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

Sherlock Holmes

September 21st, 2009
5:19 pm

Furlough Willie for ASU and see if the bleeding stops.

GT Nerds Are a Joke

September 21st, 2009
5:40 pm

I’d really like to see UGA get a defensive guy like Miami has (John Lovett??) who can coach players to get after the QB & RBs. Did you see what the Miami defense did to the Jacquettes? Made them look like the puzzies that they are!! You have to pressure the QB & knock the pi$$ out of any RB who even looks like he is going to get the ball. UGA’s defense has the players, no question about that. It’s too bad that they’re being coached by a total retard with a show size IQ.

SlimG

September 21st, 2009
5:42 pm

This 2 deep zone is always prone to the deep fly on each corner. The Vols killed us with those passes under Cutcliffe and any good O.C. knows that weakness. The Hogs QB made some nice throws and that WR is a baller, but to me the problems lies in adjustments. The base defense is fine, but have a few wrinkles would u. O.C. must love to see the dawgs on the schedule. Our offense must score tons of points for us to be in the game. See Alabama game last year.

Get dreaming if you think Van Gorder is coming back. Falcons need him more, and look how there defense continues to improve. Would love to see some improvements from our dawgs. Sic’Um.

gomdawg

September 21st, 2009
5:44 pm

I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU FANS YOU ARE NOT HAPPEN WITH NOTHING A WIN IS A WIN AT THE END OF THE SEASON MOST OF YOU WILL EAT YOUR WORDS. IT EASN’T TWO WEEKS A GO YA’LL WANTED TO BENCH COX GIVEN TIME NOW WE HAVE A GREAT QB. GIVE THIS DEFENSE A GAME OR TWO THEY WILL GET BETTER.
DAWG FAN LOVE MY DAWGS

gomdawg

September 21st, 2009
5:48 pm

CMR DON’T HAVE TO GO FAR TO FIND A DC JUST LOOK ON THIS BLOG SEEMS TO BE PLENTY COUCH COACHES

Bushwacker

September 21st, 2009
5:49 pm

All these people wanting to get rid of Coach Martinez are exposing thier lack of football knowledge or they are new fans to the program.

It’s not the coaching!!!

We simply do not have the star athletes on defense that we did for so long.
There are no nfl players on the team , much less all pro players like we got spoiled having year after year under Donnan and Richt’s first 4 or 5 years.

How many defensive players from last years team got drafted, maybe one.

Its talent, not coaching

icedawg

September 21st, 2009
5:52 pm

Frank Lane

September 21st, 2009
5:58 pm

To add to AC’s comments. Two keys. Field Position and CONFUSION. 1) make the opposition go a long way. We don’t from turnovers, kick returns and out of bounds kickoffs. The kickoff team shares the blame. 2) CONFUSE the offense. Take away what they do best. Tall quarterback, strong arm, tall fast receivers, he can’t run, so Take away the pass first with heavy blitzes. Make Arkansas run. We stop the run which they can’t do anyway and let them pass like they want to. That part is ineffective coaching.

DOWN SOUTH DAWG

September 21st, 2009
6:00 pm

—GO JOE-GO JOE-GO JOE — ! ! ! JOE’S ALWAYS BEEN A WINNER —

—YE of SO LITTLE FAITH — !

—GO JOE—!

savanadawg

September 21st, 2009
6:01 pm

We can’t start here. Lets go back to when Mark Richt was hired. It was in the slap dab middle of recruiting and he had to hang on to Rodney Garner. He put himself in a “I owe you If you stay” situation. Brian Van Gorder left for a reason, that reason has never been discussed. But, my thought is that I believe Brian Van Gorder was not given free rain over some of his position coaches and his philosophy and CMRs philosophy just went in different directions. Van Gorder left at an awkward time to allow UGA to get a top notch DC. So CMR promoted CWM to the position. So now you’ve got a former position coach as the UGA DC. And he is either affraid to put the hammer down on his coaches or he just can’t do it, he doesn’t know how!!! Either way all this falls back to Coach Richt. Hell, who knows maybe he could be a great DC. Maybe he is not allowed to sweep the rug off (so to speak).

savanadawg

September 21st, 2009
6:04 pm

Ooops. Forgot. I mean doesn’t our Defensive Philosophy start on the line of scrimmage?????????

Patrick

September 21st, 2009
6:04 pm

Bushwacker, it’s hard to believe that you actually typed and posted such nonsense. If you were watching the same game then please explain why the UGA defenders were not even on the TV screen when Mallet completed his passes to WIDE OPEN receivers. There’s no excuse for that especially given the fact that Ark is a passing team. It’s not the talent. It’s the coaching.

77DAWG

September 21st, 2009
6:05 pm

One of our priority is to beat UF. Sound impossible now. Unless they take Willy and a few bucks. If we are using Will as a yard stick, anybody can coach D at UGA. CMR is poking around til Stafford and Morino gone with out championship. He still is doing now too until Cox, Green, Brown, and co gone. During the game I spot Willy send a dry smile to CMR while ran pass by him. I afraid CMR would jump and kiss Willy said ” it’s OK buddy, we will sink together”. We got all the great kids now and they will make us look good anyhow.

chazzo

September 21st, 2009
6:09 pm

Shane#1,

Excellent points. I think you hit the nail on the head: “The problem I see with the line is that all of UGAs DEs were recruited as LBs and are somewhat undersized for their position.”

Quite frankly, I have wondered, based on some comments Fabris made, if this wasn’t an ill-conceived plan to defense the spread, sacrificing bulk for speed. Does anyone else remember him saying that D-linemen don’t necessarily have to be big because it is a game of balance?

I still see some bright spots on the D, and I am glad that BK pointed out some plusses. I am looking forward to seeing how SC and Ark do this week. I think it will be very telling.

I see the dawgs getting a little better each week on both sides of the ball. Is “Q” coming back?

savanadawg

September 21st, 2009
6:09 pm

By the way. WHAT EXACTLEY IS “THE GEORGIA WAY” of doing things. It should be to win football games I suppose.

DeputtyDawg

September 21st, 2009
6:09 pm

gomdawg, PLEASE STOP YELLING. There is a ‘Caps Lock’ key on your keyboard – use it!!!

TybeeDawg

September 21st, 2009
6:10 pm

Why do we always set up for the return on a punt…even when Logan Gray is back there for a fair catch we have 2 guys out on the wings covering the gunners instead of goigng for the block. If you are going to fair catch, everyone should be going for the block…anyone notice this?

Scout Dawg

September 21st, 2009
6:11 pm

Reebok, thanks for your post. It is nice to not have to read some of the inane, hateful vitriol oftentimes found on these blogs, from both sides. You are welcome anytime here my friend.

southgadawg88

September 21st, 2009
6:21 pm

The problem with the D is something I have been saying since last year…without an elite pass rusher this pass defense will suffer every time we play a team with big WR and a strong arm QB.The corners are too small…period….you take a 5-8 guy and put him on a 6-3 or better guy the little guy will NOT be able to defend a well thrown ball.IMO the age of little corners are over…sure there are exceptional little guys out there that can get it done but they are the exception not the rule.The best on ball defenders we have right now would be Boykin and Smith and they are both smallish themselves…neither has much experience as a fulltime corner so both will make some coverage mistakes as they learn..they do have the athletic ability to fight bigger guys for the ball though but we must upgrade for more size at corner.I’ve been telling folks look at ALA,LSU even Tenn they started going after 6 ft or better corners 2 years ago and now we are behind.The scheme depends on a strong pass rush which we all know has not materialized yet.DE recruitment has been poor the last few seasons as well.C.Washington looks like a player though…give him some time and he and Houston could be effective as a duo…lord help us if we suffer an injury at the position.Busted coverages with wide open WR’s are not to be excused!!I put that on Willie no doubt…but there are too many times where the defenders are there but can’t make a play on the ball.We are left with Jones and Evans looking to make big hits all the time to at least try to intimidate but that’s not going to work enough to have an impact.Watch the games…the kids come up and bump at the LOS but are mostly brushed off by bigger WR and now they are open…play off them and we give up too much cushion and get burned by that..I don’t know what can be done honestly without more pressure.Maybe we can play a safety in nickel instead of a CB..One bright spot here is we have already played all the passing teams on the schedule…every one else is more run oriented than pass so things should settle down.The flip side of this is to look at OUR WR’s…size and speed at our WR’s creates mismatches they WE exploit…like I said I say the little man’s day at CB

Monticello Dawg

September 21st, 2009
6:22 pm

To those who think Willie is the worst DC UGA has ever had, you must be too young to remember Kevin Ramsey.

FRED

September 21st, 2009
6:23 pm

DID SOMEONE SAY WERE IS THE PASS RUSH. WELL IT’S THE SAME PLACE IT WAS LAST YEAR IT’S NON-EXISTENCE THE GAME HAS PASSED WILLIE BUY. IT TRULY IS TIME FOR WILLIE TO EITHER RETIRE OR GO TO A SMALL COLLEGE SOMEWARE IN THE MIDWEST. WILLIE IS JUST NOT A BIG TIME COACH. AND THE SOONER WE ALL AGREE ON THAT THE BETTER.

GTDog

September 21st, 2009
6:27 pm

CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? This defense is TERRIBLE! We have to FIRE the DC NOW!!! Don’t even wait until the end of the season!!

Just look at these numbers:

1. 5 (yes FIVE) times giving up over 30 points!
2. 2 (yes TWO) times giving up more than FORTY POINTS!
3. Over the past 13 games giving up more than 12 points per game MORE than the
previous season!
4. More 30+ point defensive efforts in the past year than any other year in memory!
5. A great offense, but the D is keeping us from winning it all.

The fact that the DC is working in youthful/inexperienced players in the secondary is NO EXCUSE! The fact that he has coached some pretty good defenses at this school in the past is NO EXCUSE! He must go……we have to…

…fire CHARLIE STRONG, DC, UF 2007.

I’m nervous about the defensive play at times this year, but it’s a little too early to get hysterical and moaning about how “terrible” things are on defense. The D is making in-gane adjustments better than they have in recent years. The effort of the players is off the charts. Young players are getting needed experience. The O and ST are hurting the D stats SOME. All in all, I’m not satisfied with the performance on the defensive side of the ball thus far. And I believe that we have to do better. But I also know that it’s not realistic to compare WM to Van Gorder. There’s not a DC in college football today who is as good as the man we were so very fortunate to have running the show from 2001-2005.

Patience….that 2007 UF defense grew up, and I believe that the UGA defense will also improve.

southgadawg88

September 21st, 2009
6:33 pm

The problem with the D is something I have been saying since last year…without an elite pass rusher this pass defense will suffer every time we play a team with big WR and a strong arm QB.The corners are too small…period….you take a 5-8 guy and put him on a 6-3 or better guy the little guy will NOT be able to defend a well thrown ball.IMO the age of little corners are over…sure there are exceptional little guys out there that can get it done but they are the exception not the rule.The best on ball defenders we have right now would be Boykin and Smith and they are both smallish themselves…neither has much experience as a fulltime corner so both will make some coverage mistakes as they learn..they do have the athletic ability to fight bigger guys for the ball though but we must upgrade for more size at corner.I’ve been telling folks look at ALA,LSU even Tenn they started going after 6 ft or better corners 2 years ago and now we are behind.The scheme depends on a strong pass rush which we all know has not materialized yet.DE recruitment has been poor the last few seasons as well.C.Washington looks like a player though…give him some time and he and Houston could be effective as a duo…lord help us if we suffer an injury at the position.Busted coverages with wide open WR’s are not to be excused!!I put that on Willie no doubt…but there are too many times where the defenders are there but can’t make a play on the ball.We are left with Jones and Evans looking to make big hits all the time to at least try to intimidate but that’s not going to work enough to have an impact.Watch the games…the kids come up and bump at the LOS but are mostly brushed off by bigger WR and now they are open…play off them and we give up too much cushion and get burned by that..I don’t know what can be done honestly without more pressure.Maybe we can play a safety in nickel instead of a CB..One bright spot here is we have already played all the passing teams on the schedule…every one else is more run oriented than pass so things should settle down.The flip side of this is to look at OUR WR’s…size and speed at our WR’s creates mismatches that WE exploit…like I said the little man’s day at CB is drawing to a close…you got 6-5 6-8 280LB TE’s out here running routes on 6 ft and under CB’s and LB’s?Not much is going to change in that picture.Lemon,Longo,Ball even Toby Jackson(I include him because we were counting on this kid for TWO STRAIGHT years to be our next star DE)We have been coming up short in recruiting DE’s for a while now.I know….fire Willie!!!…more to it than that.

DeputtyDawg

September 21st, 2009
6:36 pm

southgadawg88, did you happen to notice UT’s defense against UF? That was some gooooood defense and the reason that UF didn’t put up 50+ points as some folks suggested before the game was played. I agree with the things that you pointed out and yes, our CBs are quick but not tall enough to defend a good QB – WR combo. Time will tell but this UGA defense has some serious problems. Florida will absolutely abuse UGA this year unless there is a marked improvement in the pass defense. As long as Willie is at UGA there will be no improvement in the defense. Too bad.

newguy

September 21st, 2009
6:42 pm

Maybe we should go ahead and load up on the line and put more pressure on the QB, since our backfield is getting burnt anyway. A three man pass-rush seems like it’s not working. play with the QB’s mind and he will make bad decisions.

savanadawg

September 21st, 2009
6:48 pm

I think Owens is still suffering from the knee. He doesn’t run as well as he did. He didn’t rehab properly and he is way over weight. He more than any other player needs to back up his words, get in the fight, and start making things happen.

savanadawg

September 21st, 2009
6:51 pm

When is the last time we actually confused a QB?? I can’t remember. Damn!

mdawg

September 21st, 2009
6:58 pm

just a couple questions….

1. when is georgia going to have some defensive back with some height?
prince miller and boykin and evans are good. but lets face it. they are to short to cover a 6′3 or a 6′4 receiver when they are 5′10. thats a mismatch no matter how well you execute…. that is CWM fault.
2. dont we have someone else with some height? cant we put one of our tall receivers in a CB and move boykin and prince miller somewhere more suitable?
3. against south carloina i heard that they played soft because they were tired… well does it make a difference in how tired you are if you run a stunt or a corner blitz rather than the zone that they ran? sorry but being tired should not determine your play calling.. you should play every play at 100% no matter what play is called.

fire CWM

savanadawg

September 21st, 2009
7:01 pm

Geez. I don’t have anything better to do so here I go again. All this stuff is fun. This bantering. But seriously we have got to do a better job of recruiting the line of scrimmage players. I really thought our O-line was supposed to be GREAT! and our D-line Awsome. WE AIN’T EVEN CLOSE!!!! I’m not saying we can’t get their, But I havn’t really seen that much improvement each week. DO YOU GUYS HAVE ANY IDEA HOW GOOD WE CAN BE?????? If these guys in the treanches decide they’ve had enough mediocrity WE ARE GOING TO KILL PEOPLE.

Dorsey Hill

September 21st, 2009
7:09 pm

The answer is right there in your write up. When we drop people into coverage the other team’s QB struggles. We know that. The next question is: when can you afford to drop people in coverage? In two different scenarios: 1) when you have a sizable lead and the other team must throw to catch up and running will cost too much clock and 2) when you have an advantage in down and distance so that a first down is a low percentage via the run.

Now what did we see Sat. night? We got killed on 1st and second down when we were playing man coverage and had to protect the box against the run. Arky’s 3rd down percentange was very low. When we played man we played it badly. Evans scorched again, the freshman got beat deep and so did Boykin, all in man coverage.

Also note that when we were ahead by two scores and Arky HAD to throw all of a sudden we had pressure and the QB looked flustered because we had the passing lanes clogged up.

The lesson in all of this is that:

1) we aren’t recruiting well, or

2) we aren’t developing talent well, and

3) we need to quit the stupid turnovers.

4) Its not schematic. It is poor performance, but the offense and PR are not helping with the turnovers.

With Butler punting and Cox and crew lighting up the scoreboard, if we can just not make so many stupid early turnovers I think that magically the defense will look a lot better.

We need to get early leads, control field position and make the other team earn what they get. Our front seven is pretty good, but our DB’s are terrible right now and we can’t make it that easy on the other team. If we are as good on offense in teh first quarter in the next game as we were in the last 3 Sat. night, the defense will all of a sudden look like a good unit.

DeputtyDawg

September 21st, 2009
7:15 pm

Amen, savanadawg. There is a lack of fire in the UGA team. Hey, watch Miami play ball and you’ll see some fire and a genuine desire to get to the qb & backfield. Now I’m not suggesting that the UGA defense has that much speed but if there was a REAL defensive coach for the Dawgs then at LEAST there would be some different looks on each play. Willie does the same crap every play and expects a different result. Remember Albert Eienstein’s definition of insanity? Yup….that’s Willie.

dawgone

September 21st, 2009
7:16 pm

Why not try something like Dowtin at DE. It worked well when we put Marcus Howard there. He seems to be doing alright on Sunday also. I would try anything at this point to get a pass rush. Where are all these DE’s we are signing every year. Either we can’t coach them or we can’t evaluate talent.

T'ville Dawg

September 21st, 2009
7:17 pm

Upside and there is always an upside, we’ve got one heck of a punter, Butler’s a boomer like Kilgo was.

big dawg 89

September 21st, 2009
7:44 pm

all i heard last week is that we HAD to get pressure on the QB. well, rushing 3 or 4 guys obviously isn’t getting it done. and if you can’t pressure the QB, well, you better be able to cover somebody. and if you can’t do either, you’re screwed. and here’s the thing, MARTINEZ IS THE DB’s COACH…and then there’s the kick-off problem, heck, i just assume try an onside kick if the other team is going to start at mid-field everytime…

all that being said, i know that playing the perfect game is very improbable, but i sure would like to see one of these three areas improve…

Lost Dawg

September 21st, 2009
7:58 pm

CMW was a good secondary coach until he became defensive coordinator. Now, he’s doing a half ass job at both. It seems to me that he can’t handle the duty of both jobs. CMW needs one of his former players as a grad assistant to coach the defensive backs.

Patrick

September 21st, 2009
8:04 pm

big dawg 89, you will see no improvement until Willie parts ways with UGA. The Dawgs won Saturday night in spite of the coaches. Joe Cox cannot and will not continue to throw 5 TDs per game and that’s what it seems that UGA needs to win. Defense wins championships and CWM’s defense is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Plenty of quality players on both sides of the ball but sort of like Spurrier commented several years ago, “Georgia recruits a lot a great players but I don’t know what happens to them.” There you go. It’s a lack of coaching and if Richt doesn’t make some changes then he will soon follow Fulmer’s path – dismissed. Fulmer was a good coach but like Richt refused to jettison his underperforming coaching staff. There is a point where sanity trumps loyalty or friendship and it seems that we have reached that point. Fire Martinez and Bobo.

tony

September 21st, 2009
9:21 pm

Mark Richt should have replace Martinez after we lost to West Virginia in the 2005 Sugar Bowl. It’s obvious that Mark Richt doesn’t care how poorly our defense is performing and the outrage coming from the fans concernining Martinez lackluster way of coaching our talentive kids.

If anybody believe that Martinez isn’t to blame for our defense lackluster performance each week need to have their heads examine. I saw how poorly our kids started performing under Martinez half way through the 2004 season. There is a big different between Martinez and VanGorder in the way they coach. It’s too bad that we don’t have a no nonsense type of head coach. It’s really sad.

David Johnson

September 21st, 2009
9:33 pm

Please Fire Willie Martinez………..He doesn’t know what he is doing……..There is no wayout but firing him…….

chazzo

September 21st, 2009
9:34 pm

tybee,
I have noticed we don’t go after punts or field goals. I figure someone would at least sprint in there waving their arms once in a while. It is a little odd.

Kyle T

September 21st, 2009
9:40 pm

I feel sorry to say this……but Coach Richt should fire Willie Martinez………Enough is Enough!!!!!!!!

swhite1115

September 21st, 2009
9:47 pm

Some interesting comments. Thanks to all of you who make constructive comments. My biggest concern over the past several years has been in the inability of the defensive players to tackle properly. Runners seem to easily escape the “grasp” of Georgia defenders with alarming regularity, turning potential losses into three or four yard gains…or worse. A little emphasis on the fundamentals would be nice. That being said, way to go Joe Cox! What a game!!!

southgadawg88

September 21st, 2009
9:47 pm

Actually we should be fine against spread run teams like Fla…the small quick DB is an asset going against their small guys in space.Like I said when you look at the schedule LSU,FLA,Tenn,AUB and GT are running teams first pass second so we should tighten up on D but I say it’s more to do with their offensive schemes than our improvement in pass coverage.Kids have the ability to improve to be sure yet I feel better knowing we don’t have any more big arm QB’s with several big wide outs to work with left to face.

swhite1115

September 21st, 2009
9:51 pm

Oh, and Tony and some of you others…we appreciate your passion, but there’s this thing called “editing” that you might want to check out. There’s nothing quite so amusing as to see you call Martinez or Richt “a idiot” or to see your comments rife with spelling and grammar errors.
Years ago I saw a great cartoon that fits this blog. The scene was from the football stands looking down at the field. The coach was turned around to the stands pointing at a guy. “You!” the coach was yelling, “with all the advice. YOU go in for Kowalski.” It’s easy to say all this stuff from the sidelines. It’s quite another to BE on the actual sidelines coaching 75 or 80 young men.

pete g

September 21st, 2009
9:55 pm

Enter your comments here play man D and rush everybody else

pete g

September 21st, 2009
9:55 pm

Enter your comments here

Cuz

September 21st, 2009
10:12 pm

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high.
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.

Wishing on rainbows aint going to change defensive coordinators. It just won’t happen in mid season. Give up and move to another subject. Like blackouts! Yeah baby!

dawgstephen

September 21st, 2009
10:50 pm

What do bama fans and maggots have in common??

Both live years on a dead bear.

Sea Island

September 21st, 2009
11:17 pm

Miss Saint Simons,

Please don’t forget to pick up my dry cleaning.

Signed,

Sea Island

33-17

AZDawg5

September 22nd, 2009
12:16 am

Coach Bozo has got to be loving all of the focus on Willie Vanille….talk about flying under the radar for the moment….This week against a very average Hack 10 Devils team should seal the fate of both these knuckle heads for the balance of the season….

Buckskin

September 22nd, 2009
4:46 am

Willie, Willie needs to go! We need a fired up DC that can motivate the best out of players. Where can we find the next Eric Russell – he was a motivator.