Good news on pass defense: We be jammin’

Secondary coach Scott Lakatos is teaching a more aggressive style of pass defense. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Secondary coach Scott Lakatos is teaching a more aggressive style of pass defense. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

One by one, the new defensive staff at UGA appears to be addressing the most frequent complaints heard from fans over the past few seasons.

For those who thought Willie Martinez didn’t call enough blitzes (he actually called a fair number, they just weren’t successful all that often), Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme promises a blitz-your-brains-out approach.

If it drove you crazy the way the Dogs’ cornerbacks tended not to look back for the ball, we’ve already heard that new secondary coach Scott Lakatos is addressing that.

And then there’s probably the No. 1 lament about Georgia’s defense heard in the stands in recent seasons: that soft “prevent” or “bend but don’t break” zone that the Dogs played, with defenders often giving receivers a cushion of 10 yards or more at the line.

The results last year were less than stellar, with the Dogs ranking 10th in the SEC in pass defense, giving up an average of 200 yards per game.

Thankfully, the philosophy of playing back off the receivers apparently is history as well under Lakatos. Talking about the new approach in The Macon Telegraph, the secondary players say Lakatos believes in press coverage, something rarely done under Martinez. Basically, it means having the cornerbacks lining up closely on a wide receiver and “jamming” him at the snap.
The idea, Brandon Boykin says, is to “knock them off their timing and to frustrate them.”

Lakatos also is much more interception-minded, which will be a big change from last year, when the Dogs only snagged 10 picks.

The way the new coach teaches pass defense, cornerback Vance Cuff told the Telegraph, the defenders are going after the ball. “Coach Martinez wanted you to play the man, the hand and basket. … but Coach Lakatos, he wants the ball. Yeah, he wants the ball.”

There is, of course, a danger in such aggressive play that if you go for the ball and miss, you give up a big play. But under Martinez that still frequently happened, even with all that cushion his players allowed, due to poor positioning and tackling.

The key to this gambling kind of defense is execution, and it remains to be seen how it’ll work out.

But I like the more aggressive mentality being instilled in the defense now.

JUST HOW THIN IS THIN?

If there’s an aspect of the offense where a lack of depth could potentially be a big problem for the Dogs, it’s wide receiver. With nagging injuries this spring there’s often been just four healthy scholarship players practicing at that position.

Just how thin is it? When The Red and Black asked Tavares King which young wide receivers had impressed him in spring camp this far, he named two walk-ons: Taylor Bradberry and Rhett McGowan.

It’s a tough situation, A.J. Green says, “but it’s just going to prepare us for the fall. We don’t have [depth], so at this point we’re just going to have to push each other and give each other a break whenever you can.”

Those tight ends are going to be more important than ever.

177 comments Add your comment

38 Yardline Dawg

April 1st, 2010
10:57 am

Blitz your brains out…awesome!

How2fish

April 1st, 2010
10:58 am

Iraq Dawg....Hooah

April 1st, 2010
11:01 am

Let’s bring it Dawgs!…. Hooah!

Bremen Dawg

April 1st, 2010
11:10 am

Lets bring back the junkyard D.

TuckDAWG

April 1st, 2010
11:12 am

Can’t wait lets get reved up time for G-day see this new D GATA GATA GATA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

UGA_ALUMNI

April 1st, 2010
11:26 am

I don’t understand all of the depth concerns at WR…Most of the time we have 2 or 3 in the game at a time. We have AJ, Durham, Troupe, Brown, Wooten, King.

Plus we have 4 talented TEs in White, Charles, Figgins and Lynch. Charles could easily make the switch to WR.

So moving Charles to a slot WR and TE that gives us 7 WR, and three TEs. Now if any of them get hurt and miss significant time, then we might have some issues….

UGA_ALUMNI

April 1st, 2010
11:28 am

And most likely Logan Gray

unweaned lil pup

April 1st, 2010
11:30 am

I see the OL as even thinner than the receiving corp. Even with spring injuries, the receivers are two deep on both sides with players who have actually played some downs. Once the green jerseys come off they will be 3 deep.
The OL has a good starting 5, but the depth depends on:
1) Sturdivant’s return… which has to be considered no more than 50/50, as he is still on crutches and not available until August, and that he is seemingly prone to injury. (This represents the only depth with significant experience, now that Bean has moved to nose.)
2)Strickland as depth depends on return from injury also. He has also been injury prone and has little playing time experience, but he has been around long enough to know the system.
3) AJ Harmon sitting out the rest of the spring with high-ankle sprain. Should be good for August, but has very little experience.
4) Everyone else has very little experience, if any at all.

At least the receivers have experienced depth, can’t say same for OL. If anyone of them goes down, and Sturdivant not 100%, we gonna be scrambling to plug a hole once again.

dogsfan4life

April 1st, 2010
11:30 am

man they are telling me everything that i want to hear! cmr hit the bullseye with this defensive coaching staff! lets go dogs! april 10th cant get here fast enough

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 1st, 2010
11:39 am

this is great news, getting more excited about the new D. agreed with alumni- move Gray to WR and depth should be fine. Murray, Mett & Mason are your QBs, plain and simple.

UGA_ALUMNI

April 1st, 2010
11:42 am

I can’t wait to see CTG’s D take the field. GATA!!!!!

What about FB depth? We possibly have the best FB duo in the country but they are both seniors. Who will be the next great Southerland, Chappas, Muntzienmeir ????

UGA_ALUMNI

April 1st, 2010
11:46 am

We could also use Thomas and Jackson as in motion/quick screen type recievers b/c they are not going to get a lot of time at RB…

Hunting Dawg

April 1st, 2010
11:47 am

Unweanded lil pup, you just keep suckling at the teat of knowledge otherwise know a Bill King and you’ll learn quite a bit. That sounds so wrong on so many levels.

In any event, your concern for the offensive line is unwarranted. To have the 5 starters returning, puts the Dawgs at the top of the SEC in that category. CMR moved Anderson over to the D so he must feel confident in the players (starters and reserves) that are in place for the OL right now.

It always amusing how hope springs eternal in March and April just to whet our appetites for the fall. This will be an interesting year and will play a large role in how well the Dawgs can recruit top-flight talent for 2011.

Go Dawgs and THWGT!!!!!

JB

April 1st, 2010
11:49 am

Yes, we will get burned now and then playing press with DB’s, but the trade off is A LOT of drives will be stopped by tighter pass coverage…..AND, more pressure on the QB. I still can’t get the Carolina game out of my mind 2-3 years ago where the TE was open the whole game and kept moving the chains for them. We never adjusted. I don’t see Grantham & co. letting that happen over and over.

Hunting Dawg

April 1st, 2010
11:52 am

Wow, I did a terrible job with my grammar. Unweanded – Unweaned, know – known, a – as and there should be no comma after returning in the 2nd paragraph.

What the heck, that’s what a Georgia Tech education gets you!

Sam

April 1st, 2010
11:53 am

I think the bend don’t break pass defense is left over from when QBs were less accurate. Now QBs are so darn accurate that you cannot count on them missing an open receiver. (Likewise, the receivers are so good they do not drop as many passes).

Of course, I can’t wait to hear the fans scream when a player goes for the ball and gives up 6. In fact, some of the people who were screaming about the soft defense will be the ones screaming then. Just human nature.

UGA_ALUMNI

April 1st, 2010
11:58 am

Hunting….

You missed one

whet our appetites :)

Chip

April 1st, 2010
11:58 am

That defense sounds like it has been injected with rabies! CTG might need to walk them out of the tunnel on leashes. Sic ‘em boys!!

Dawg Park

April 1st, 2010
12:07 pm

With the depth and talent on the Dline and LBs, the Dbacks will be getting plenty of INTs with quick pressure from the 3-4, forcing the QB to dump the ball quick. This GA D will be unstoppable—mark it down—Dawgs in the BCS in 2010!!!!

Good Grief

April 1st, 2010
12:14 pm

“Hunting….

You missed one

whet our appetites”

whats wrong with that? am I missing something?

unweaned lil pup

April 1st, 2010
12:20 pm

Hunting .. I hope you are right… and that starting 5 on OL stay healthy, and that TS can go, and meanwhile Strickland and Harmon and all those underclassmen get experience and grow, becuz 2, maybe 3 of them will need to start next year. But hard to deny lack of experience at OL depth, which makes it an unknown at this time, even to CMR.
As of right now on receiver corp., AJ and Durham prob first team. Anything happens to both of them, and you can replace with Wooten and King. God forbid that happens, but both those guys are proven playmakers. And you still have Brown and Troupe behind them. Even Charles maybe.
On OL,, if you lose… say … Boling and Jones, and Sturdivant not 100% , we gonna have to plug holes with bodies far less experienced than what Wooten and King bring to the receivers.

reality

April 1st, 2010
12:21 pm

You’ll need to be jammin on D beacause your offense will suck!!!

JMart

April 1st, 2010
12:21 pm

I have a couple of BIG disagreements with this article. Its not about being a “blitz-your-brains-out approach”. Its blitzing more effectively by better disguising where its coming from and having the right balance between pass rush and coverage to put pressure on the QB even when not blitzing.

Secondly, Lakatos’ style of DB play is not a “gambling kind of defense” and going for interceptions on every play. Its just a different and I think more effective technique.

splain it to me pleaze

April 1st, 2010
12:30 pm

Now tell me again how Grantham did calling the signals for the cowboys last year?

Chip

April 1st, 2010
12:35 pm

Always gotta be some Haters on here. If you aint a fan, go follow your own team.

How2fish

April 1st, 2010
12:35 pm

reality we will stomp yet another mudhole in you guys again….

splain it to me pleaze

April 1st, 2010
12:40 pm

Has Grantham ever been a DC before?

Good Grief

April 1st, 2010
12:40 pm

the comments from the jealous tech fans make my day. The fact that you guys even come on to this blog to make snide remarks is proof enough that 30-24, 1-8 still hurts really bad. That’s reality. LOL

reality

April 1st, 2010
12:41 pm

How2BAidiot….You haven’t done that lately???

Jeffro Bodeen

April 1st, 2010
12:43 pm

McGowan has the best hands on the team. Wish he had Durhams height.

UGAAlumnus

April 1st, 2010
12:48 pm

@reality [12:21pm] Our offense sucked last year and we still managed to beat Tech.

Chip

April 1st, 2010
12:48 pm

Reality, that’s why willy is gone. Just be sure yall get your vaccines because yall gone get BIT!

Romeo Crennel

April 1st, 2010
12:48 pm

I fired Grantham for 3 reasons: #1 because he sucked as a corch.
#2 because he eats too much.
#3 because he stabbed me in the back

Minnesota Dawg

April 1st, 2010
12:49 pm

I’m ready for the season to begin! I’m already listening to the Red Coat Band. Go Dawgs! I’d rather be a Georgia Bulldogs than a Gator, Crimson Tide, etc. etc. fan!

fire hydrant running scared

April 1st, 2010
12:50 pm

they be jammin until we throwed it over their 5-9 heads.

DawgByte

April 1st, 2010
12:53 pm

I’m looking forward to watching Grantham’s D at the G-Day game. Everything I’m reading leads me to believe that this new look Dawg D will out perform previous defenses run under Martinez. All the complaints mentioned in this article were things I would complain about to my Dawg buddies. It’s good to know they’re being addressed. Heck if this team can turn around the tackling problem that’s worth 15 spots on a national level.

Dawgie Bowser

April 1st, 2010
12:53 pm

I hope it works. If not, it won’t be long before we all become Lakatos intolerate. The hispanic guy couldn’t make it work. Let’s at least give the Greek guy a chance.

fire hydrant running scared

April 1st, 2010
12:54 pm

bowser and we all know what greeks are known for.

How2fish

April 1st, 2010
1:00 pm

reality wait for it son its coming…and you know it.

Classy

April 1st, 2010
1:00 pm

cantondawg

April 1st, 2010
1:02 pm

I think that’s its obvious with the excitement and comments from the db’s that they were ready for a change. It appears that they either didn’t like or feel comfortable in CWM scheme. That makes all the difference in the world. If a coach is teaching you a technique that you don’t like or feel comfortable with you won’t play your best football. Something was very wrong with the defense and it sounds like it was the teaching or lack thereof of basic fundamental aggressive defense. Defense should serve as a scoring weapon also by creating turnovers and interceptions for touchdowns. I was so sick of the passive defense that we played last year.

How2fish

April 1st, 2010
1:04 pm

Romeo Crennel no one had to stab you in the back fact is you SUXED as a head coach one winning season in 4 years and REALLY suxing 3 of those years.

reality

April 1st, 2010
1:11 pm

I love getting a rise out of all of you pitiful UGA fans.

BMDPD

April 1st, 2010
1:14 pm

fire hydrant running scared, do a little research. We have three DBs under 6 foot. Two are 5 11 the other 5 10 and that is Boykin. I think you have probably seen Boyking jump. So go crawl back into your hole.

Dawgie Bowser

April 1st, 2010
1:21 pm

Breaking sports news: Ben Roethlisberger returns to georgia to explain why he had the coed in the men’s restroom. He stated, ” I like to give young folks instruction. I was only trying to teach her how to pee standing up. Oh yeah….and also how to spell my name correctly.I guess the teacher in me just comes out- especially when I’m drinking.”

Les Grossman

April 1st, 2010
1:24 pm

Isn’t that cute. Blitz your brains out.

HanDAWG

April 1st, 2010
1:25 pm

chazzo

April 1st, 2010
1:32 pm

Any chance of Orson Charles or Branden Smith lining up at a receiver position occasionally?

SOUTH GA DAWG

April 1st, 2010
1:33 pm

If we have to depend on Isreal Troupe we’re in trouble. He stays hurt and is scared to go over the middle. Catches the out routes and deep balls okay, but watch what happens when he hears footsteps!!!

jack bull

April 1st, 2010
1:36 pm

the concern for being thin is injuries. yes we have 6 good receivers, but if, uh, should i say when, a couple of those go down, it’ll be interesting. remember, wide-outs are constantly running all over the field, that can be tiring, ya know. no i’m not jinxing us, it’s just a fact that receivers tend to get nicked up alot… i hope Brown has a big year, another i hope steps up, is Troupe.. we’ll be okay..