What can be done about the Georgia defense?

Dogs can stop the run but look clueless in pass coverage. (Associated Press)

Dogs can stop the run but look clueless in pass coverage. (Associated Press)

First, there’s no point in calling for Willie Martinez to be fired. Even if Mark Richt were to conclude a change is in order, he’s not going to do it three games into the season. If the situation is the same at season’s end, that’s the time for a change.

Secondly, as awful as the Dogs looked on pass defense the past two games, they’ve been pretty good against the run, pretty good in the red zone and decent on third down.

Against South Carolina, they simply gave too much of a cushion on receivers, allowing the Gamecocks to dink and dunk their way down the field. Against Arkansas, the problem was bigger: susceptibility to the long ball. And what made it worse was that so much of the time the receiver was virtually uncovered.

Macon/Columbus beat writer David Hale has an extremely lengthy but insightful dissection of the Georgia defensive problems at Bulldogs Blog. Essentially what it boils down to is poor fundamentals in pass coverage and lack of pressure on the quarterback.

As I said the other night, even if Martinez calls the right scheme, if the players on the field don’t execute it properly, you’re sunk. So it’s not all on the coordinator.

But as my brothers pointed out while we were discussing all this yesterday, when players are repeatedly not getting into the right coverage or don’t seem to know whether they should be playing the run or the pass, that ultimately means they’re not very well coached. And that falls on Martinez.

Obviously, Martinez and his staff need to figure out:

1. Why can’t Georgia consistently mount an effective pass rush? More specifically, why couldn’t the Dogs’ defensive front get to a fairly traditional stationary passer like Ryan Mallett? If the linemen we’re playing aren’t capable of getting more pressure on opposing QBs, do the Dogs need to shake up their lineup?

2. Why are so many receivers going uncovered?

It’s been suggested that instead of going with a stop-the-run-first mentality, that Martinez needs to drop more players back into coverage. It was notable that late Saturday night when Georgia did just that, they not only frustrated Mallett but they got to him. Yes, they gave up more running yards in the fourth quarter, but not enough to matter that much.

As a fan, I don’t know what the answer is. But I assume that, at least in a theoretical sense, the Georgia coaching staff does.

Now they need to not only institute whatever changes are in order, but light a fire under some of our underperforming defenders. Or perhaps bench a few folks. Could relatively inexperienced but eager backups do any worse than what the Dogs are getting now?

171 comments Add your comment

carolina dawg

September 21st, 2009
3:20 pm

What if the d-lineman just aren’t good enough? Schemes, play calling and strategy try and accentuate what you have, but what if the best we have is what we’re seeing? Interior lineman are supposed to be good, but we’ve heard for two years how we’re just not getting the play out of the ends. I don’t think how we’re coaching them has changed, but talent could have. Mistakes in the secondary are magnified when you don’t get good pressure.

You take young corners combine them w/ average defensive ends (they do get some pressure, just not dominant) and this migh be what you get. Provides little room for error (turnovers by the offense).

Funny how our offense must be so good for scoring all those points and our defense must be so bad for letting USC and UA score all their points. We can certainly get better on defense, no question, but just like our O got better from week 1, some (not all) of the offensive plays against were just good offense on the other team’s part.

41 38 49 38 45 24 37 41

September 21st, 2009
3:20 pm

If CMR had a pair he would have fired Willie after the game Saturday night. Saban, Miles and Meyer wouldn’t put up with this crap and that’s why they win championships and CMR don’t. Just wait and see in a few weeks and the inbred nation will be realy screaming when offense bogs down against strong competition. Bank on it!

EW

September 21st, 2009
3:21 pm

And for the record we are giving up 100 to Florida unless Tebow gets Swine Flu

Dawgs 73

September 21st, 2009
3:21 pm

Bill, this issue is like expecting our government to make a smart, educated decisions….ain’t gonna happen. Willie is simply not good enough and has had several years/talent to prove his worth. If we are going to say “he can only coach the players and can’t tackle for them” then you are missing the point. A coach’s title is just that…coach. We are not asking Willie to put on pads and make tackles we are asking him to take the talent base he has been provided and “coach them up”. That means making your players understand your defensive scheme, putting them (the players) in the best possible position to make plays, buy into your “mantra/system”, and get the absolute most out every player.

Shankit

September 21st, 2009
3:24 pm

Blitz, Blitz, Blitz.
Kill the opposing quarterback on the first series
of downs. Put him on his arse every play, especially
the first series. He will be tippy toes the rest of the game.
Stunt, Stunt, Stunt.
Our defensive lineman never stunt or move around,
they just line up and get blocked.

Cajun Injector

September 21st, 2009
3:25 pm

“Bulldogs taste like CHICKEN……Bama-toilet paper that Tide can’t help!” Quoted: LSU’s Mike the Tiger, Sept.21, 2009

Ed

September 21st, 2009
3:32 pm

There appears to be little motivation and no consequences for terrible or undisciplined play. Reshad Jones’ inability to bump a Tech runner out of bounds on a long touchdown run last year apparently didn’t cost him a single play of time. One of our lineman made a stupid penalty in last year’s UF game (basically, a right cross to a Gator lineman’s face mask) that nullified an early interception. I don’t recall him getting benched. On another play in that game, Harvin took an option pitch from Tebow and trotted into the endzone untouched and unchallenged – obviously a huge blown assignment from a corner, DE, or linebacker, or some combo of the above. I don’t recall anyone sitting down after that. This has been the trend since the 4th and 10 blown coverage that lost the ‘05 Auburn game.

And the inability to pressure the qb is mystifying. Surely there is someone on Georgia’s roster – a scrappy transfer or walk-on, maybe a former blue-chip recruit that finds himself buried on the depth chart at his current position, or if all else fails, a tough kid from the freakin’ student body who’s willing to strap it on, pin his ears back, and get after the other team’s quarterback down after down (don’t laugh – Rudy got a sack on his only play from scrimmage).

You can talk about execution, discipline, etc. all you want, but the truth is that Georgia lacks a GATA mentality on defense. If that’s not a coaching issue, I don’t know what is. Remember, we have a roster full of players that were recruited by all the other conference and regional powers, including some that were recruited by the whole country. “The players aren’t executing” crap just doesn’t cut it any more.

That being said, kudos to Richt and Bobo for apparently taking the offense to a new level. I give them a pass for the Oklahoma State game – long road trip, sick quarterback playing on a very hot day, first game, etc. Unless the last two games are an aberration, I have to say that this is the most explosive offense UGA has had since the Zeir days. From the looks of things, they better not have many off-days this year.

hamburger lips

September 21st, 2009
3:33 pm

Problem at UGA as well is the recruiting coordinator. He cannot evaluate good talent and keep recruiting these hot dogs that want to play games on signing day. I get tired of this crap with the hat and jersey switching while loaded down with their thug bling. CMR needs to stop coddling players and get serious.

The next two weeks CMR needs to have CLOSED practices and NOT allow players to talk to the media. Players like Jeff Owens needs to quit making videos and doing silly blogs. It time to put up or shut up DAWGS!!! UGA nation deserves a much better product on the field. CMR will pi$$ the media off if he would take this approach but I’ll guarantee you he will get through to the players and coaches.

MoDawg

September 21st, 2009
3:37 pm

Shankit….good call on the stunt. You are right…our D-line lines up and charges straight at them. We don’t crossover or stunt and create blitzing lanes for our linebackers, at all. If we bring heat, it comes from the corner where it gets picked up by the running back, every time.

Good call!

WTF???

September 21st, 2009
3:37 pm

I have YET to see our defensive backs play press coverage. I have yet to see our defense stop an offense from throwing the ball all over the place. Hmmm, is there a correlation there? MARTINEZ SUCKS!!! BAD!!! FIRE HIM TODAY!!! We have WAY too much talent on defense to be giving up this many points. UT is going to beat us like a f-ing DRUM!!!

UGAKev {true dawg fan}

September 21st, 2009
3:40 pm

It just goes to show that it really was coaching on offense week 1 against Ok St when we only scored 10 pts. The playcalling that game was a joke except the first drive. But look at how great the offense was the past two games with BoBo changing his approach on offense and really just opening things up. I think the same thing can be done on defense atleast to improve it somewhat. One thing I really notice on defense is that when Willie Martinez blitzes, the other team seems to pick it up well and we never can get back to the QB in time. He has got to come up with ALOT better schemes. His schemes are really what bothers me more than anything. I look at how Van Gorder Blitzes and he always more times than not would get his defense to get to the Qb OR make the qb do something stupid.

Topp Dogg

September 21st, 2009
3:41 pm

Bud Foster would replace Soft Willie if the money were to be favorable enough

Donkeyfied

September 21st, 2009
3:42 pm

Someone call up Dr. Lou, Im sure he can fix our defense!!!!!!

LifelongDawg

September 21st, 2009
3:42 pm

I don’t think it’s ever the wrong time to get rid of someone for failing to do their job. I worked at a company that terminated one long-term employee on Christmas Eve, then followed that up by terminating another on Christmas Day. It may not have been politically correct, but they simply had to go. Same thing applies to Martinez. Give someone a battlefield promotion, but get him off the staff.

Palmetto State Dawg

September 21st, 2009
3:42 pm

Hey Saint Simons, Richt is 7-1 against you pathetic dorks! HAHAHA!!!!! Hilarious that you hang your hat on a 3 pt victory from last year. First one in, what 7 tries. That in itself speaks VOLUMES about your little football program at Tech. HAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ashburn Dawg

September 21st, 2009
3:43 pm

Can someone please tell me why Bryan Evans has started for 8 years now? I have never seen him do anything other than chase defenders to the goal line. Why is he still in there? He is horrible!

Donkeyfied

September 21st, 2009
3:43 pm

Dr. Louuuuuuuuuu Dr Lou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Enter your comments here

LifelongDawg

September 21st, 2009
3:44 pm

This can’t continue. I’d rather give up 30+ points a game without Martinez than I would with him.

The 'Ole Ball Coach (aka The Evil "Genius")

September 21st, 2009
3:45 pm

Corso’s jealous, the wrinkly old Seminole bast#$%

I hate Georgia, but even I have to hand it to UGA. UGA scores more tail in 5 years than Corso has in a lifetime. And Lee has no business critiquing others’ looks…

I’ll say this for Georgia – even though I can’t beat them anymore, I appreciate the fact that they showed I can still teach kids to pitch ‘n catch a little. How many yards we get on Sept. 12 – 500?

When your career is in the toilet like mine, you’ll dish out the needling wherever you can.

Shankit

September 21st, 2009
3:47 pm

ARkansas Gazette
“Coach Petrino can coach offense but doesn’t know crap about defense..”
“Petrino needs to fire defensive coordinator.”
“Hawgs a young team, but plenty of experience except on defense.”

SOUND FAMILIAR?

GaCracker

September 21st, 2009
3:48 pm

Simple fix: Multiple blitz schemes; press receiver (right up in his face at the line of scrimmage) man to man coverage. The scree pass has not hurt us! And I’d as soon have “Water Girl” coach the D as Unslick Willie!

hamburger lips

September 21st, 2009
3:48 pm

Clemson got rid of Tommy B. last year 3 or 4 games into the season and seems to be turning things around. So surley UGA can show Willie the door. WHY not?

GaCracker

September 21st, 2009
3:51 pm

May the ghost of Erk Russell haunt Willie Martinez and Mark Richt! Remember the “wide tackle 6′?

Palmetto State Dawg

September 21st, 2009
3:52 pm

Hey Saint Simons, Richt is 7-1 against you pathetic dorks! HAHAHA!!!!! Hilarious that you hang your hat on a 3 pt victory from last year. First one in, what 7 tries. That in itself speaks VOLUMES about your little football program at Tech. HAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous 'Cos

September 21st, 2009
3:54 pm

Hello Dawg Nation…
Just wanted to chime in with a question/thought that it seems we are overlooking with respect to Willie Martinez. I, too am getting a bit ansy watching CWM and his defensive schemes, as well as our overall defensive attempts game-in-game-out. I, too would like to see us get back to the defense UGA SHOULD have being a top-tier program. However, i MUST ask the following…
Our recruiting this year has targeted mostly defensive players, and some fine good ones to be honest. Do we lose their commitments if we get rid of Martinez? I mean, if a change is in order, i support it. But at what cost?! In my opinion, it seems as if we might lose recruits this year, yet if we can get a respected DC in here to replace CWM, then we might recruit again well next year…or two. What do you think? Would this hinder our recruiting efforts and/or commitments for next year and beyond? Regardless…i love my Dawgs. Bring on Arizona State.

Joey Joe Joe Shabadoo Jr.

September 21st, 2009
3:54 pm

We need pressure on the QB period! Give Montez Robinson a shot! Bryan Evans looks clueless in pass coverage. Isn’t he a Sr?

JB

September 21st, 2009
3:54 pm

we are way to easy to prepare for , for the opposing OC. We need to mix some things up. I know we are big on assignment football, cause our run D does a pretty good job. When we play someone who can fling it around , we are in trouble. Watch how little success Garcia has passing when he plays a strong defensive team. he looked like Pat Sullivan against us. ( sorry, great Qb at Auburn awhile back for all you young guys). Giving up 35-45 points a week calls for something new. Hell, we haven’t played anybody real good yet.

AdMan

September 21st, 2009
3:55 pm

Hamburger lips…..you are are pathetic….. you don’t have any idea what you are talking about….we recruit the same players that every other school does including Florida…they seem to be doing alright don’t they?Players need to be held accountable on and off the field. If you want results limit their playing time…thats where it will hurt them the most. Our scheme on defense will never work if the players don’t execute and thats the coaches job. CMR needs to hold every coach on his staff accountable for the results of the teams play. Now is not the time to start pointing fingers and calling people out. Let the season play out….if the play on the field continues to stink then changes will be made at the end of the season….I guarantee CMR will get rid of coaches who do not perform because if he doesn’t his boss won’t keep him around long.No team in the SEC is perfect…just look at Florida…their offense right now is pathetic….they are a one man team. If Tebow goes down they will lose.If you watched their game against Tenn….Tebow was a one man team..if Tenn had any offense at all Florida would have been in trouble. So relax this might be the most fun football season you’ve ever seen.

Thunderlips

September 21st, 2009
3:58 pm

Doesn’t a company fire its employees is they continue to underperform? That’s what Willie is doing! Someone needs to teach these guys how to rush the passer! Go Fabris needs to quit and enter the Betty Ford clinic for aenorexic coaches.

reebok

September 21st, 2009
4:00 pm

Tech fan here…your offense is doing enough to win, and your team sure looks like it is starting to believe in itself…your Dogs should flatten Azzy State, and the LSU game will be one to kick back & enjoy…good luck, avoid the injuries, and we’ll see you on the Flats in November!

the glass is half fulll

September 21st, 2009
4:06 pm

the problem is that we have underclassmen playing in key positions in the secondary. they are still out there in la la land. who else is going to play?

we went from a bunch of overhyped ego players who were auditioning for the nfl (asher allen, etc.,) masters of the deion sanders tackling tecnique, to a bunch of freshmen and sophs. and now, the georgia faithful want them to behave as if they are all-conference players…..right out of the chute….and if they don’t well…fire all the coaches.

everyone needs to chill out. two years ago vs. hawaii, willie didn’t have any problems on defense.
BVG was long gone, and we seemed to be tough enough. the d is swarming like it hasn’t in quite a while and the d backs are laying the wood on people.

did anyone not notice the difficulty of some of those catches the arkansas recievers were making – one td was a fingertip grab…..an NFL play…and yet our d-backs are supposed to stop that?

when we needed to, we got to mallett.

if we would quit turning the ball over, things would be different…….

you all may think i am crazy, but i believe we are on the verge of becoming the next dominant program in college football.

we have a quarterback that isn’t quite “the man” that you would want, but if he manages the games and makes the throws, the cast of characters surrounding him makes him look like joe friggin montana…….

if they could stop fumbling the ball, and make a few special teams plays….things would be much different.

when and if that happens, all you dummies will be back on the bandwagon.

look for another tough game vs. the devil this week….no practice outside due to the rain.

GaCracker

September 21st, 2009
4:11 pm

The A.D. or Adams can go right over Richt’s head and fire Willie. Do they have the gonads to do it?

Sanford Drive

September 21st, 2009
4:15 pm

is your glass half-full of crack and pipe dreams?

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

September 21st, 2009
4:16 pm

There is hope that Coach Martinez will find a way to improve the schemes he has been running but I’m not holding my breath. The offense and special teams could help the defense by KICKING THE BALL DEEP ON KICKOFFS and not turning the ball over on our side of the field especially early in the game which gives the other guys confidence and momentum. But I’m afraid the die is cast for this year. We can hope for a change after the season but it is apparently CMR’s decision unless Willie decides to quit and I don’t think CMR will fire Willie. But we can hope. Actually when it comes down to it, the defense has done what they had to(in the 4th qtr) to get the win.

DamnGoodDawg

September 21st, 2009
4:21 pm

It’s just possible that the DL and DB’s aren’t that good…just a thought.

HH

September 21st, 2009
4:24 pm

Surely, King, you can figure out what needs to be done!!!!!!!

DawgFan4Life

September 21st, 2009
4:26 pm

First of all the answer to the QB pressure they need to do more stunts. The front seven need to more around more mess with the other teams offinsive line head make them think more instead of just coming straing head up on them. The front four needs to stunt more. i mean pinch down more or crossing. Also the DE’s need to get more physical. They need to get there hands on the lines and just man handle them. They need to watch the NEW YORK GIANTS DE’s and see how they get down.

Far as the secondary they need to just take care of there own responsibilies before they help the next guy. Plus it would help if we had some more high at corner. The speed is there but what good is speed if you are like 5 foot 8-11 inches tall going against a WR that is 6 feet and taller. Corners must be able to jump as well as cover.

Lastly we need Brian Van Gorger back and a desent secondary coach. I mean someone who is going to whole a person accountable for there mess up. Like the Gators did durning the off-season before the 08 season I dont know how true that was about a push up for every yard Moreno got on them the year before. I tell you if that was me I would have been just like them out for blood.

ovadatop34

September 21st, 2009
4:28 pm

I’d like to see us play more man so that it is skill on skill and not scheme on scheme. I feel like the young guys can cover but they are not quite there on responsibilities yet.

DawgFan4Life

September 21st, 2009
4:30 pm

so true ovadatop34

GGTOG&THWGT

September 21st, 2009
4:39 pm

(don’t laugh – Rudy got a sack on his only play from scrimmage).
Ed- This comment is of no use in reality. Rudy was playing against GA TECH!

DawgNation

September 21st, 2009
4:44 pm

Reebok,

One of the only intelligent Tech fans I’ve seen here. Thanks for not spitting out the usual BS. I to hope Tech rebounds as I want the highest ranked Tech team to play against in Nov. Good luck with North Carolinian Saturday. I’ll be watching from my tailgating at Sanford Stadium. (Yes I have plenty of garbage bags)

Cuz

September 21st, 2009
4:52 pm

For God’s sake people. BVG is gone and is not coming back. Just leave him out of the equation.

Now back to our “Fire Willie” commentary.

Denver Dog

September 21st, 2009
4:52 pm

Bring back richard Bell, or Bill Lewis, or Marion Campbell.

How about if we just played run defense and went to a soft zone. People forget that Erk made his killing that way. It is alot more complicated than that, but if we mixed up the stunts, like wed did in the 4th quarter last week, we may find that we can pull off a victory or two on the defensive side. Mike Ditka said today, talking about the NO Saints “If you give me an offense that scores 35 points a game, I’m not worried about the defense”. He is a defensive minded coach. Maybe we have all been thinking that our offense is too predictable, maybe it is our defense. We know that Ark practiced spring and summer for this game. We beat them. That is the best passer we will see all year. If you don’t think that these kids are trying and playing thier hearts out, you need to look at yourself in the mirror. The schemes seem to be easy to read and pick apart by the other coaches and QB. If you think it is just a coach think again. Maybe we need to “free Willy” let’s see how the year goes on. If replacement is needed, it will not be because we want it to happen, but becuase he is not getting the job done. Right now, he is not. Let’s support the team and the staff through the year, because nothing is going to happen until the year is over. GO DOGS

Sherlock Holmes

September 21st, 2009
4:57 pm

If CMR is not willing to join the lynch mob,the least he could do is bring in some fresh eyes and attitude to his staff to help stop the bleeding.Anybody got John Gruddens ear.

Go dawgs

September 21st, 2009
5:05 pm

Players have to play period! – You guys can blame the coach all you want and yes sometimes he may call the wrong scheme or have the players in the wrong lineup at the wrong time – but as a college player you have to adjust and be “football smart” –

Does anyone remember Atkins and Owens running off at the mouth how good they were going to be? – I do and it seems their bark is bigger than their bite –

It does not appear that anyone on the defense is hungry and wants to stand out and that is what it comes down too – and yes CWM is the dc and db coach but these guys have been playing football their whole life and should understand a zone coverage from a man coverage – I do not believe it is the coaches fault when a receiver from the other team is 15 yards open –

Also, on some plays our corners were in position it is just that Mallet threw the ball where it needed to be and the receivers for AR made some outstanding catches – a db can only cover a receiver so long –

the dline and ends need to get a pass rush going and back up their big mouth.

RedMan

September 21st, 2009
5:06 pm

It’s supposed to rain like this through the weekend. The game will probably look like scenes from “Leatherheads”.

DawgNation

September 21st, 2009
5:07 pm

Bill,

You are correct in that CMR will not change anything on the coaching staff three games into the season. I would however like to hear from him that he does see the failures and he will be addressing them. You can not keep on giving up 400 to 500 passing yards a game and 30 to40 points in this conference and expect to win very many. As some have pointed out CWM is not to blame for all the defensives called due to poor execution by the players but he is responsible for coaching these players to not make those mistakes in coverage and to correct how to play a position. He has not done that in the time I’ve have seen him. I don’t know if he does not know how to make adjustments during a game or his scheme does not allow for it except during halftime, but CMR needs to get someone in as an Assistant DC to help with adjustments and to take over the coaching of DB’s. On special teams I don’t know why CMR allows the directional kick still as this has caused more stress on the defenses as much as the turnovers have. No imagination on the schemes for the D-line as well. The big guys up front have done well on the middle ground attack but nothing on the pass rush. Also if Georgia can kick a 50+ yard field goal there is no reason they can not kick it deep or through the end zone. Baffling to say the least. On offence not much to complain about though some here has. I was glad to see Joe measure up to his abilities and show he does deserve to be in the SEC. I’m happy that Georgia is on to of the SEC east right now at 2-0 but see a very hard road coming up fast. Hope CMR takes a hard look at his staff and his team and insists on better execution from both his coach’s and players. Can’t wait for Arizona State. Go Dawgs!!!

DawgNation

September 21st, 2009
5:09 pm

Enter your comments here

shane#1

September 21st, 2009
5:16 pm

Denver Dog, UGA played a soft zone against South Carolina and SOS took advantage of it with that huge tight end they have. People were ready to lynch Willie for that, he came out of the soft zone against Arky and got killed by their simple crossing pattern. So as long as you don’t have any pressure on the QB it is a matter of choosing your poison as a DC. Richt discussed QB pressure from the DEs repeatably in the summer and yet nothing has changed,. This leads me to believe that the Dawgs just don’t have the horses at DE. Once Houston gets his sea legs things may improve, but with Battle out I doubt it. When UGA gets some LBs back from injury Washington could help some after switching back to DE. The problem I see with the line is that all of UGAs DEs were recruited as LBs and are somewhat undersized for their posistion. I would have prefered that the Dogs had switched to the 3-4 in the off season to take advantage of their depth at LB and DT, but it’s too late for that now. We can just hope that the O and special teams will cut down on turnovers and give the D a hand. I don’t think you can win in the SEC and have almost 3 turnovers per game.

Cajun Injector

September 21st, 2009
5:17 pm

All you PUPPIES—pass the salt. All you armchair QB’s, better check your springs, they sound loose to me. Geaux Tigers