With the G-Day practice over and done with, the unwashed masses of Bulldog Nation are flooded with optimism about the upcoming season. On some blogs and message boards I’ve read that Georgia will win the SEC East. Don’t start decking your trailers out with a 2010 SEC Champion banner just yet, this team stinks. Georgia is going to be an 8-4 team AT BEST, and will likely be reprising its role in Shreveport at worst.
Kirk, why are you so down on Georgia? It’s not because I enjoy raining on parades, the answer to that obviously rhetorical question is: “because I’m smarter than you.” While Georgia is returning 10 starters on offense, they’ll be breaking in a new guy at the most important position on the field… quarterback. No matter who the guy under center is, there are going to be some lumps and a steep learning curve. Its a shame that Georgia will waste its most talented player since Herschel (I’m talking about AJ Green).
However, the real problems will be on defense. I’m the only one who hasn’t drank the Kool-Aid on new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Sure, he’s said nice things and screamed at his players… but I remember a former defensive coordinator who did those same things (his name rhymes with Billie Car-tinez). Wake up from the day dream folks, Georgia’s defense isn’t going to be that good and here are three reasons why.
1. Blitzing isn’t the answer
The most frequent complaint about Willie Martinez’ defense was that Willie simply didn’t blitz enough. This is where rednecks can be wrong… woefully wrong. Willie didn’t blitz because he couldn’t. Have you seen the guys playing safety? Reshad Jones and Bryan Evans may be the worst cover safeties Georgia has had since Greg Blue.
Having those two responsible for additional coverage duties on a blitz play is like putting the Three Stooges in charge of guarding Ft. Knox. Add in the fact they can’t tackle and you’ll see why Willie was hesitant to make those two knuckleheads the last line of defense against a pass play over the middle.
By the way, Georgia’s pressure wouldn’t have looked so incredibly weak if the defensive line were any good. You can only cover receivers for so long… especially when your D-line gives the QB enough time to read War and Peace before throwing the ball.
Yet Todd Grantham wants to blitz, blitz, blitz. While the message might play well at Bulldog Club dinners in hick town outposts across the state, it won’t play so well on the field. Rambo and Hamilton are just another version of Jones and Evans… this time with cooler names. Want to see what happens when your safeties stink at pass coverage? Watch this.
2. The Bulldogs don’t have the personnel
Everyone in Bulldog-land is excited about Todd Grantham’s new 3-4 defensive alignments. But, has anyone stopped to ask just exactly who is going to run it? A formation is no good unless you have the players to carry out assignments.
In the secondary, Baccarri Rambo and Jakar Hamilton are the same safeties we’ve had for years, guys with highlight reel hits that couldn’t cover a receiver if their life depended on it. If you go back and watch the tape, you’ll notice that when Rambo was on the field, he was often blowing assignments or out of position… there’s a reason Willie Martinez went with Bryan Evans.
The line backing corps is a group of unknown variables now that Rennie Curran is preening to become an extra in the next Wizard of Oz remake. When you believe that converted running back Richard Samuel will step in and dominate, you’ve got serious issues.
Has anyone noticed that the defensive front stinks just as bad as it did last year? Do you really expect the ends to get pressure on the quarterback when they could barely get past the line of scrimmage last season? In a 3-4 your o-line is as good as your nose guard. In this case, Georgia is lining up converted offensive lineman Justin Anderson… woo I’m excited!
Changing from a 4-3 to a 3-4 with this unit is like putting lipstick on a pig. At the end of the day it’s still Sarah Palin.
3. Willie Martinez wasn’t the problem
With his vacant glances and oblong head, Willie Martinez made for a convenient scapegoat. Has anyone considered that he was doing the best with the talent he was given?
This was the same man that coached an “unstoppable defense” (your quotes, not mine) in 2007. Apparently, he regressed from “genius” to imbecile overnight.
The real issue is recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Rodney Garner. Rodney has done a great job of getting highly touted athletes on campus here at UGA. But, he’s never done a good job of looking past hype and finding guys that fit into a coherent system. Even worse, he buys into hype to the point Georgia winds up with guys that aren’t actually that good.
Willie deserves some blame; he’s out on the recruiting trail also. But, you’ve got to wonder why Garner kept on targeting safeties with mediocre pass coverage skills for a zone-blitz based defense.