouts, it's doubtful they're going to be doing any power running. The Dime I foresee is one without the NT. Instead, you have 2 DEs and 3LBs in the game. This gives you multiple sets. You can run a 4-1-6 or a 3-2-6 without having to run anyone out of the game, and without sacrificing speed in the pass rush. For even more fun, maybe you run a 2-3-6 Dime or a 2-4-5 nickel. This way, you have DEs covering the Guards, and many linebackers roaming around, confusing blockers pre-snap and then attacking.

"Dukes, this all sounds great, but will it actually work??"

Hahaha. I have no idea! On paper, it looks great. In practice, it has worked, it has failed. What it all boils down to, is how the players perform with the X's and O's given them by the coaches. I don't think motivation is going to be a huge problem. I don't think talent is going to be a problem. Let's face much as I love the assessment of which 4 and 5 stars we've stolen from other states, or that they've stolen from us, at the end of the day UGA always has solid talent. People have shown that our drafts stats have been down recently...and yet we have a number of guys who've been signed as undrafted free agents. This tells me they have NFL talent, but they didn't put up NFL performance in college. That leans on the coaching. Those coaches have been rewarded for their lackluster production with firings. Huzzah!

So, if we have the talent, and we have the motivation, I'd say we should be successful. At this point, though, it's all conjecture. Still, I'm very excited to see how it all plays out.

Go Dawgs!


Listen to Todd Grantham's Interview with 680 The Fan here and you'll get it straight from the horse's mouth! Sounds very similar to what I wrote above. There are few things in this life that are on par with being right. Yeah, Come On!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A note on Grantham

Folks who tuned in to watch the Cowboys defeat at the hands of the Vikings today, may not have been awfully excited by Dallas' 34 points surrendered. This is especially true of UGA fans who were tuning in to get an idea of what UGA's defense might look like under Grantham. However, you have to realize that Grantham isn't in charge of Dallas's defense. He's in charge of the defensive line. That defensive line held Adrian Peterson to 63 yards on 26 carries. The 'Boys defense also sacked Brett Favre 3 times. Only one of those came from the DL, with the other two coming from Linebackers. The big breakdowns for the Cowboys today came in the secondary, where the coverage was good...but the quarterback and receivers against them were just flat out better.

Now...what does this mean for UGA? Pretty much nothing. Trying to compare how a group of pros perform against another group of pros will tell you very little in regards to how Grantham will coach our defense. On the other hand, the defense was hitting Favre often, and not sacrificing big gains to Adrian Peterson. They were playing with enthusiasm and vigor - something Dawgs fans have audibly missed for years. If Grantham infuses our defense with those two things as he says he will (and as is evidenced by the men he's been coaching), then the fans will be very happy with the result.

Now, on to personnel. Folks are curious as to what kind of recruits we'll be filling this defense with. Well, the 3-4 is a Playmakers' defense. Looking over the Cowboys' roster, you will see a grand total of ONE "official" Defensive Tackle. The rest of the defensive front (16 players) are defensive ends and linebackers. What does this mean? Look for the recruitment of serious ATHLETES. The 3-4 lives off having a big, mobile nose tackle who can clog running lanes, and then extremely athletic defensive ends and linebackers who attack the ball in both the run and the pass.

So far, Deangelo Tyson has received the majority of the support from outgoing seniors to be the man at nose. Brandon Wood had more tackles during this past season, so I'm sure he'll be one to step up and say "Not so fast, guys!" But to be honest, I'm looking forward to seeing what ol' Kwame Geathers might be able to do. At 6'6 320+, he's the biggest kid at the position right now, and if his pedigree and recruitment are anything to go by, he's gonna be a a pretty good player. Now, asking a redshirt freshman to come in and be the lynchpin of your defense might be a tall order. I think it's going to be very fun to see who ends up filling that spot. To be honest, I wouldn't mind seeing if Kiante Tripp shows up in that spot. He's big, he's athletic and thus far, he's done very little to be excited about because of numerous position changes. I think it'd be great to see him step up and fill a big role in this new defensive scheme. Now, that's purely out of a 'rooting for the underdog' point of view...not a "he's the best guy for the job" point of view. I have no idea who the best guy for the job is, and thankfully, I don't have to. That's why Grantham's getting 750K in 2010.

So far in the 2010 recruiting class, UGA has only one DT commitment, and he ain't a big guy. It'll be interesting to see if Grantham can wrangle another one or two with his "This is what the NFL is looking for" pitch. The DEs we have committed also received offers from FL, AL and USC among it definitely looks like we're bringing in the right kind of talent.

Also, looking at how many of last season's playmakers were younger guys, it's hard not to feel optimistic about the next couple of seasons, as Grantham installs his playmaker defense and really turns the Dawgs lose. It should be fun!

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Supporting Richt

Over the past two seasons, many people have lessened their support for Mark Richt. I have a friend who spews bile when he speaks of Richt, and wants to get rid of him. He is fanatical in his devotion for the Dawgs, and says that Richt has overseen the greatest fall from Glory in the program's history over the past five seasons (even though we won the SEC in the first of those five seasons), and that he should be canned. I defend Richt. I love the man. In a recent letter, I responded to some of his accusations and defended Coach Richt. I know there are many out there who may get caught up in similar discussions. So, feel free to use my own arguments, claiming me to be the highest authority. : ) Go Dawgs!

The Letter:

I'm not here to admonish your feelings, though I feel as though I should. You continue to tell me that you don't understand the intricacies of football, but then you harp on things like playcalling. I love people who will call up a lousy playcall or two, and then use that as if it's some kind of anecdotal statistic for a man's entire career. Want to line up playcall memories? How about I bring up P-44 Haynes (the hobnail boot)? What about the call on 4th and fifteen, to throw an all-or nothing go route to Michael Johnson against Auburn on our way to an SEC title? Remember a play-action pass in overtime to beat Alabama? How about the fast slant-route to Massaquoi that beat GA Tech? Oh but if those are too far back to remember, then I guess we could always go back to that end-around to Branden Smith that blew the game wide open against South Carolina in 2009. There isn't an offensive coach in the WORLD who doesn't make strange playcalls from time to time. And, on a 3rd and long, when everyone in the stadium knows a pass is coming because you don't have a running qb, to call a draw seems INSANE....or GENIUS. Do you know what the difference in genius and insanity in playcalling is? The result. Quite simply, if P-44 haynes doesn't work, everyone thinks Richt is an idiot for calling a playaction pass instead of running it up the gut. If Michael Johnson doesn't catch that ball against Auburn, people hang Richt for not calling a pass that would get the FIRST DOWN. You call Richt an offensive idiot (in so many words) and neglect the fact that in the last two years, our offense has had the highest output for a UGA team since 1981-1982. These last two years have been when Mike Bobo (who you call too inexperienced to coach QBs) has been at the helm. You say Richt is a puppeteer, and to a degree that may be true, I really don't know. But, there's no doubt that in the past two seasons, our offense has been better than it has been in a long while. We had 49 tds through the air in the last two years. There isn't a two year stretch in UGA history that will show you that.

As for 2006, Stafford wasn't READY for the reigns in early 2006. Do you remember his FIRST start? Had to be bailed out by Joe Cox, who came in and did a BRILLIANT job to win the game for us. He didn't understand the playbook, and hadn't seen that "meaningful time" you love to go back to again and again and again. Had Stafford started the first four games of that season, I can promise you we would have lost at least one of those, if not more. Murray and Mettenberger have had a year's worth of learning in the system, and from all the reports I hear, have all the tools to be great at this level. Do you remember 2001?

David Greene, a RS Freshman in a new offensive system (which means while he had a year of learning about SEC speed and defenses, he didn't have time to learn the particular offense) led the team to an 8-3 record, with a last-minute (47 seconds) game-winning drive against Tennessee. The offense pounded Arkansas, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and became the first UGA team in 4 years to topple GA Tech, crushing them 31-7. This was with a redshirt freshman quarterback who had a year at Georgia, but only a few months in the offensive system. Oh yeah, and who was coaching him that first year? Mike Bobo, who had spent a year as UGA's Qb assistant in 1999, and a year as the QB coach at Valdosta State in 2000. Just FYI - in 2000, Valdosta State led all of Division II in passing offense and the QB, Dusty Bonner, won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in Division II football. David Greene was a 3-star recruit with good upside whose icy-under-pressure demeanor made him a legend at UGA. He made "honorable mention" lists for national awards in High School, but never had all of the huge hype that some of our recent QB recruits have.

Aaron Murray and Matt Barkley (SC Trojans) fought against each other for top rankings from all of the recruiting services and at the various camps. Some listed Barkley as best, others had Murray. He's a true student of the game who LIVES in his playbook. I'm not saying he's going to come in and DESTROY people, but "Redshirt Freshman" doesn't always mean "ineptitude." Did you know that Sam Bradford was a WALK-ON REDSHIRT FRESHMAN in 2007 when he came in and led the Sooners to the Big12 title and broke all kinds of records? Again, not saying that Murray or Mettenburger are like Bradford, but I just want you to be informed.

Do I think we'd be better served if Logan Gray had panned out better? Yes I do. Am I worried about Murray and Mettenberger? I am not. I don't get my sense of "comfort" from the thought that "we'll be fine" and that we can go through a rebuilding phase again in 2010 and be good for 2011. I feel comfortable because I know that Redshirt Freshmen have had success in the past, even here at UGA, and I know that our coaching staff has developed a few pretty good QBs (and have whiffed on a few...everyone does).

To open the 2010 season, UGA will face one team in its first five games that finished in the top 25 nationally in defense, South Carolina. That South Carolina game will be one where we'll find out a good deal about our Freshman QB, as they'll be losing few seniors off what was a pretty good defense in 2009. That's the second game of the season. Get through that one with a "W", and we should be looking good all the way to Tennessee. Then, the stiff tests will really come week-in, week-out, as we'll face solid defenses from TN and KY. FL will still be good, though without a bunch of standout seniors in their two-deep and Charlie Strong going to Louisville, we may catch a break for the first time in years against the Gators. That game, btw, is the only one on our schedule that already has a tv contract (CBS 3:30 ET).

Anyway, the season is set up for a good ease-in for a young quarterback. Ten returners on offense will support him as he learns. If we start next season with the running game going the way it ended this season, he will likely enjoy the benefits of few 3rd and longs, and respect in the play-action game. That will bode well for his development.

You say Richt chose to ignore a team going south, and I disagree. "Fire the man in charge" isn't always the answer, and a good manager knows that. Fans are often very quick to call for heads to roll, and while I think it should have been done earlier, Richt was most likely looking for a better solution. We don't know what kind of re-tooling happened behind the scenes. You can't tell me that you know if schemes and defensive playcalling were drastically different in 2009 than they were in 2008, but they could have been. Richt could have sat Willie down in 2008 and told him, "I really need you to work harder this year, and fix these problems. I need you to buckle it down and set things straight. We have to perform better, and I need you to bring that about," and when he didn't, Richt let him go. You don't know. I don't know.

As for the "We're looking for the best man" statement, I don't think that was an excuse, but a comment to make people understand. I mean, UGA could throw 500 thousand at some unknown DC, spin it fantastically and make everyone happy about the hire. But if he doesn't come in and perform, it's a disaster. No, Richt and Evans are going to go for the absolute best they can get, and that guy might be better than those who've turned the position down. As a fellow blogger (Paul Westerdawg, Georgiasportsblog) put it, "
Let's say you ask out Miss September, and she turns you down. Then you ask out Miss October, and she turns you down as well. Who cares if you still end up with Miss December?" People who get all pissed off about each missed hire are wasting their energy worrying about the wrong thing. To an equal point, worrying about whatever recruits we might lose in this class due to a fluxuation in our staff is pointless. If a kid changes his mind on coming to UGA because he really wanted to play for WM that much, I don't really care to have him wearing Red and Black. Not only that, but if we lose 2-3 kids because we don't have a DC yet, then we hire one that shaves 12 ppg off our defensive totals, I promise you, no one is going to care about where those kids ended up in college.

You think Richt should be fired because this is our fourth season without an SEC title, and 9th under Richt with no National Title. When would you have fired Vince Dooley? By the way, if you name any year after 1975, you're doing yourself a disservice. 1975 was the seventh consecutive season that Dooley did not win the SEC (after having won twice in his first five years). Richt won the SEC twice in his first five years. 1980 was Dooley's 17th season in Athens. Was there a public outcry for his firing at any point between 1964 and 1980? I don't know, I wasn't alive. I'm asking you simply because the foul hatred that people bring forth for Mark Richt comes from his lack of producing a National Title in his first nine years. Ask yourself this...if he had fired Willie Martinez in 2007, and we still didn't have a National Title, would you hate him any less? You haven't liked Richt for years, stemming back from BEFORE Martinez became DC, and that's fine...but don't use his handling of the WM situation as the "catalyst" for your dislike of him.

Just curious...where would you stack Frank Beamer? He was at VT for 8 years before winning his first conference title in '95. It would be four more years before ever getting to the National Title game. He still doesn't have a national championship ring, and the only time he was in the game was ten years ago. Is Beamer a better coach than Mark Richt? Oh yeah, and let's not forget that Beamer had been a Head Coach for 6 seasons before getting to VT.

You suggest that we have fallen, that we can never rise, that we are defeated. That's an attitude I'd hate to be in a battle or a game alongside. Just FYI, do you know how UGA performed in the season following our last "4th in the east" finish? We were 13-1 and won the SEC.

If you truly hope you're wrong, then I suggest you do this...look for positives instead of negatives when it comes to UGA. Give yourself something to look forward to, not a reason to dread the upcoming season. With the end of a dismal year, comes the dawning of a new one. The 2010 team is a new team, and a reason to have renewed hope and optimism. Look on the brighter side, you'll live longer (and you might need that, if you want to see us win a championship).

Go Dawgs!

Monday, January 4, 2010

What About Bumpas?

Ok, Dick Bumpas at TCU is another candidate that I've liked for a couple of years. I explained a bit about why a few posts ago, but I recently received an email calling him "not ready for prime time" because of the fact that his team plays in the mountain west. First off, the Mountain West has been pretty darn good the past couple of years. Now, aside from that....let's just look at this season:

Bumpas' Defense surrendered 12ppg in an undefeated 12-0 season.
Then, they gave up 10 in the 17-10 loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. (7 pts scored by Boise State's Defense beats them) By the way, Boise State's offense was #1 in the nation at 44 ppg.

Major wins:

Clemson - #28 scoring offense - 31ppg - TCU surrenders 10
SMU - #45 - 29ppg - TCU surrenders 14
BYU - #11 - 35ppg - TCU surrenders 7
Utah - #34 - 30ppg - TCU surrenders 28
Air Force - # 36 - 30ppg - TCU surrenders 17

And then...2008
TCU holds Boise State to 10 points, BYU to 7, Stanford to 14 and Utah (Undefeated, beat BAMA) to 13.

Bumpas arrived at TCU in 2004, and didn't have a stellar first season. But, his next two were pretty solid. The team won 11 games in each of those seasons. The offense bailed him out in a 51-50 victory in 2005, but other than that, his team only gave up > 20 on three occasions that season. In 2006, they only surrendered > 20 twice. 2007 was another down year, as TCU reloaded talent, leading into VERY solid years in 2008 and 2009.

Bumpas ain't getting the talent at TCU that he'll get at UGA.

Five year recruiting totals at TCU (2005-2009)

Total number of five-star recruits = 0
Total number of four-star recruits = 6
Total number of three-star recruits = 48
Total number of two-star recruits = 48
Total number of one-star recruits = 0
Total recruiting points (stars) = 264
Total number of commitments = 102
Average star per recruit = 2.6

Five year recruiting totals at UGA (2005-2009)

5-star - 4
4-star - 64
3-star - 42

No 1 or 2 stars....they walk-on.
Total stars - 407
Total Commits - 111
Avg - 3.67 stars/commit.

That's an additional "star" for every commitment that he'd get to coach at UGA over the ones he coached at TCU.

The guy does great work with lesser talent. He could be a solid hire.

What do we need?

People have been asking what I think our team needs in order to start climbing back to the top of the SEC. First off, I don't think we need to CLIMB anywhere. We have the talent to be at the top of the SEC. A few changes on the field and in the spirit of the team, and we'll be there.

I believe there needs to be an increase in discipline. I don't understand pre-play penalties, I really don't. In my years as a player, I had one pre-play penalty. As a Center in HS, I somehow had a false-start called against me. I was the guy who snaps the ball, and I moved before the ball was snapped. Amazing. I don't understand how Clint Boling frequently jumps out of his stance. I don't understand how defensive players line up offsides. I don't understand how ends jump across before the ball moves. I really don't get ANY of that. We have to become a more DISCIPLINED football team.

Our Defense needs improvement in all areas, and in one personnel group in particular, the LBs.

It's been a while (before Rennie) since I recall having a truly GREAT linebacker. The draft classes from about 05-09 were pretty dry for our LBs...not coincidentally, years under Martinez. Brandon Miller and Tony Taylor both made NFL rosters, and were good players, but they weren't Brandon Spikes-style LBs. Marcus Dowtin looks like he's probably our next good one. The kid is young (soph) and makes some mistakes (sloppy tackling resulted in the Charles Scott run to beat us against LSU), but he looks like he'll be pretty solid. There were 16 LBs on the Roster this year, and you probably only know of a handful of them. What will be good with a new coach coming in, is that they'll all have a blank-slate. Whoever performs will play...politics will take a back seat, because he won't come in with preconceived notions (other than the fact that Rennie should be kept if at all possible). We're bringing in the #5, 14, and 18 LBs in the country with this recruiting class, so that's good. And, we're getting a guy from Newnan who is ranked #104 who is 5'9 and nearly 200 pounds. I'm wondering if he's Rennie Redeux.

The question - are we simply poor at evaluating recruits (doubtful given the recent success of freshmen and sophomores on this team) or are we bad at coaching them up? That's what I'd go with. Massaqoui was an amazing talent from day one (so amazing that he even earned a scholarship for Joe Cox) and he underachieved for two years before being joined by AJ. Rashad Jones and Bryan Evans have never amounted to much beyond being physically gifted. Stafford himself, our big #1, never blossomed in the way that we as fans would have liked to see. This all speaks to the day-to-day processes of coaching. Defensive coaching issues are being addressed, and I have to believe that Richt is going to be very aggressive in the marching orders he gives to the incoming DC. As for the offense, well, I think the past two seasons haven't been complete busts. 2008 was, offensively, one of the better seasons Georgia has ever had. Stafford set the all-time record for TDs in a season, and Cox fell one short of tying him. 49 TDs passing in the past two seasons. Find two other back-to-back years when UGA has that many. I know it hasn't happened in the Richt era. Did Cox make mistakes? Yes, but his development as a quarterback was pretty decent. He tried to do too much at times, and I think that's as much a product of the position he was put in as it is a flaw in his football education. I'm eager to see Murray and Mettenburger. I'd like to know just how much they've improved in the year they've had.

I can't say we bring in bad recruits...unless even the national recruiting services are terrible at evaluation - because we're consistently in the top ten. So, what I have to say is that group of coaches simply didn't have "it."

Some are too quick to point fingers at DE. We were hampered by injury last season, and the younger guys last year are the producers this year. As for the 09 class, there are four DEs in that class. Two have played (Robinson and Longo) and I believe Longo got hurt. Robinson looks like he'll wash out at UGA. Hopefully we'll get his discipline in order...but sometimes you just can't take the troublemaker out of the kid. As for the other two, hey, redshirts happen, and can result in solid play. Will Thompson redshirted my senior year at Georgia. He developed into a solid DE. To be honest, finding a true freshman DE that will come in and be a great player immediately is rare.

As for our OL, it's hard for me to understand the amount of injury our OL has sustained in the past few years. When Richt showed up, Van Hallanger was known as a world-class strength and conditioning guy. What is it that has our linemen going down with so many injuries? Also, how in the world does a coach know that Vince Vance is gonna be a bust? The past three years on the OL, we have had problems that have necessitated moving guys around at an alarming rate. It's no surprise that players aren't developing as well as they should since they're switching positions as often as a ten-cent hooker. The calls and adjustments that a lineman has to know are
extensive. Multiply that by three positions, and then realize that we run a weak-strong offense and that there are additional adjustments, and you'll start to see how it can be tough to develop. Searels is a hell of a coach, IMO, and I don't know how much more Richt can expect from him. The adjustments he made in the bowl game changed our offense from sluggish and plodding to downright unstoppable.

QBs....Richt came in as a great "developer" of Quarterbacks. In 9 years, Richt has had five guys start at quarterback, only two of them for multiple years. The question has been raised about his recruitment of quarterbacks and how he's handled them year in and year out. I don't know if I recall every signing, but here's a rundown of Richt's Qbs.

00 David Greene (Donnan)
01 DJ Shockley
02 Joe Tereshinski
04 AJ Bryant, Blake Barnes
05 Joe Cox
06 Matt Stafford
07 Logan Gray
09 Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenburger
10 Hutson Mason

We didn't take a QB in 03 or 08. I don't understand EVER not taking a QB. I just don't get that. I think you scholarship a Qb every single year...especially if your goal is to DEVELOP QBs. The problem with that is, big-time recruits want to compete for a job. So, you're likely not going to get one of the top QBs every year. In 02 and 03, there's no way a top-flight QB was going to come to UGA and try to beat out Greene or Shockley. It wasn't going to happen. Joe T is the son of the walk-on coordinator/film guy at UGA. That's why he came. AJ Bryant and Blake Barnes were supposed to be the next Greene and Shockley. Both had great superlatives coming in. However, Bryant made a move to receiver where he contributed, and Barnes saw the writing on the wall and got out of dodge when Stafford came in. Cox was a VHT recruit, but in my opinion was a hoax. He was a winner at the highschool level, but as I've said before, I believe his success was more a product of his incredible receiver (Mohamed Massaqoui) than his own abilities. Plus, success on the highschool level is certainly no indicator of what you can do in college. Now to Logan Gray....he looks terrible as a college qb. He's very athletic, but his mental capacity seems low. When he's played, and been given the opportunity to do more than mop-up, he's looked sloppy and ineffective. I wasn't impressed by him at the GDay game, and have been less impressed in his action in-season. If he moves to receiver, he may help the team tremendously...if for no other reason, by removing the question of whether or not he'll be the qb (FYI - He won't be the qb). Be honest, though, in the years that Richt has been there, he's really only had an awful QB situation twice - 2006 and 2009. I saw Hutson Mason play in a highschool all-star game the other day. I have no idea what to think after watching that. He only had a couple of days' practice with his team, and threw decent. He did a good job of extending plays, but again, I have no idea how it will translate.

"Ok, Dukes. You've rambled on plenty now. Tell me, what in the world do we need? If we could address the biggest problem first, what would it be? How would we do it?! TELL ME, MAN!"

Fine, I will. I think we need a DC who comes in and has real attitude. We need a DC whose goal is to punish opposing offenses. Our defense hasn't had real swagger since 2005. In 2007, they tried to find some, but it always felt manufactured to didn't feel like the IDENTITY of the defense. Do you know what a rock-solid PUNISHING defense does for an offense? It gives the offense a bit of swagger as well. You become much more aggressive when you can trust your defense to not give up points. Your playbook is a great deal more wide-open when you can count on your D to back you up. We haven't had that in a while. That will also cure the ills as far as Leadership. You say the leadership is a joke. I challenge that. I think Cox was the defacto leader of the offense, and I think he carried that badge well. He was called on to do more than he should have on a number of occasions, but they seemed to listen to and rally around him as well. He's gone now, of course, and it's gonna fall to other players like AJ Green to elevate the offense. The Defense, well, I'm not sure who the leaders will be. But, leadership trickles down from the top. If we get some violent, roughneck, BULLDOG of a DC, I think you'll see the leadership come out quickly. If Rennie and/or Rashad are there, that will be a big help.

The LBs haven't been amazing over the past few years, and we've seen decreasing production from our DBs as well. Fabris was a pretty good DEs coach, but there are better ones out there...and a high-profile DC will probably be able to assemble a staff that will be solid. I especially like it if we get a guy with NFL ties who can bring in some other NFL-caliber coaches. That will also aid in recruiting, because they will have inside contacts that kids will like.

Other than that, I can't really say much on day-to-day changes. I'm not around the program much anymore (living in CA) so I don't know a hell of a lot about how they're handled over there. I only pick up bits and pieces when I'm back for visits. But, the teaching NEVER stops. Even the GAs in the weight room get on to the kids about having the right attitude, pushing themselves, etc. So, that part is pretty solid at least.

The thing we ALL need to remember is, we're not insiders. There's a reason Mark Richt makes 2million bucks a year to make these decisions. He knows more about every aspect of the program than any of us do. He's won 90 games in 9 years, that's not bad...puts him in company with 3 other coaches, I believe...and they've all won national titles.

This thing has dragged on for far longer than I anticipated, so I'm gonna shut up now. Hopefully I made a decent point or two in there. My point: Fix the defense. The rest will fix itself.

I'm eagerly awaiting the news of the hire, just as you are.

Go Dawgs!

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Search Continues...

John Chavis said No. Bud Foster said No. Vic Koenning decided to leave his alma mater, Kansas State, and bolt for the greener pastures of ILLINOIS??? I can't imagine that Illinois is going to be giving Koenning more MONEY than UGA would. In fact, it's being reported that Illinois is paying Koenning 325K. Reports are that Chavis was offered 600K. Sooooo, what can we take from this?

1) UGA did not offer Koenning 600 thousand. I'm sorry, I can't imagine a scenario where any coach would leave his alma mater for another school, have his choice of two, and take the less-prestigious job for nearly half the sheckles. There's just no way.

2) UGA learned that the price of a quality DC will be much higher than what they were paying Martinez, who isn't what I would call "high-quality." I'm guessing they offered Koenning slightly more than $325K, and it simply wasn't enough.

3) The UGA job isn't high-profile or high-paying enough to pull a quality Coordinator laterally. I mean, LSU is in the same conference as UGA. Why would Chavis want to come back to the East? To be honest, the West is the more prestigious side of the conference right now. If you can dominate that side of the SEC, your stock will certainly rise. But, does Chavis need it to rise? Does he have HC aspirations? I don't know. Bud Foster has been with Frank Beamer for 32 years, as a player and coach. Why would he want to leave a 10-3 team with championship potential to come rebuild the Dawgs?

So what are the barriers?

1) The Conference - with prestige also comes a bit of intimidation for a coach. The offenses in the SEC are varied and each offer significant challenges. A DC walking into Athens is going to have to scheme against different spread attacks at Kentucky, Florida, Auburn, Arkansas, MSU and Ole Miss; power pro-styles at Tennessee, Alabama and LSU and then the ever creative Spurrier at USC. Oh, and then there's Georgia Tech's triple option. It's a pretty tough slate to ask someone to come in and handle.

2) The Expectations - Whoever is hired is being hired with ONE goal in mind - to Restore Georgia's defense to CHAMPIONSHIP level. This "10-win" hype that we love to talk about ain't gonna cut it. 2007, while a feel-good year and a Sugar Bowl victory, was garbage because we weren't champions of any sort. 11-2 and NOTHING. 2008 was an underachiever. We rolled in at #1, but even in game one, we didn't look like Champions. We dropped in the rankings after successive victories, and then we were DOMINATED by Alabama. The fans and the Head Coach are tired of this. So, whoever comes in has to turn the defense around immediately.

3) The Bare Cubbard - The defense loses: [potentially] its top two tacklers in Rennie Curran (122) and Reshad Jones (68) and [definitely] the "big three" in the middle - Weston, Adkins and Owens are gone, as is depth-man Brandon Wheeling. Darius Dewberry and Bryan Evans (sing halleluah) are also out. So, the new DC will be asked to have a championship-callibre defense with a great deal of youth and inexperience. That has to be a bit daunting. Job #1 for the new DC may be in convincing at least one, if not both, of those Juniors to stay at UGA for his final season.

So what is the answer?

I don't know. Luckily, I'm not the guy paid 2 million per year to make those kinds of decisions. I'm not a big fan of the idea of bringing in an NFL position assistant as our DC for some on-the-job training. One name right now is Todd Grantham, the DL coach of the Dallas Cowboys. now, Grantham DOES have DC experience, in the NFL. In his first year, his Cleveland Browns pass defense was 4th in the league, but his run defense was in the bottom quarter of the league. He was fired in January 2008 after his defense ranked no higher than 25th in the major categories for 2007. Since then, he's been the DL coach for Dallas, which has one of the better DLs in the league. So then, the question becomes...if he comes to UGA, will he want to coach the DL, and if so, what do you do with Garner?

Kirby Smart is still a name that is floating around, but I don't know how likely it is that he'll come over. Again, a lateral move from a prestigious university with big-time money. The opposite argument is that the defense belongs to Saban anyway, and he can name ANYBODY coordinator.

I want this search to be over as much as anyone, but the hire is EXTREMELY important, and I'm glad Richt is taking the proper time and consideration for it.

Go Dawgs.