A lot of folks are expecting pass rusher Justin Houston to become a break-out star this season, and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is one of them. Grantham, in an interesting interview with ESPN.com’s Chris Low, says he’s looking for Houston to rise above the rest of the Dogs’ defensive players.
“I’m expecting a big year out of him and have talked to him about that,” Grantham says. “Everybody on your team isn’t the same, and he’s got to be one of those guys who rises above for us. We need to expect more out of him. You have to manufacture production from your linebackers in the 3-4, particularly your outside guys, because that’s where you generate your pass rush. I think Justin is made for the 3-4, and it’s a very good fit for him.”
Other notes of interest in the Grantham chat include him seeing cornerback as the most competitive position on the Georgia defense … mentioning that he sees incoming freshman T.J. Stripling playing behind Houston … saying again that his philosophy is “if somebody goes down, I’d rather play the next best guy instead of the next guy at that position” … stressing the importance of developing a rotation of players on the defensive line (”If a guy feels like he has to play 60 plays, he’s going to coast. But if he knows he only has to play 35, he will give you more and knows when he gets tired that he’s going to come out and the next guy’s going in”) … repeating his belief that the way to improve Georgia’s turnover ratio is to disrupt opposing quarterbacks (”the guy who fumbles the most”) … saying he’ll call defensive signals from the sideline … and summing up by saying, “I know this, that the Georgia fans have a passion for defense, the ‘Junkyard Dawg’ defense that is so famous around here. I anticipate working toward giving them the things they have a passion for.”
As I’ve said before, Grantham says all the right things. The only question seems to be how long it will take the players to adapt to his scheme and for Grantham to get all the right bodies in the right places.
ALONG THOSE LINES …
Team Speed Kills picks Georgia to finish second in the SEC East but with a less than ringing endorsement, and one of the reasons is questions about the defense.
While the move to the 3-4 scheme is “probably the right decision for the future,” TSK notes that “it will take time for the players to adjust; it’s more complicated than ‘put an extra linebacker on the field.’ You have to wonder if the game or two the Dawgs might win because they fired [Willie] Martinez will be canceled out by the game or two the Dawgs might lose because of unfamiliarity with the defensive scheme.”
A fair assessment, I’d say. What do you think? Does the renovation of Georgia’s defense concern you more than starting an inexperienced quarterback?
The Athens Banner-Herald has dug out some vintage Herschel Walker shots from its photo vault. Enjoy.
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