Blitzing excites fans but carries big risk for Dogs

Justin Houston and company need to get to Stephen Garcia ... fast. (Associated Press)

Justin Houston and company need to get to Stephen Garcia ... fast. (Associated Press)

In a recent blog, Buck Belue strikes a sobering note amid all the talk about the Dogs’ new 3-4 defense being aggressive and heavy on the blitzing.

Remembering when Donnan’s Dogs went blitz-happy under the not-ready-for-prime-time Kevin Ramsey in 1999 and got burned on lots of big plays, Belue notes that NFL veteran Todd Grantham is no Kevin Ramsey and “surely his plan involves covering [wide receivers] downfield.”

Still, Belue says, “Spurrier is probably thinking this: Blitz us and we’ll have Garcia throw it out to 6′5″ Alshon Jeffrey, who’s working on 5′10 Brandon Boykin, 5′11″ Vance Cuff, or 5′10″ Branden Smith. Dog CBs might have tight coverage, but can they defend the jump ball? Just saying. Might want to get to the QB fast.”

A good point, and one that Mark Richt himself has made about the 3-4 defense. If you go after the quarterback and don’t get him, you put a lot more pressure on your secondary.

And while I really like the talent of the Dogs’ defensive backs and believe ultimately they’ll be a solid unit, they’re not terribly experienced and we still have the problem of those rather short cornerbacks that Willie Martinez loved to recruit. Questions about the defense are likely a big reason the Dogs don’t rank higher in the initial USA Today Unknown Aides Filling Out the Form for Coaches Poll.

As Belue notes, ace pass rusher Justin Houston “looks to be in for a big season in this system,” and the Dogs really need him to live up to those expectations, especially early on against Stephen Garcia and Ryan Mallett.

I’ve said it before: The in-progress renovation of the defense concerns me a heck of a lot more as the season begins than starting a redshirt freshman quarterback.

Your thoughts on Georgia’s defense, especially concerning the South Carolina and Arkansas games?

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149 comments Add your comment

UGADawg16

August 6th, 2010
1:54 pm

More aggressive?

Is it possible to be less aggressive than Willie “Bend until you break” Martinez?

Danny Ford

August 6th, 2010
1:57 pm

Dawgs01 Them corners need to be a itty bit taller than 5′8″ and 5′9″ like they were last year.

Les Miles Clock Management Team

August 6th, 2010
1:57 pm

Well, I guess you can either go down swinging and risk getting burned by the big play or you can jus roll over and die the Willie Martinez way and watch other team march up and down the field against you.

Dorsey Hill

August 6th, 2010
2:01 pm

This is a very valid concern. I remember Will Muschamp bring his LSU defense into Sanford and getting torched because he refused to play anything but man. I think its safe to say that LSU’s corners were probably better than ours, but Gibson, Brown and Greene were pretty good too.

The two big concerns I have are: 1) Its one thing to frustrate a mediocre QB, its quite another to frustrate a good, experienced QB. Yes, the Jets can distrupt Peyton Manning, but we’ve got a ways to go to be that good on D. So do we feast on the worst of our schedule and then struggle against the good qb’s?

2) I really worry about teams that can run it up the gut. Our NT’s are unproven and our ILB’s are smallish in a system where they are required to defeat blocks. Fortunately we don’t play too many teams that fit that mold.

Also, I would be willing to bet that we see a lot of defensive sets with 3 safeties out there. With Nick Williams in the defensive backfield, I think we’ll see him in run support and coming off the edge a lot especially in 2nd and 3rd downs and distance.

Hopefully the run game will limit the number of plays the D has to play and our kicking game will protect the D as well. If we can do that we can play a lot of Cover 3 and Cover 2 shells, limit the big plays and create havoc underneath.

Bill King is a ..................

August 6th, 2010
2:02 pm

My thoughts are we will be fine on defense with a short learning curve. Also, i’m thinking Belue is still an annoying, nasal sounding hot airbag who should be thanking Herschel every morning he wakes up for the career he has now.

RxDawg

August 6th, 2010
2:04 pm

I bet we hardly even notice the change in schemeing.

We might see more 5-6 man rushing going on, but I bet it wont stand out every play.

I’m not going to defend Willie, he had lot’s of time to get things right, but I think our previous defensive woes had more to do with some of the players on the team than it did the coaching staff. After all, look up our defensive stats and rankings from 07.

Now, after all of that, I am glad some change was brought in to help the defense, and I think we will perform better this year. We kind of have to dont we?

TheTaxJacket

August 6th, 2010
2:10 pm

Coaches know best!!!

(((( 17 – 21 ))))

Glory glory to the Jackets, their truth is marching on!!!!

I will not be the next head coach at Alabama. I am the head coach of the Miami Dolphins

August 6th, 2010
2:12 pm

The defensive concerns me more that our new QB. With a very experienced OLine and lots of talent at every skill position, I could QB UGA a score.

No question we have talent on defense. The issue is do we have the right mix of personnel to fit the schemes of the 3-4. BTW, I saw on ESPN that several D1 schools are converting to the 3-4 this year. Can’t remember what teams, though.

Should be a great year.

I-DOG

August 6th, 2010
2:18 pm

CA Dawg has it exactly right. We gave up a ton of points, a ton of yards and lots of big plays last year, we also blitzed a lot so how much worse can it be?. Martinez was heard in the Arkansas game telling his players “that’s all they have!” after another 50 yard bomb went for a td. I’m sure the players were thinking… what else do they need? Tell us how to stop it! Nowhere to go but up.

A 4-3 defense doesn’t HAVE To blitz more than a 3-4, but we know Grantham wants to bring some heat. I expect to give up some big plays, but I also expect us to disguise when and where the blitz is coming from better,tackle better,create more turnovers, and make fewer dumb penalties that continue opponents drives.

We should be able to get more pressure on the qb with just bringing 4 because the opponent doesn’t know where the 4th guy is coming from, which of the 4 linebackers is coming? let Spurrier have Garcia throw a low percentage pass when we do bring 5 or 6 and I’ll take my chances.

#1 BAMA FAN

August 6th, 2010
2:25 pm

The 3-4 allows you to blitz when the offense goes unbalanced, but you don’t have to. It allows you to align your defense after the offense sets. You do need good athletes and linebackers that can make the correct call. The DAWGS will be better with the 3-4. BAMA played ARK-SC-FL the last few years, it worked pretty well. RTR

Bugtussel

August 6th, 2010
2:43 pm

by the 3rd game of the season we’ll be hearing “Bring back Willie!!”

sogadog

August 6th, 2010
3:01 pm

Todd Grantham is light years ahead of Kevin Ramsey and you cannot possibly draw similarities between the two. The 3-4 works pretty well for Alabama.

shane#1

August 6th, 2010
3:06 pm

UGA Cds are learning to use leverage and jam WRs at the line under the new system. It seems to make sense to me. If a CB is rather short wouldn’t it be better to get a good jam at the line and throw the timing of the play off than try to out jump a WR that is six inches taller than he 30 yds downfield? I am more concerned about the lack of experence in the middle of the line than I am giving up a few big plays. Man, Garcia had plenty of big plays last season against Willie’s zone.

RambleOn84

August 6th, 2010
3:08 pm

The 3-4 is designed as a blitzing defense. At least one linebacker will be blitzing on nearly every play out of the base formation, which leaves just as many men in coverage as in a 4-3 (4 men rush, 7 men in coverage). The key is to mix up the coverages and blitzes so the QB and OL never know who is coming and who is dropping back into coverage.

The key is if your D-line is big enough to keep the O-linemen from blocking on the second level. UGA has plenty of size along the line, so they should be just fine.

The 3-4 is becoming more and more popular for a reason, and I predict UGA’s defense will improve this year.

But again, I have to emphasize that the scheme alone will not make things much better. The guy calling the plays needs to be smart enough to recognize the weaknesses and trends of the offense.

Is Grantham that guy? We’ll find out this year.

Good luck to the Bulldogs, in all games but one.

Vince Lombardi

August 6th, 2010
3:09 pm

How is all this blitzing gonna help in defending Tech’s spread option where you have to stay at home and play assignment football? If Tech can break the line of scrimmage it’ll be a sure touchdown.

There are so many Green Bay Packers fans down here in Georgia. I see our oval “G” everywhere.

Go Packers!!!!

Tech is better than You

August 6th, 2010
3:10 pm

How does it feel knowing that every Tech grad right out of college makes more than every single one of you posting in this room?? You’re players are athletic enough, but not smart enough to run the schemes and won’t be effective. Get back to flipping the burgers!

RambleOn84

August 6th, 2010
3:11 pm

And you are not smart enough to know the difference between “you’re” and “your.”

RambleOn84

August 6th, 2010
3:12 pm

The trolling by both fanbases is just obnoxious.

Will

August 6th, 2010
3:13 pm

If memory serves me correctly we(UGA) gave up tons of big plays and were scorched several times during the past two seasons. So if we give up some big plays this year it will be nothing new. but at least we have a better group of coaches who know what they are doing and can build and get better for future seasons. So the hell with it, let’s get aggressive like UCONN did & keep Garcia on his back….. he will make mistakes.

Tech is better than You

August 6th, 2010
3:13 pm

Bradley G

August 6th, 2010
3:18 pm

This is not rocket science, boys. We didn’t blitz while having “experienced” DBs last year and got beat on a lot of big plays. If DBs are a weakness of the defense, one of the schemes a smart DC will do to keep the ball away from getting into the secondary is by…wait for it…blitzing the QB. Houston and Washington….GATA!!!

tony

August 6th, 2010
3:19 pm

Grantham spent six seasons at his alma mater, Virginia Tech, the final two as defensive line coach. In 1995, the Hokies ranked first nationally in rushing defense, fifth in scoring defense and 10th in total defense. Virginia Tech racked up 50 sacks en route to the Big East title and a Sugar Bowl triumph over Texas. Grantham coached defensive ends and inside linebackers from 1990–91 and defensive tackles from 1992-93.

Michigan State (1996-1998)
Grantham then served three seasons as the defensive line coach at Michigan State. He added the title of assistant head coach in his final season in East Lansing in 1998. Michigan State ranked 19th in total defense in 1996 and 13th in 1997, making consecutive bowl trips.

[edit] Indianapolis Colts (1999-2001)
Grantham was hired by Jim Mora in 1998 to coach the Defensive Line. His D-Line was one of the catalysts of the biggest turnaround in league history (3-13 to 13-3), ultimately helping the Colts defense compile 56 sacks in two years which was a club record since moving to Indianapolis. During his tenure in Indianapolis, the Colts had a 29-19 record.

[edit] Houston Texans (2002-2004)
After Jim Mora was relieved of his duties in Indianapolis, Grantham would move on to the newly formed Houston Texans, joining the staff of former Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Coordinator and Inaugural Carolina Panthers head coach Dom Capers. Grantham would be given lots of talent to work with from the start, as the Texans acquired Pro Bowl Defensive End Gary Walker and Nose Tackle Seth Payne from the Jacksonville Jaguars in the expansion draft.

In 2002, his influence was evident on the line as starters Gary Walker, Seth Payne, and Jerry Deloach all posted career high’s in tackles. Gary Walker would also earn his second Pro Bowl appearance under his tutelage that season.

2003 would be a testing year for the line, as Pro Bowler Gary Walker and Seth Payne would only play in a combined six games that year due to injury. However, Jerry Deloach and Steve Martin would fill in with great success, posting a combined 201 tackles. Despite the very poor 5-11 record, there was optimism for the future of the steadily improving defense.

2004 would be a break-out year for the Texans. Todd Grantham’s line would once again make a major contribution, helping the Texans achieve the 13th ranked run defense in the league. Despite the low number of sacks (5.5) , they put great pressure on opposing quarterbacks (76 recorded pressures) and helped anchor the defense that was equipped with playmakers such as 2004 1st round draft pick Dunta Robinson, former Ravens Linebacker Jamie Sharper, and Veteran Defensive Backs Aaron Glenn and Marcus Coleman. Despite posting a mediocre 7-9 record, the Texans were poised to start making an impact in the NFL after improving every season since their inception in 2002.

After three strong seasons with the Texans, Todd Grantham would accept an offer by Romeo Crennel to become Defensive Coordinator of the Browns. After he left, the Houston Texans would fall apart as they posted a 2-14 record. Dom Capers was fired after the end of the season.

[edit] Cleveland Browns (2005-2007)
Todd Grantham’s first year as coordinator of the Browns defense was a mix of good and bad.

They once again fielded one of the NFL’s top pass defenses, actually stepping up in rank from 5th to 4th in the NFL. When starting cornerback Gary Baxter went down with a knee injury that ended his season, Leigh Bodden emerged as a solid playmaker. Overall, their secondary continued to play at a high level.

They also ranked 11th in scoring defense despite possessing one of the leagues worst run defenses. Orpheus Roye would post a career high with 88 tackles and also make 3 sacks.

He was fired on January 11, 2008 after the 2007 season with the Brown’s defense ranking 25th against the pass, 27th against the run, and 30th in total-yards-against among 32 teams.

[edit] Dallas Cowboys (2008-2009)
Grantham served as the defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys until the end of the season when he joined the coaching staff at the University of Georgia as defensive coordinator. During Grantham’s 2 seasons with Dallas, the Cowboys improved from 13th (2007) to 2nd (2009) in the league in points allowed.[2]

[edit] Georgia Bulldogs (2010-present)
Grantham has said that he will install a 3-4 style defense next year instead of Georgia’s current defensive style of a 4-3.

I am not concern with the defense because they are in good hands with coach Todd Grantham. His track record speaks for itself. Throughout his coaching history he had only one let down(in Cleveland) but I’m not concern with that because one let down doesn’t define who you are as a coach overall. I’m more concern with the playcalling on offense than I am with the defense. This team is good enough to go undefeated and I believe they will until they meet the Tides in Atlanta.

Football Guru

August 6th, 2010
3:21 pm

The 3-4 is a totally different scheme than Ramsey. Look for Georgia to play a lot of squat cov 2 and cov 1 man to man (where they will bring 5 defenders from different angles). J. Houston will have alot of great opportunities. Georgia has the speed at corner and size at safety. Watch this defense shine. Where the defense is somewhat weak is against a standard TE set, where this defense basically becomes a 50 front. with two split LBers. Look for alot of teams to use TE trips, Bunch sets, and try to isolate one on one coverage on the weak side. Two TEs and a single back is also tought is also tough for a 3-4. Georgia needs to be able to stop the run, then we can worry about blitzing.

How2coach

August 6th, 2010
3:26 pm

Minnesota burned the 3-4 Dallas defense of Todd Grantham
……………………………………………………………….===========
and Wade Phillips.

TrueDawg

August 6th, 2010
3:29 pm

One of the changes I hope to see under Grantham, is the ability to adapt his game plan to what the opponent’s offense is doing and how his defense is playing. In his latter years, it didn’t seem like Willie Martinez had much of a game plan going into a game. However, when he did, and the offense made adjustments, he stuck with the same game plan.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

August 6th, 2010
3:30 pm

Either way, there is about to be football plated on Sat afternoons!! Rambleon84, thanks for being classy. Both sides could use more like you, good luck to GT as well…..until

Preston

August 6th, 2010
3:39 pm

Whatever the defense looks like, it’s gotta be better than what we’ve had the past few years. Can’t wait to see some Junkyard Dawg defense again!

Tenuta

August 6th, 2010
3:48 pm

Yea, that’ll work!

CO-STARRING LEE VAN CLEEF AS THE BAD

August 6th, 2010
3:50 pm

I would think that if Tech is better than us they would have heard of a run blitz. Hey Kam Fong, what’s up with Wo Fat?

Preston

August 6th, 2010
3:52 pm

Wo Fat must be dealt with for raping Lang Fu.

DIT

August 6th, 2010
4:01 pm

Are you kidding me? I just want to see the defensive scheme in which we are actually tackling people and running through those tackles. The past two years it looked as if no one taught the players how to tackle. Just line up and smack someone in the mouth!
Hey, anything will be better than willie. However, though athletic, we do not have the personal yet to run this defense. I’m excited, but nervous about SC & ArK this year. Get by them and I’ll breath easier! Just get rids of all the arm tackling and run through those tackles!! GO DAWGS!

Evansdawg

August 6th, 2010
4:16 pm

You are right. The defense seems to be the much more in need of work than the QB. THe QB is one guy surrounded by a buch of experienced playmakers. The entire Defense has GOT to gel.

CO-STARRING LEE VAN CLEEF AS THE BAD

August 6th, 2010
4:39 pm

The man with no name and I will deal with Wo Fat. He is reported to be in Hu Nang.

SAMMY DAVIS, JR

August 6th, 2010
4:40 pm

ONE THING YOU MUST THINK ABOUT: In a 4-3 Defense you have 4 linemen & 3 linebackers, correct? In the 3-4 you have 3 linemen & 4 linebackers, correct? Either way you still end up with 3 linebackers so this does not hurt the Defensive backs at all. The advantage is you know the 3 linemen are there –you just don’t know where that 4th one is coming from (he’ll be the one blitzing).

Ted Striker

August 6th, 2010
4:49 pm

Very good column Bill,

In the first year, I see Grantham really trying to mix up the 3-4 with nickle and various zone coverages, as well as stacking the line when need be. Why? Because he doesn’t have the exact personnel he wants. Blitzing has and always will be a high risk/high reward scheme.

p.s. Great reach back into the vault to discuss the Kevin Ramsey debacle. Donnan might have lasted another 2 years — which I wouldn’t have objected to — if he hadn’t hired KR.

Chazzo

August 6th, 2010
5:13 pm

Of course, the ideal would be to get to Garcia before he can throw up a jump ball. And, a jump ball can sometimes turn into a wounded quail. If an offense has to be blitz wary, there is a system of risk and reward for them at play, as well. If your D-scheme is to give them five yards a play, it’s a no brainer.

NCAA strikes again

August 6th, 2010
5:23 pm

Not flaming but in unrelated news UT is expecting a letter of inquiry from the NCAA regarding an alleged 5 major recruiting violations with “lack of institutional control” regarding hostessgate, etc. Lane Kiffin did more damage in 1 year than he ever could have imagined. Even a Bama fan like myself feels bad for the vols having been under the NCAA thumb ourselves. This set of allegations rivals the near death penalty sanctions that we received in the early 2000s.

run the ball

August 6th, 2010
5:28 pm

We have a very good secondary. I think Lakatos is the real deal. I also think that we were so poorly coached for so long it will cost us one or two early games this year. You can’t reverse years of bad technique in 6 months. It’s a damn shame too, because Boykin and Smith can really go.

Richt has 4 years to win the SEC. We are all hoping that CTG is the real deal, because if he is not, Richt is gonna be gone in 4 years. If he is, we will have an SEC title in the next 4. Write it down.

TallyDawg

August 6th, 2010
5:28 pm

It will be SO funny to watch him get crucified over this at USC. I’m betting he will get them the death penalty before it’s over.

ugag is irrelevant

August 6th, 2010
5:30 pm

blitzing is a drinking game, right?

run the ball

August 6th, 2010
5:32 pm

Thank you Football Guru. That was right on time. Everyone should read that. I like getting after the QB but if we can’t stop the run it doesn’t matter.

Tide Rising

August 6th, 2010
5:56 pm

Dawgs have that critical piece in Justin Houston to run a 3-4 with a good linebacker that can play standing up or hands down. At least that’s what I hear is that Houston is a future NFL caliber linebacker.

What I have noticed though at Bama since we run the 3-4 is that like us Georgia will also employ a lot of nickel and dime packages. The problem we’ve had is that its a little more complicated throwing in nickel and dime sets and at least once a game there’s a breakdown that gets us nailed with a long td pass-Texas, Tenn on a short route, etc.

The first season our players looked lost sometimes and there were definite breakdowns all season long. Even in the 2008 seccg we had players in the front 7 lining up in the wrong gap sometimes. Going to take at least half a season before the d plays full speed on every play with the confidence of knowing they’re in the right place at the right time. And not just coverages but lining up over the right gap on every play.

Tide Rising

August 6th, 2010
6:02 pm

TallyDawg,

The expected NCAA letter of inquiry to UT apparently focuses on the 1 year of Kiffin so you can bet your azz that the NCAA is going to have him under a microscope at USC. There is no question that in the years he is going to be at USC that something is going to happen. Rightly or wrongly the NCAA goes after people with some personal animus in mind and this guy has given them plenty of loud talk and fodder to go after him.

guy m.

August 6th, 2010
6:19 pm

Does it really matter if it’s a 3-4 or a 4-3? What is the difference or advantage of 3-4? Someone please explain this for me. Thanks

Vick=Dog killing Thug

August 6th, 2010
6:29 pm

with only a couple of exceptions this is a very good thread. Lot of good info about UGA and intelligent football talk.

Of course the exceptions are from the IGNORANT Tech fans. What a bunch of idiots

We run this state.

RambleOn84

August 6th, 2010
6:48 pm

guy m,
As I and some others have said, the advantage of a 3-4 is deception. You usually blitz at least one linebacker on every play. If, for instance, you blitz one linebacker, you still have seven men in coverage like in a 4-3; but the difference the extra rusher can come from anywhere, confusing the O-linemen and quarterback.

A good DC takes advantage of the confusion and switches up coverages and blitzes often.

UGA fans shouldn’t worry about blitzing too much; they should worry if their DC will be creative and intelligent enough to mix it up well.

I hope it is very effective for y’all in every game but one.

Pantero

August 6th, 2010
7:06 pm

Have two linebackers blitz on every play. When they get close to the QB, they throw a bottle of booze and some red panties in his face to distract him.

Call it the Damon Evans Blitz #1.

Delbert D.

August 6th, 2010
7:13 pm

“if you blitz Mallet he will make a lot of mistakes or get sacked.”

30 TDs, 7 INTs in 2009. 152.5 Passing Efficiency Rating

Taco

August 6th, 2010
7:18 pm

@ Georgia Mark, Richt coaches his players down :}

RambleOn84

August 6th, 2010
7:21 pm

I am a arm chair coach….can’t you tell?