Groh on preseason, linebackers

Greetings-

A couple other reporters and I spoke with defensive coordinator Al Groh Monday after practice (the day when defensive coaches and players, along with coach Paul Johnson, are available). You can read my awesome (sarcasm) collection of notes from the interviews here. I am working on a story about Tech’s linebackers and asked him a few questions about that.

Q: How did the preseason go for the defense?

A: There’s been a good sense of purpose. Clearly, there’s something that we want to prove and that’s been pretty consistent throughout. It’ll take a long process to do that. It’s a process to prove yourself. You don’t do it in training camp, you don’t do it the first week you don’t do it the first quarter of the season. it takes 12 weeks to prove yourself. We’re still obviously in the early part of the process.

Two cents: Fair answer. Al Groh doesn’t seem like the type to go waving the pom-poms.

Q: Did anyone surprise you with how much he improved or did it pan out as expected?

A: It pretty much has. I think those players that were kind of going in a positive direction continued with that.

Two cents: When giving an interview subject two ways (Is it A, or is it B?) to answer a question, he/she usually takes the easier/safer option (sometimes, I suppose, because it’s the correct one). I try to avoid phrasing questions that way, but I do it a lot, and it’s almost like I try to grab the words out of the air as soon as I realize I’ve done it.

Q: How did the linebacker group look to you?

A: As I said, the evaluation comes when we start to play and so we’ve gone through a process where we put it in, we practice it, we come in, we look at it, we correct it, we go back out the next day and try to get better at it. It’s a process that we’re involved in.

There’s certainly not results at this time. If you just look at the daily results, then you lose the big picture of what you’re trying to get accomplished. So we’re trying to stay focused on that and realize for us to prove what we want to prove, it’s a long process to do it and it’s going to take 12 weeks to do that.

Two cents: I don’t say this to poke fun, but I think “process” is one of Groh’s favorite words. It says something about who he is. In the same vein, one of my favorite words is “taco.” I had three Monday night. Pretty good.

Q: Is it accurate to say that for your defense to do what you want it to do, you need to have playmakers at the linebacker spots?

A: We need playmakers all over the place. That has to be a position in every defense that produces that. To make an analogy to a baseball lineup, that’s kind of where your 3-4-5 hitters are supposed to be. But there are some defenses where it comes from the front guys.

What you do is you just evaluate where those particular players are and as I say to the baseball analogy, if it just so happens that your second baseman is your best home-run hitter, than you bat him fourth, even thought most second basemen don’t hit there.

It’s the same thing with the linemen. If they look like they can be better playmakers, then we try to create some things for them. If we’ve got a secondary player who’s maybe our best pressure player then we’ll use him with more pressure than somebody else.

Two cents: One of my favorite baseball players of all-time was a power-hitting second baseman, at least in his prime. Ryne Sandberg. I think his answer was a qualified yes.

Q: Have (cornerbacks) Louis Young and Rod Sweeting taken advantage of their athletic ability?

A: They have. Those are two players that showed promise last year. Rod Sweeting played sparingly. Louis played mostly special teams, but when they came back, really throughout the winter, very diligent. I’d be out here on a Saturday in February or whatnot, look out the window and there’d be Louis and Mike Peterson and a couple of others doing drills. So they’ve shown their intent and their purpose from long ago.

Two cents: Interesting detail about Young and Peterson. Groh said a couple weeks ago that Young is a guy who loves everything about football, whether it’s practice or weights or meetings or whatever. It may sound a little obvious, but it isn’t. Not every player is that way.

Q: How has Jemea Thomas looked and what sort of role do you see for him?

A: It’s an evolving circumstance with him there. It’s not what I see his role to be, it’s what he carves out to make his role. All I do is go on what I see. When I see certain things from a player that enables us to create a role for him, then that’s what we try to do. But in all cases, the player kind of has to show us something in the first place.

This is a talented player who really didn’t have to have it screwed down real hard last year. If he made a mistake running the defense off a card (with the defensive scout team), it was quickly forgotten. Now, particularly in the back end, those mistakes aren’t forgotten. That’s been a transformation for him here.

Two cents: Groh was talking about Thomas being redshirted last year, if that was unclear to you. It sounds like Thomas has yet to find his role in the secondary. I’d think he’s the No. 3 safety but beyond that, I don’t know. I can tell you that he switched jersey numbers from 38 to 14.

Q: You’ve said in the past that Jeremiah Attaochu is the prototype for his position. How close are the other three linebackers — Julian Burnett, Daniel Drummond and Steven Sylvester — to what you want for their respective positions?

A: What we’d really like is Casey Matthews, DeMarcus Ware and Jerod Mayo, if you want to know what the prototype looks like. Anything less than that is somewhat short of the prototype, but that’s the trick of it. That’s the fun of it, is to take what we have and try to get the results that we’re looking for in whatever way that we need, to take the skills of this particular group and try to mix and match ‘em and come up with what we need.

Two cents: Read: Not as close as Attaochu is. It’s not too surprising. Drummond is a converted B-back and Burnett and Sylvester were recruited to play in a different scheme. It’s a good group, though, and one that has two of the best players on the team (Attaochu and Burnett). In 2012 and beyond, you’ll see more “fits” into the scheme than this year.

Thanks for reading. Please follow on Facebook and Twitter!

By Ken Sugiura, AJC

147 comments Add your comment

destin dawg

August 23rd, 2011
6:21 am

gtfanfrom1951

August 23rd, 2011
6:32 am

The defense will be better? How is B.J. Bostic doing? We have a lot of question!

Tokyo jacket

August 23rd, 2011
6:59 am

Funny that he’s talking about a second baseman batting clean up in Atlanta…I’m just sayin.

ToeMeetsLeather

August 23rd, 2011
7:11 am

I guess we wll see in late September/early October if the defense is improved. With a ball control offense, they can come out and play like maniacs, give the ball back to the offense for a eight minute drive, and repeat “process”. If the offense can hold on to the ball and catch a few passes, we can make some noise this year.TML in nine days!

reebok

August 23rd, 2011
7:34 am

it’s a good thing we start with a really soft schedule, because we are a big work in progress on both sides of the ball. maybe by weeks 4 & 5 we will be starting to figure some things out.

Ken Sugiura

August 23rd, 2011
7:54 am

1951 – i think the defense will be better. more athletic, more comfortable in the scheme
bostic is out for about four weeks with an arm injury.
Tokyo Jacket – guess he’s been watching the Braves. maybe next week he’ll draw an analogy to aging third basemen.

Jet

August 23rd, 2011
7:57 am

Ken, where did you eat the 3 tacos?

DScottGT91

August 23rd, 2011
7:57 am

Another good report, Ken. I like the “two cents” additions you make. Groh the interviewee seems pretty bland. Here’s hoping Groh the coach is a bit more energetic…..

Michael Snipperpippens

August 23rd, 2011
8:30 am

It’s fitting that a dying program like tech is in a dying conference like the ACC. Perfection.

Ohio Jacket

August 23rd, 2011
8:33 am

Thanks for giving us your ‘two cents’, Ken!

Jacket Backer

August 23rd, 2011
8:41 am

Great stuff! Thanks Ken and Go Jackets!!

jimmers

August 23rd, 2011
8:45 am

Tech will be lucky to make it back to the Smurf Bowl this year just so they can get humiliated by a WAC team as usual.

Main Street

August 23rd, 2011
8:54 am

“So it really is true? Georgia Tech truly is where good coaches go to to watch their careers die?” — Al Groh

Processing Results

August 23rd, 2011
8:57 am

Enter your comments here

Jacket Man

August 23rd, 2011
8:59 am

Ken; Couple of observations for you. First, thanks for your great work. It’s great to read the interview, but also your “take” on what’s being said between the lines. For those not looking at the players and coaches in person, it really helps having someone being there to read the body language and nuances in the voice to help parse out what’s really what.

Next, I hope you can tell that you’ve begun to generate a rather loyal following of readers who do appreciate your work, and regardless to the fact that there are a large number of adolescents on your blogs who have nothing better to do than act the fool, please keep the updates coming and trying to keep your blogs clear of waste for your guests. I think it will be a great Fall!

Tired of Waiting

August 23rd, 2011
9:03 am

Coach Groh,
Your Process took GT from 11-3 to 6-7.
The second year of the Process needs drastic improvement.
The guy you replaced processed a 9-4 and 11-3 season.
It’s time for results Al.

DawginLex

August 23rd, 2011
9:03 am

Any of you guys read collegefootballnews.com?

What a bunch of butt clowns

In their fearless predictions section, Russ Mitchell says UGA will start 2-3, fire Richt and name Grantham interim coach. He then goes on to predict that we will beat UT ON THE ROAD WITH AN INTERIM COACH AND BEAT FLORIDA.

Then, the ACC folks blog their predictions. One of them has DUKE getting to 6 wins by upsetting GT along the way.

And these guys are getting paid………………

The Bees Nees

August 23rd, 2011
9:11 am

Thanks Ken, I really like the new things that you are doing with the blog. And I am really looking forward to reading your stuff every day.

BigTimeTechFan

August 23rd, 2011
9:40 am

Yea Ken, how about sharing some tacos next time.

My 2 Cents is that Groh is really holding back, he likes this defense and feel they will do a lot better. But like any good coach he know they have to prove it in the games.

DawginLex – sounds like collegefootballnews.com is regurgitation ESPN predictions. Let the games be played, they are the same ones that were saying Auburn had no clue when they hired Chizik and Gus Malzann.

Sport media (National, not Ken) is not that good these day. They just make statements to bring focus on themselves and not the sports.

juvenal

August 23rd, 2011
9:51 am

Lex, again thanks for an intelligent, objective view from your side-i wish you would post more, to decrease the % drivel from y’all’s camp…..so, seeing how boise never recruits in the top 50 & has a stadium that holds a mere 35K, should be a cake-walk, right?

North Ave Killer Beez

August 23rd, 2011
10:00 am

That is why I stopped reading CFN a LOOOOONG time ago. They must be up all night doing meth before making their predictions.

Tool fans are funny

August 23rd, 2011
10:05 am

Juvenal –

You would be the authority on cakewalks. Beginning the season with W. Carolina and Middle TN then following that up with an ever powerful ACC schedule.

Rduck

August 23rd, 2011
10:05 am

looking forward to seeing the improvement of this defense under coach Groh in year 2. i am not expecting the ‘85 Bears or anything, but they should be a very well coached and more physical unit in 2011. let’s hope that we can keep building through recruiting the next few years and put a defense of national caliber out there to be reckoned with.
DawginLex- i really enjoy reading your posts. very classy and on topic. keep up the good work. i think Tech and UGA could both really have good years ahead.
Ken- great updates and thank you for all your hard work. keep on keepin’ on with it…

destin dawg

August 23rd, 2011
10:15 am

GT will have a good year…. we should both have improved defenses… you guys have 2 warmup games.. we don’t.. Dawgs are excited about playing in the Dome… hope to play there twice this season. !!! can’t wait !!

Paul in NH (formerly RDU)

August 23rd, 2011
10:18 am

Judging from Ken’s report, when he worked with Belichick Al Groh picked up some tips on how to answer questions from the media.

Billy D

August 23rd, 2011
10:26 am

A special note to M. Snipperpippens, desta dawg, Jimmers:
It amazes me that there are uga fans so hard up for something to do, that they take time to (try and)read what`s on the Tech Blog and try to denigrate it.

What really interests me is how they have the cajones to criticize our 6-7 season, our bowl game, and our coaching staff. If I`m not mistaken uga also had a 6-7 season. But they had a world-class level talented team which makes your staff look “world-class?”. If I recall also, you had your butts handed to you by that perennial champion UCF of the titanic Conference USA.

We`ll see your current “dream team” on Grant Field in November.

destin dawg

August 23rd, 2011
10:38 am

dream team = Junkyard dawgs are on the way to Atlanta… 3 times this season !!!

juvenal

August 23rd, 2011
10:38 am

see, Lex, satire goes right over some of your compadre’s heads, you got to feel a little embarrassed some times with your LCDs….

Ken Sugiura

August 23rd, 2011
10:40 am

thanks for all of the kind words. it means a lot to me.
as for the tacos, they were prepared by my loving wife.
as for Al Groh, he has his topics where he’s more illuminating, and others where, for competitive reasons, he’s less so. sometimes it’s a matter of asking good questions.

ToeMeetsLeather

August 23rd, 2011
10:40 am

“destin”, I agree with you on the two warmup games, but don’t forget you guys do have three ” lick your wounds games” while we are in the heart of our schedule( Coastal Carolina, New Mexico St & Vandy). With our youth and Tevin at QB, glad we ramp up to the UNC, NC State, Maryland, Clemson, Miami, Va Tech, UGA stretch.

Ken Sugiura

August 23rd, 2011
10:42 am

as for taco recommendations, tacqueria del sol, which has a few locations, is worth a visit. i usually get the fish taco.

DawginLex

August 23rd, 2011
10:43 am

To overlook Boise is a dangerous thing to do. Comparing them to Hawaii 2007 or Boise 2005 is a joke.

They are very well coached, play hard every play and have improved from an athletic standpoint.

I believe the game will be less of a shootout than everyone believes.

I say 3-6 point spread with a game in the low 20’s to high teens.

My $.02

Tool fans are funny

August 23rd, 2011
10:45 am

Billy D –

We beat you, as always. I know tool fans try and pretend UGA doesnt beat your cheating program nearly every single year so its nice to remind you.

Juvenal –

Funny how it turns to “satire” (I think you really meant sarcasm) when your laughable schedule is mentioned….ehh? ;)

DawginLex

August 23rd, 2011
10:46 am

I actually e-mail Russ Mitchell back and forth. He really is OK but he has a woody for richt getting fired ths year. I pointed out to him that his prediction of us beating UT on the orad, Florida in J’ville and Auburn with an interim coach bordered on insanity.

I reminded him I can count on one hand the number of times we have beaten all 3 of them in the same year yet we are supposed to do it with Grantham running the show??????

zoriah

August 23rd, 2011
10:54 am

Even just a decent team would go 9-3 with yech’s JV schedule, which is why the bugs will only go 5-7.

headley lamar

August 23rd, 2011
10:55 am

seeing how boise never recruits in the top 50 & has a stadium that holds a mere 35K, should be a cake-walk, right?

Was last time.

UGA 48 Boise St 13

gt4ever

August 23rd, 2011
10:57 am

Could happen DawginLex…. I wont be surprised at anything… Not to probable, but I predict UGA to win the Boise St game and then get beat by SC…. Time will tell…

Gt, on the other hand is hard to gauge… I don’t believe they will do as bad as I think they will, but imho, there is no rational reason to believe we will do any better than last year…. Our only saving grace is that we have a very EAST schedule this year….

GT Fan

August 23rd, 2011
10:59 am

Destin Dawg … Are you thinking UGA in the Chick-fil-A (Peach) Bowl? J/k.

Regarding the Ds …. Anyone tends to get better at something the more they do it. We’ll both see just how much better this Fall.

For the Jackets, I will not be happy if WCU has even one easy scoring drive. Yeah, I expect they’ll score, but I don’t want it being easy whatsoever! Similar feeling in week 2.

zoriah

August 23rd, 2011
11:03 am

“very EASY schedule this year?” As opposed to other years????

Paul in NH (formerly RDU)

August 23rd, 2011
11:19 am

DawginLex
The last time UGA beat UT, AU and UF in the same year they had a sophomore tailback named Walker.

Jeffro Bodeen

August 23rd, 2011
11:22 am

Ken,
Any word on who the kickers will be for GT this year? I hear that CPJ was none too happy with anyone at the start of camp.

DawginLex

August 23rd, 2011
11:23 am

that’s why predicting doing it with an interim coach is insanity

AGTFan53

August 23rd, 2011
11:26 am

Thanks Ken. I also enjoy your two cents worth.

SAGE?

August 23rd, 2011
11:37 am

Very informative, Ken. (sarcasm)

5-7 for the Nerds

Tech '10

August 23rd, 2011
11:42 am

As usual, welcome Lex, I guess med schools starts up soon if it hasn’t already. Best of luck there.

Boise will in no way be a joke game, which is why the two will be battling it out on opening day in the Dome on national tv. Big game right there. I want to say that uga will handle boise st, but by a close margin and a come from behind win at that.

Tech’s defense can’t get too much worse, thankfully we have 2 potentially easier games in the beginning to work out any kinks. I’m pretty ticked I will have to be in Texas for most of the season, I will miss more home games this year than I have in the entire rest of my short life :( . Anyway, GO JACKETS!!

GIVE ME A BREAK

August 23rd, 2011
11:44 am

Groh has a lot of knowledge. I hope the players are listening. I think they are. Wish GT had a more exciting opening game, like they used to. UGA is opening with two tuff ones, but it’s exciting for them and I hope they do good. ‘ GO JACKETS ‘

juvenal

August 23rd, 2011
11:46 am

believe satire inherently sarcastic….believe fans have no control of schedules, doubt dodd did a poll b4 leaving the sec, the stupidist thing any ad anywhere ever did……Lex, think both teams will score 30+….

GT Fan

August 23rd, 2011
11:47 am

SAGE? …… I hope you’re wrong, but since you say it with such confindence a guy who calls himself “headley lamar” has a friend named “Vegas” that will pay you money for your confidence.

Headley says the Vegas guy has GT to win 6 games. So if you want to cash in on your confidence of 5-7 then get in touch with headley’s friend and make some $$$. Only problem is that you actually have to put YOUR $$$ where your mouth is … I don’t think the Vegas guys deals in “hand-shake” bets ….

Kb

August 23rd, 2011
11:56 am

Never really understood the hiring of Groh, his defenses at Virginia weren’t consistently good,middle to bottom of the ACC most of his time there.

zoriah

August 23rd, 2011
12:15 pm

Yech has no control in scheduling W. Carolina, Middle Tenn or Kansas? Really????