UGA coaches tackle nagging problem

Coach Warren Belin wants to know where these guys learned to tackle. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Coach Warren Belin wants to know where these guys learned to tackle. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

It wasn’t as big a factor as turnovers, but the Dogs have been plagued the past couple of seasons by poor tackling.

Flipping through some of my little game notebooks from last year, a frequent theme crops up: “Missed tackle.” “Poor tackling.”

Too often you saw Georgia defenders try to make a tackle from a bad angle or not wrap their arms and stick their heads into the chest of the ball carrier and drive them down. And then there were those awful occasions where they didn’t even really try to make an actual tackle, just hitting or bumping the guy as if that would make him fall down.

There’d be some improvement from game to game, but overall it was a team weakness under Willie Martinez’s staff, a point made this week in practice by coach Warren Belin in a quote that has lit up the blogosphere: “Where did you guys learn to tackle the last five years?”

Ouch. You know Mark Richt had to wince when he saw that reported. I’m guessing that’s one of the reasons why head coaches generally only let the media have limited access to practice.

Fans, of course, react differently. You can’t fix a problem unless you acknowledge it, and it’s encouraging to hear someone addressing the situation head on.

And that’s the good news from all this: The new coaches appear to be trying to do something about it.

Fletcher Page reports in his practice notes on DawgPost.com that it “seems like the defensive coaches are determined to get Georgia tackling better. Coach Warren Belin has been especially adamant about driving through the ball carrier … There has been added emphasis put on proper tackling technique. Coach [Scott] Lakatos likes physicality in the secondary. We know coach [Todd] Grantham is all about it as well. The staff is working from the ground up, developing proper technique and fundamentals first. Belin, I’ve especially noticed, is meticulous about the little things. He preaches proper helmet placement, driving through the ball, proper way to wrap up while driving, etc. This type of conversation should excite Bulldogs fans.”

That’s an understatement.

NO EXCUSES FOR DOGS IN 2010?

CollegeFootballNews.com’s spring preview of Georgia notes that the Dogs “have to find more explosion and more production on offense” and the big spring question is “can the defense be more aggressive?” The most important question, they say, is who will start at quarterback, noting “in a perfect world, this is figured out and settled on as soon as possible.”

But CFN’s overall assessment of Georgia’s prospects sees a lot of potential this season: “No excuses. Georgia isn’t as talented as Florida, but it’s easily the second best team in the [SEC] East and it has the schedule to do some very big things. While there’s a lot of work to be done and there are a lot of concerns, the schedule is too light to ask for anything less than a big season with the toughest road games at South Carolina and Auburn. The Dawgs miss Alabama and LSU from the West and get Arkansas, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech at home. Again, no excuses.”

What do you think? On the money, or too optimistic?

144 comments Add your comment

Saint Simons

March 24th, 2010
11:02 am

gt 6 uga 5 !!!!!! hahahahahahahahahahaha

DawgNation

March 24th, 2010
11:10 am

30-24 glad it still hurts

Great news out of spring practice Bill. That is what those players have needed to hear all along.

SOGADOG

March 24th, 2010
11:12 am

“Where did you guys learn to tackle the last five years?” Kudos to Coach Belin for diagnosing one of the main problems with UGA’s defense since Van Gorder departed. We have had great players on defense who were undercoached. I respect coaches like Coach Belin who tell it like it is.

murfdawg

March 24th, 2010
11:14 am

Evidently, Coach Belin watched the film of the GT game in 08. I have been watching UGA football for over 40 years and that was the worst excuse ever for a defense. I hope he gets this corrected and we can play like real “Junkyard Dawgs”.

Not Saint Simons

March 24th, 2010
11:18 am

30-24 hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

Agreed – without fundamentals, all the talent and passion in the world can’t win ballgames.

Otto

March 24th, 2010
11:24 am

The defense would have won a few more games if they had just finished the tackle. The offense would have won a few more games had they had not turned it over or relied on the big play. If you can control the clock with long drives the defense has fewer chances to blow it.

GT ‘07 was the worst example of finishing a tackle as well as the worst production on offense I have watched in a long time.

There is no reason why the WLOCP shouldn’t decide the SEC East other than coaches not getting the players ready.

Bremen Dawgs

March 24th, 2010
11:25 am

You would have to be blind to not notice that we could not tackle very well.

The defensive will be much better, right that down. No excuses, we should be able to compete for the East because of the strong O line.

The D

March 24th, 2010
11:25 am

On the MONEY. We DAWG fans get ridiculed for expecting too much, but with this schedule we should have an 8 to 11 win season!!!

PMC

March 24th, 2010
11:33 am

WOW, This is EXACTLY what needed to be addressed. How can you not feel good about the way Coach Belin is handling things.

Helmet Placement is one reason the Georgia Secondary members got a few 15 yard penalties for good hits.

They have been avoiding issues for the last several years. It seems that they are addressing those rather obvious descrepancies now. This is Awesome.

Doc Reem

March 24th, 2010
11:42 am

Tell it like it is Belin!!!

chipperdawg

March 24th, 2010
11:42 am

Been a LONG time coming!!! Love what we’re hearing from this new defensive coaching staff!

HBTD

March 24th, 2010
11:44 am

Like what I’m reading related to the new defensive coaches addressing the issue of tackling which has been obvious to everyone.

Hopefully, they’ve got someone who can also address the kick off coverage issues that we’ve seen over the last several years.

Raise The Bar

March 24th, 2010
11:48 am

From Nick Williams, who is moving back to safety:

“He’s (Lakatos) big on putting your face in there and striking people. He’s a very aggressive coach,” Williams said. “He’s about being aggressive; he’s about setting a tone. It ain’t about laying back. If you’re going to catch a touchdown pass on us, you’re going to pay for it and I love that about him.”

Lakatos’ hands-on approach is winning favor with players like Williams as well.

“I love that about him, and I like how he coaches me,” he said. “It’s different than last year. He’s hands on. He’ll get on you, but when he gets on you he gets on you in a respectful manner. He’ll get on you hard but it’s just about football.”

The more I read, the more obvious it is that Martinez was slack and there were many fundamental problems with the ‘D’. I still can’t believe Richt gave that guy another year! Are we going through the same thing with Bobo as well as the conditioning coach???

SimonsIsNoSaint

March 24th, 2010
11:49 am

30-24 and 73-66. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!! Glad it still hurts.

As for defense, I like what I’m hearing about these new coaches. It was time for new ideas and new philosophy. Bring back the Junkyard Dawgs!!! Let’s shutdown our nemesis from south of the border.

[...] UGA’s new 3-4 defense.5.  New linebackers coach Warren Belin asked his players in practice, “Where did you guys learn to tackle the last five years?”  (Bet Georgia’s ousted assistants will love hearing that.)6.  Mark Richt is “pretty [...]

GO GATAH

March 24th, 2010
11:55 am

I’m glad they are actually COACHING. This is Great news!

Raise The Bar

March 24th, 2010
11:56 am

I’m with ESPN on this one. Time to get some big impressive wins from these highly touted recruits…seems like we will with the positive shakeup in the coaching staff. Coach ‘em up!!!

Are you taking notes, Bobo???

frankly

March 24th, 2010
12:13 pm

“I’m with ESPN on this one”

You mean you’re with CFN and so am I. My only disagreement is that Florida is more talented. I don’t buy it. It’ll be interesting to see where Florida players are drafted and compare it to UGA draft totals by round drafted for the last 3-4 years. And with as many new faces as Florida will have, how do they know this?

Just messin wit you

March 24th, 2010
12:15 pm

Richt was asleep at the wheel for allowing willie to do as he pleases. If Bobo the clown has another year like the last couple, CMR either fires him or goes.

DOG FAN

March 24th, 2010
12:15 pm

i have heard that mett is really got control of the offense if he wins it would murry be willing to play other positions as well as rotating qbs.

frankly yes

March 24th, 2010
12:17 pm

Florida is more talented. When will you clowns stop comparing where Florida players are drafted to what they do to you in the yearly beat down. Did you hire CMR to put players in the pro’s or to win championships.

DawgBuzz

March 24th, 2010
12:17 pm

murfdawg – sounds like Coach Belin DID see the 08 GT game highlights – worst excuse for tackling….a defense that instead of wrapping up the runner tried to just “bump” the runner off his feet. We all know how that turned out. I like the defensive staff this year. GO Dawgs!

frankly

March 24th, 2010
12:17 pm

Raise The Bar – “The more I read, the more obvious it is that Martinez was slack and there were many fundamental problems with the ‘D’.”

Ummmm did you happen to catch any of the games. Thats what should have made it obvious.

DOG FAN

March 24th, 2010
12:20 pm

ga runs a pro style offense and mett is 6′5″ 230lb with a rocket arm

Andy

March 24th, 2010
12:20 pm

I think we have reason to be optimistic, and this schedule is about as light as it gets in the SEC East, but there are still a lot of opportunities to lose. I am particularly worried about the S. Carolina game. It’s always too close and can go either way, though we have been fortunate to come out on top more often than not. I am particularly concerned about an untested QB facing the perennially tough SC defense. Hopefully they won’t be as good as last year, and hopefully our O-line will step up and make some holes for our running game, to take the pressure off the new QB. That will be an early challenge, and there will be several lose-able games throughout the season. I don’t think we should take any SEC conference game lightly, even Vandy.

Craig

March 24th, 2010
12:20 pm

Agree with no excuses…..my question is how come coach richt never acknowledged it or did anything about it???? if its that glaring it begs to question WHY??

frankly

March 24th, 2010
12:20 pm

“Florida is more talented. When will you clowns stop comparing where Florida players are drafted to what they do to you in the yearly beat down. Did you hire CMR to put players in the pro’s or to win championships.”

I’ll type slowly so that maybe you can understand it. Since NFL drafts for talent above anything else, it is indicative the general talent level of the program. The point being that we haven’t been getting beatdown because of lack of talent. got it genious?

mexdawg

March 24th, 2010
12:21 pm

Somewhere up there BLOODY ERK RUSSEL is smiling and saying it’s about time.Now GATA and LET THE BIG DAWG EAT.

frankly yes

March 24th, 2010
12:22 pm

frankly, if it isnt because of talent then who is the geniouses for keeping these worthless coaches around?

JMart

March 24th, 2010
12:22 pm

Grantham, Belin, Lakatos…. I’d say Richt DID do something about it.

SOFLA/LOWNDES COUNTY DAWG

March 24th, 2010
12:23 pm

PUT THEM GAYTORS IN THE DIRT AND TAKE BACK THE CONFEDERATE FLAG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

frankly yes

March 24th, 2010
12:24 pm

One more question genious; do you want NFL talent or college talent, Stafford has NFL talent and Tebow college talent?

Gratefuldawghead

March 24th, 2010
12:24 pm

That’s why Martinez has a clip board carrier postion with OK!

AceDawg

March 24th, 2010
12:27 pm

Sounds right to me. UGA should be a top tier team with the program continuity under Richt, high level recruiting, and a new NFL tested coach on defense. At the extreme minimum, UGA would have to be as good on defense and better on offense than the year before if there is any hope at all to Richt remaining the right guy for the head job. A new quarterback shouldn’t stop offensive progression with everything in place and acknowledgement that our young QB’s are supposed to be better than Cox anyway.

Eat It Saint Simons

March 24th, 2010
12:28 pm

30-24!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
8 out of 9!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
73-66!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Raise The Bar

March 24th, 2010
12:29 pm

Frankly…I was all about firing Martinez two years ago. What I meant by my ‘obvious’ statement is that what many suspected all along is now being confirmed by statements the players and the new coaches are making. But I guess we’ll really be able to tell this fall.

AceDawg

March 24th, 2010
12:30 pm

Frankly though, it is the defense where things must turn around for the team to be a contender again. If they improve the way Dawgs fans think they are going to under Grantham, it’ll make the offene tougher too since they have to hit shoulder pads all season in practice and will be forced to be tougher to counter the aggressive, better executing defense. Better coaching means more to UGA than losing some veterans on defense because of the fact that UGA recruits major athletes.

DOG FAN

March 24th, 2010
12:30 pm

i would like to know washaun weight he looks much bigger than last year

Really?

March 24th, 2010
12:31 pm

Anybody else find this quote from collegefootballnews.com a bit strange?

“The offense isn’t likely to be consistent with so many new players in key spots, and the defense has to provide as much help as possible.”

How can you report on a team and actually not research the team you are reporting on. UGA is bringing back 10 of 11 starters on offense and plenty of experienced depth on offense. So how is bringing back all starters but one viewed as having so many new players in key spots on offense?

GATA Dawgs!

March 24th, 2010
12:33 pm

What’s going to happen with tackling by Oklahoma’s secondary???

DCJohn

March 24th, 2010
12:33 pm

We need a more explosive offense? Our offense was prety explosive last year. We either threw up points or threw up on ourselves. Exploded the scoreboard or imploded on ourselves. We had a lot of points over the season, but we also had a lot of mistakes. We don’t need more explosions. We need to run the ball.

Every year I’ve been alive I’ve been told you need two things to win in the SEC: run the ball and stop the run. Explosions only get you on the good and bad highlight reels.

DawgBuzz

March 24th, 2010
12:35 pm

Andy – the S. Carolina game is going to be a real test. Seems it is always close and having a green QB in there against a SC defense that is quick and talented will let everyone know how prepared we are. I hope the running game is up to par ( unlike the Ok. State game last year ). Should be low scoring. I think our defense will be the deciding factor. Go Dawg!

Really?

March 24th, 2010
12:40 pm

DCJohn – agreed, it is obvious the guy that wrote the article for collegefootballnews.com has no idea what is going on at UGA.

Andy

March 24th, 2010
12:41 pm

Amen DawgBuzz. It also seems to me that we sometimes start off the season a little clueless, and we take a few games before we start clicking on all cylinders, the OK State game being a perfect example. Hopefully we’ll be as prepared as we can be.

Preston

March 24th, 2010
12:43 pm

Good defense or bad defense…we still OWN tech. LOL!!! Always have, always will. LOL!!!

Unforgiving

March 24th, 2010
12:46 pm

Since Mark Richt has been head coaches, who many SEC teams have won national championships. I know the dawgs are not one and I find that disturbing.

We all knew this ........so we WILL correct it

March 24th, 2010
12:46 pm

The coach’s statement is 100% correct. Yechie fans knew this in 08 in Athens, when now departed
( TG&GHG) UGA safety #09 blew tackle after tackle along with 40% of the UGA D that day. That same year in a win vs Auburn, UGA was very, very lucky to win ………. lousy tackling UGA employed in that game. Too many other games to name over the last few years.

That is in the past and now is now and UGA with this new D. staff will be a fundamentally SOUND team from stem to stern. If not …………….well then, we can correct that as well.

Identify the problem, solve it and move forward is the way to run a railroad and a football team and UGA is on the right track, now.

Respect is a huge part of this transition period and the fans already RESPECT the new coaches and I suspect that so do the players. When UGA wins big games consistently, the respect will be also from our overall conference. Time will tell. The ingredients are there ….talent, attitude, schedule and personal pride.

Go Dogs.

Unforgiving

March 24th, 2010
12:46 pm

Since Mark Richt has been head coache, how many SEC teams have won national championships. I know the dawgs are not one and I find that disturbing………sorry about the typos

Preston

March 24th, 2010
12:47 pm

DawgBuzz, I don’t see us having a problem with the running game even early in the season. Both of our RB’s went through their growing pains the first half of last season. And with a freshman QB, that’s a beautiful thing. UGA could really surprise some folks this year. We’ll see.

Preston

March 24th, 2010
12:48 pm

Unforgiving, UF,UA, and LSU. Ours is coming soon if Grantham is the real deal.