Grantham’s aggressive style pleases this Dawg fan

Todd Grantham is saying all the right things so far. (Dallas Morning News)

Todd Grantham is saying all the right things so far. (Dallas Morning News)

Like most UGA fans, I’ve been closely parsing Todd Grantham’s initial words about his defensive plans for the Dogs, and so far I like what I hear.

Now, granted, in the recent past there’s often been a disconnect between what we hear and what we end up seeing on the field. Remember all the talk last summer about Joe Cox’s accuracy and how Bryan Evans was coming into his own at safety?

And while the lion’s share of the focus is likely to be on Grantham’s plans to go with three defensive linemen and four linebackers, instead of the opposite under Willie Martinez, the scheme wasn’t always the problem under Martinez. Too often, the Dogs showed poor fundamentals when it came to tackling and getting off blocks. I’m anxious to see how that (hopefully) improves under Grantham.

But what I particularly liked, though, was Grantham’s very first promise in the prepared statement UGA released announcing his hiring: “To the fans and boosters of the University of Georgia, I understand the passion and standard of excellence expected. I look forward to developing an aggressive, physical, attacking style defense that offenses will not look forward to playing against.”

I wanted to jump to my feet and holler “Hallelujah!”

As Gen. George Patton once said, “Nobody ever defended anything successfully; there is only attack and attack and attack some more.”

One of the most frustrating things about the Georgia defense under Martinez was its soft zones and read-and-react philosophy. Too often, the reading took so long that the reaction came too late. Thus a team like Tennessee could take a simple offensive plan like play-action and devastate the Georgia defense.

It was notable that when the makeshift defensive staff simplified the schemes and reduced the number of reads for the Independence Bowl game, the defense played much better.

And don’t get me started on the way Martinez’s defense often left the middle of the field wide open — a real problem if there wasn’t much pressure on the quarterback.

Now, I’m not expecting miracles from Grantham in his first season. Georgia will have back six of the 11 defensive players who started the bowl game, so there’ll be an experience gap in addition to learning new schemes.

But the new defensive coordinator’s emphasis on a Nick Saban-style attacking defense that rushes the passer constantly and puts a premium on busting into the backfield quickly to disrupt the offense makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s just how I like to see the game played, and it’s obviously done wonders for Saban.

I’m also encouraged that Grantham sounds flexible. One of the most frequent complaints I heard about Martinez was that he tried to play his base defense no matter what the other team was doing, and he was slow to adjust. Says Grantham: “We’re always going to match personnel or have the ability to match personnel, meaning if someone adds a third wideout in the game, we can add an extra DB in the game. We could end up playing multiple fronts out of that nickel package whether it be four down or three down and kind of go that route.”

I would assume that also means that if a team has a strong inside running game, the offensive attack that the 3-4 alignment is most vulnerable to, Grantham will adjust accordingly.

Another thing the new DC said Friday that pleased me was that he likes to evaluate his players “one through 50″ and “find a way to get your top players on the field, because to be an aggressive attacking style of defense and to make plays, you have got to have playmakers.” I would hope that would mean we wouldn’t see any more situations like this past season, where a defensive player continued to start long after it was obvious his backup was better.

What also caught my eye was Grantham saying “what you want as a defense, after the game is over [is] the team you just played are so happy they don’t have to play you anymore. In order to do that I think it takes great conditioning and I think it takes great preparation.” I’m wondering how all the questions about the effectiveness of Georgia’s conditioning program (which Buck Belue cited as one of the supposed reasons Kirby Smart turned the job down) will play into that. If there’s an aspect of the program that Mark Richt still needs to address besides overall discipline, it’s probably strength and conditioning.

But that’s a discussion for another day. Right now visions of stunts and blitzes and sacks and fumbles are dancing in my head, and I’m ready to see the old “GATA” slogan that Richt cited Friday once again become the ruling mindset Between the Hedges!

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331 comments Add your comment

AugDawg

January 16th, 2010
12:33 pm

Scott Lakatos has been hired as secondary coach apparently. He held the same position at UCONN. Check out his track record on UCONN website before doubting him. Pretty solid hire looks like. Pass defenses have been great where he was.

Coach Richt, Wild at Heart

January 16th, 2010
12:37 pm

Here’s a 2009 attitude video:

Georgia beats Tech 2009 highlight video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-zZ_qIJ3aQ&feature=related

YoungDawg

January 16th, 2010
12:42 pm

I love hearing Grantham say “evaluate our player’s one through 50 and find a way to get your top players on the field, because to be an aggressive attacking style of defense and to make plays, you have got to have playmakers.” That was the problem with CWM as David Pollack tweeted we had the guys to run the 3-4 last season but NO CWM stuck with the “do what we do” philosophy. Nothing wrong with that if you have the players to do it but if injuries or other factors lead to your personnel being better suited for something different then you do that! Being multiple on offense & defense gives you the opportunity to change the way you’re playing as needed. For example on O we have the ability to go one back, 2 or 3 WRs & 1-3 TEs or stay in the I, or go to a spread pro based O etc. On D CWM used situational changes & tried blitzes but wouldn’t change base formations to best suit the current state of the D. Given the quote I think Grantham will be more flexible but will stay true to his scheme by always being aggressive no matter how the personnel is deployed. That means he’ll get our best 11 defenders on the field & GATA! GO DAWGS!

Coach Richt, Wild at Heart

January 16th, 2010
12:45 pm

Here’s a 2007 video from the Georgia Bama game where we beat Saban in Tuscaloosa:

Georgia Beats Bama in Tuscaloosa Youtube Highlight Video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjlYv1O-yDc&feature=PlayList&p=444B040729DD20DD&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=33

old- dog

January 16th, 2010
12:50 pm

Bill,every thing you brought up is dead on what the problem has been. Most dawg fans have been asking the same question for 3 years. My next question is does Grantham have the depth to make the changes. I hope Richt doesn’t have to raid the offense to provide enough fast skilled players. The Freshmen quarterbacks are going to need all the protection they can get until they they get enough playing time and experience. To bad they didn’t get that playing time in 2009 season,even though both had entered school early.

Dawg 3/20

January 16th, 2010
12:51 pm

Where’s the video of that 2007 South Carolina game, can you give me a link to that one?

AltamahaDawg

January 16th, 2010
12:54 pm

You seriously thought the defense play “much better” in the independance bowl? And you specifically could tell that was from a simplified game plan? Interesting. I would say our defense had several games where they played better last season than that, against better teams. And inexplicable worse than that on others, but its questionable if that was due to an overly complicated plan.. And I doubt that this NFL coach is really bringing simplicity to town. The 3-4 to me seems more complicated if anything.

And Joe Cox didnt struggle with accuracy. He just didnt always make the best decision. To be fair, nobody ever told us he could carry the team on his shoulders. If you want to talk about broken promises, how about the one about having a competant O-line going in?

And B. Evans, well, …….he seemed like a nice young man.

I will say one thing for this Grantham guy, he takes directions well. Richt handed him a piece of paper that said “use the word agressive, and bring up blitzing 3 times” before he took the pondium.

But I think its going to be more a matter of energy and attitude. BVG didnt run anything close to what Grantham is describing.

shannon1776

January 16th, 2010
12:54 pm

GATA (Get after their asses))

Jerry J.

January 16th, 2010
1:02 pm

From Americas Team to a Second Tier Team.

Jerry J.

January 16th, 2010
1:02 pm

From Americas Team to a Second Tier Team.

Bremen Dawg

January 16th, 2010
1:02 pm

I think Mark Richt is making the adjustments needed to bring UGA back.

1eyedJack

January 16th, 2010
1:12 pm

Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate. – Vince Lombardi

I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious. – Vince Lombardi

Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things – blocking and tackling. – Vince Lombardi

If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat. – Herschel Walker

My God given talent is my ability to stick with training longer than anybody else. – Herschel Walker

And finally one for the Techsters:

A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. – Vince Lombardi

WHopper Dawg

January 16th, 2010
1:19 pm

Looking forward to not having 1/4 Willie on the side line next year. If Grantham can hold’em to 20 points per game, that will be a vast improvement. He does have a LOT of work to do. I wish him well.

Interesting in retrospect, how bad 1/4 Willie really was. Note that he hasn’t landed another position yet.

TXDAWG

January 16th, 2010
1:21 pm

Frankly ,I don’t give a damn what you Tech nerds think of our coach or our program. Richt is going to rebuild it. You may want to focus on your own program, which hasn’t been stellar over the last few years. One year out of many does not constitute a dynasty.

GATA

January 16th, 2010
1:23 pm

Buck is an idiot and has no connections anymore, please don’t use him as a reference.

3-4 Defense Ravens Highlight Video

January 16th, 2010
1:25 pm

What the Ravens defense does to great QB’s is unbeliebvable. The Ravens crushed Brady. Key to the 3-4 is getting to the QB and altering the QB launch pad.

http://www.baltimoreravens.com/media_library/Videos/2010/01/NFL_Network_WK_18_Ravens_defense_highlights.aspx?id=75e18e6bd88342009153f90faaa3bc7f

MBA

January 16th, 2010
1:37 pm

Borrowing an old joke:
Do you know why Paul Johnson’s wife serves his cereal on a plate?

Because if she puts it in a bowl he will lose it.

Bubba

January 16th, 2010
1:40 pm

Great column, Bill. You’re right: It all sounds good, now he’s just got to make it happen. But the philosophy is exactly what the doctor ordered.

HardTruthSoldier...

January 16th, 2010
1:42 pm

I hope he won’t be like Willie, who kept his homeboy Brian Evans on the field way past his time!

Vinings Dawg

January 16th, 2010
1:45 pm

We have paid a lot of money to someone who has never been a coordinator, never coached in college. I hope we have not overpaid. I think he can do the job but it will take time because we don’t have the personnel to run the 3-4.

shane#1

January 16th, 2010
1:47 pm

I thought about the 3-4 last summer, even suggesting that D on these blogs. I could not think of a good nose guard in UGA’s stable of DTs so I let the idea drop. Now I think that Geathers could be utilized at NG and possibly Harmon could be switched back to defense. Arby Jones has the frame to add more weight and could be a possibilty. Bill mentioned that a strong running game could move the ball against the 3-4, that is why NG is the key to that defense. The LBs get all the glory in the 3-4, but it’s that big ugly on the Center’s nose that drives the wagon. I was not one of the mob screaming for Willies head on a pole, but he lost tons of credibility with me in the UT game. I saw a 5′9″CB staring into the UT backfield and letting a WR run right by him. UT had some strong, physical running backs, I don’t know what in the hell Boykin thought he would do with one of those RBs if he caught him. The 3-4 is a good D with so many teams using some kind of spread formations in todays CFB and should be successful, if a quality NG can be found.

Grantham Dallas Highlight Video

January 16th, 2010
1:48 pm

Grantham has really had the Dallas Cowboys sacking offenses, wreaking havoc.

Dallas Cowboys 2009 Defense Highlights:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpJ76UzA2W4&feature=related

HardTruthSoldier...

January 16th, 2010
1:51 pm

You Tech Fans that continue to hold on to that ‘08 win, remind me of the kid who was cool in H.S., but later became nothing. He holds on to yesterday because he knows tomorrow brings nothing. Your 1-8 against UGA this decade please let it go. Oh I forgot you can’t because theres nothing to look forward to. A MEDIOCRE UGA team beat you in 09. 2010 will watch you Sissssssssy’s have a complete meltdown!

Pit Bull

January 16th, 2010
1:52 pm

I think he was a coordinator for two years with the Browns.

#1 Ga Tech fan!

January 16th, 2010
1:55 pm

Oh yeah, wait and see Dawg, we are going to sting you good in 2010! BUZZZZZZ for ever and ever!!!!!

HardTruthSoldier...

January 16th, 2010
1:55 pm

Thanks to this move of coach Gratham, UGA should be a lock to get Whitaker out of Warner Robbins, and Thorton out of Stephenson H.S. Numbers 10, and 11 on rivals top 100 overall!

HardTruthSoldier...

January 16th, 2010
1:57 pm

There wasn’t any Buzzzzzzz on North Ave in November, and ya’ll didn’t even have wings in Miami!

Pitbull

January 16th, 2010
1:58 pm

You’re right Buzz, I got stung a few weeks ago by a yellow jacket and it STUNG. I’m scaried of those pesky little critters!

#1 Ga Tech fan!

January 16th, 2010
1:59 pm

Ya’ll make me so damn mad. I just want to Buzz and Buzz and sting you good!

Pitbull

January 16th, 2010
2:01 pm

We are sorry Buzz, don’t get to excited now, we don’t want you to wet your pants again!

HardTruthSoldier...

January 16th, 2010
2:03 pm

Vining Dawg, Sorry must Disagree with you, the speed we have at the LB position is amazing, and some of the youth got big time game experience. this 3-4 is designed to be blitz friendly and bring LB’s and DB’s from all angles. Watch Dallas tomorrow and you’ll get an idea of what it looks like!

HardTruthSoldier...

January 16th, 2010
2:07 pm

#1Ga Tech fan, Get a Buzzzzz off of this, 30-24, 8-1, 73-66 in BB. We own ya’ll Sissssssssy’s!

Paul's Johnson

January 16th, 2010
2:09 pm

One clarification. Suntan’s too good to use the “GATA” slogan. He prefers “GATB”. And secondly, you guys just paid one of the highest salaries in the country for a guy who seems to be a quality coach, but has never coordinated a defense at the college level and has been basically a career d-line coach. I’m glad ya’ll are so excited, because the hunt is over. Now its the season for spin. And more spin. And still more spin. Good luck with that boys.

SOUTHGADAWG88

January 16th, 2010
2:10 pm

I saw where Grantham said he would look at the talent and rank it 1-50 and get the best players on the field.I can’t go 50 deep but I figured I’d take a stab at my own top 20.I’m sure a few of the freshmen will impact this list by September but as far as who we have right now here goes..

1.Boykin-Could be AA in 10
2.Houston-Blossoming star
3.Dowtin-Will have all SEC year
4.Rambo-Looks ready to shine in 10
5.Smith-Heading for break out year at CB
6.Washington-May end up no 1 on the list by Dec
7.Gamble-Up to 265 I hear…has talent should be stout inside
8.Tyson-Earned playing time with 3 NFL prospects ahead of him
9.Dent-Injured most of season.Toughness was missed.made impact in games played.
10.Dobbs-solid player..nothing flashy but smart and plays hard and sound.
11.C.Robinson-Aggressive…moves well…surprised me this year…looks ready to play
12.Cuff-Like Dobbs…solid nothing flashy
13.M.Robinson-Has potential.if he gets his head on straight we have a player.
14.Wood-This kid has talent and burst…undersized but effective…
15.Williams-Haven’t found his place yet…new scheme could be good for him
16.Cummings-Big physical corner…should see a lot of PT
17.Gillard-Made plays on special teams
18.Jones-Got in on some snaps at DT as well.solid prospect
19.Tripp-What do we do with Kiante?Hope we figure it out this season.
20.Hebron-Injured most of career..hear he’s healthy…could be fresh start.

Well that’s my best assessment I was tempted to put Geathers in the top 20 but I wanted to focus on the kids who got some playing time last season.When you toss him in there with Samuel(maybe) and some of these heralded recruits this list could be totally different by Dec as I said.What you guys think…Who’s too high?too low?

HardTruthSoldier...

January 16th, 2010
2:11 pm

Ga State gets a 80,000 seat stadium, and the ACC(American Crybaby Conference) champions has less than 50,000. What does that say sissssssy’s!

Tech Buzz

January 16th, 2010
2:12 pm

Tech’s option game will burn the Ga blitz package—I’m not worried. Tech beats Ga easy in 2010–bank on it.

3-4 Nosetackle Possibility for Georgia

January 16th, 2010
2:16 pm

Warner Robins Georgia Jeffrey Whitaker is set to visit Georgia last, on Jan 22. He’s about 6′ 3”, 300 lbs, a great possibility for the nosetackle that Grantham needs.

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/recruiting/player-Jeffrey-Whitaker-72796

HardTruthSoldier...

January 16th, 2010
2:16 pm

Went the school with new UT coach, man if he is as smooth with the Recruits as he was with the Lady’s the SEC is in trouble!

HardTruthSoldier...

January 16th, 2010
2:19 pm

Tech Buzz, Ya’ll banked on it all the way to a 30-24 meltdown at home. Ithink I like your chances in 2010. Not!

3-4 Nosetackle Possibility for Georgia

January 16th, 2010
2:23 pm

Kwame Geathers, 6-5, 300lbs +. His brother got to the NFL and played for Georgia. Kwame led his team to a state championship. Defensive MVP of the All-American game. Big upside. Already signed letter of intent. Loves Georgia, bleeds red & black. This guy is a freak of nature in a good way. Very tough to block.

http://www.georgiadogs.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=8800&ATCLID=3674644

cookieman

January 16th, 2010
2:24 pm

I like singular for gata, get after that ass.

Troup Dawg

January 16th, 2010
2:25 pm

All I can say is HOT DAMN!! AND PASS THE CHICKEN!! Sounds as though we have found a real D coach. I know how words and phrases can get us in to trouble ( hope and change ) but I just have a gut feeling on this guy from how those Cowboys play. Mean!!

I’m soo thankful to hear of his grading scale as well!! No more of this “loyalty to the program” BS..But more more of “who are my play makers and get get them on the field”. That is also a very strong motivation environment to require performance each and every day on the field as well as the practice field. No more “I’m a 5th yr Sr so my start is a guarantee…”.If you gonna play you gotta pay!!”….. GATA!! ……..Erk Russell may ride again!!

SOUTHGADAWG88

January 16th, 2010
2:25 pm

Kwame may end up at LT

James

January 16th, 2010
2:25 pm

I’m a Tech fan, and I’m excited to see UGA and Tech both going at it with new DC’s next year. It’ll be interesting if they both are still running 3-4 at that point in the season–and to see how the 3-4 does against the option.

One other thing: “Nerd Central…” is not a Tech fan. He is being sarcastic. Stop responding to him like he’s serious. And to “HardTruth”: they may play there, but I wouldn’t call the Dome GA State’s stadium. It will be interesting to see how many people come to games–the school itself has tons of students but most are non-traditional.

Kwame Geathers, 3-4 Nosetackle

January 16th, 2010
2:31 pm

Geathers is on the Georgia roster. He’s put on about 25 lbs in the last 18 months and grown an inch.

6′ 6”, 326 Lbs. WOW!

http://www.georgiadogs.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=40675&SPID=3571&DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=8800&ATCLID=204790651&Q_SEASON=2010

Buzz

January 16th, 2010
2:31 pm

You’re right James, give’em hell! Buzzzzzzzzz Buzzzz buzzz, STING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SOUTHGADAWG88

January 16th, 2010
2:34 pm

6-6 is too tall for a run stuffing DT

south

January 16th, 2010
2:34 pm

Vinnings Dawg -

What are you talking about- he was DC for the Browns for 3 years and he coached in college inder Beamer at VT and Saban at Mich St.

He is more than qualified for the position.

UGAgrad71

January 16th, 2010
2:36 pm

This is for all the bugs on this blog, UGA is ranked 9th in one recruiting source, the bugs 43rd from the same source. I will take UGA’s talent over what the bugs have any day. Go crawl back under your rocks and fiddle your “stinger”.

UGAgrad71

January 16th, 2010
2:40 pm

I remember Marcus Stroud was 6′6″. Was he too tall?