Athens – Let’s stipulate that one or two folks on this planet care deeply about how the Dallas Cowboys fare on given autumn Sundays. But even at the highest level of pro football, there’s a difference in passion between that found in the college game, and this was reflected on, of all places, AJC.com.
A guy (blush) asked readers to submit questions for Todd Grantham. Within 12 hours came more than 350 suggestions. Yes, some were impertinent, but the majority were detailed and incisive, and that says all you need to know about the interest/scrutiny Georgia’s new defensive coordinator will encounter.
And Grantham, to his credit, welcomes it. (At least he did Friday, though it must be noted his first in-person media briefing came well before a Grantham-coached Georgia defense has lost a game.) “That’s the reason I wanted to take this job,” he said. “I understand the passion. I understand who Georgia fans want to beat and where they want to be. And I feel like we can achieve that.”
Grantham has spent the past decade working in the NFL. Not to go all Charlie Weis on you, but it’s clear Georgia’s new DC believes his new team will have a schematic advantage because of his background. Here, responding to a question submitted by Luke, was Grantham’s response about the ongoing quest of pro teams to exploit matchups, as opposed simply to playing a basic defense every down:
“The last 11 years I’ve been dealing with matchups, and that’s what you have to do in the NFL. You don’t get guys running free to the quarterback very often; the best you can hope for is getting a one-on-one. We’re going to find ways to make [opponents] in pass protection make blocks, whether it’s a back kept in or an offensive lineman.”
The 3-4 defense remains a relative novelty in collegiate circles, and that’s one reason Grantham considers it well suited to defuse exotic offenses. (See: Florida’s spread or Paul Johnson’s option. This question was offered by Chem.) “I don’t think there’s any question [the 3-4] can be better,” Grantham said. “We don’t have to declare our pass rusher until we see the formation. We can adjust.
“With the 4-3, you know the four guys who stick their hands in the dirt are going to rush. One of the things about the 3-4 is that you know one of those four [linebackers] is going to be coming 95 percent of the time. You just don’t know which one.”
Grantham has already gone recruiting — he passed his NCAA-mandated test, Steve Spurrier should know — but said Georgia isn’t suddenly in the market for every Grady Jackson lookalike of tender years. (This question was submitted by doodoo bailey and Suwaneedawg.)
“There are two types of 3-4,” Grantham said. “There’s the New England type, where you’ve got a big massive guy up front. We’re going to be a 1-gap team. In Dallas we had Jay Ratliff [a stripling at 303 pounds] make the Pro Bowl. We’ll have a standard [for nose tackles] as we go forward, but we also have to have position flexibility.”
Todd Grantham, you should know, is an impressive guy. He says much of what you’d expect — “We want to be physical and aggressive and relentless … We want the other team, when they get done playing you, not to want to play you again” — but says it in a way that makes you believe he can deliver. He made it known he expects UGA fans to deliver, too.
“I’ve heard [Georgia fans] bark when [a defender] makes a play,” he said, smiling. “Is that true? That’s my question to them.”
One thing more: The guy who asked readers to submit questions posed one of his own, this on a matter of global importance. While with the Cowboys, did Grantham meet Jessica Simpson?
“I did,” he said. Then, kidding, he pointed to reporters’ tape recorders on the table. “Turn those off.” Then this: “I can tell this little story. I was sitting in my office one Tuesday watching film [here he mimicked a guy reared back in a chair with a remote in his hand], and Tony [Romo, Simpson's former flame] walked by. He said, ‘Hi, Todd.’ Then someone else said, ‘Hi, Todd.’
“I’m like this. [Mimicking craning his neck around a corner.] It was Jess. Nice girl. Nice girl.”