Sunday, January 3, 2010

When Georgia Gets a New Defensive Coordinator

There are still several names popping up as potential candidates to replace Willie Martinez as Georgia's new defensive coordinator (I suspect local sports writers have had a "rumor mill" button installed on their keyboards). Although Mark Richt has been tight-lipped regarding those with whom he's spoken or considered, it would seem that the two highest profile candidates, VA Tech's Bud Foster and LSU's John Chavis, have simply used the possibility of going to UGA as a bartering chip.

Whoever ends up with the job, though, it's important for fans to be realistic about a few things. Of course, staying realistic has never been a strong suit of the rabid SEC fan.

First, and I don't say this lightly, trust the coach. The general feeling out there is that 'everyone' wants either a big name, or the flavor of the month. The two things to keep in mind here are that the big names weren't always big names, and that the big names aren't always all their made out to be. Brian Van Gorder was a 'nobody' in the eyes of many when he came with Richt to Georgia in 2001. He left as one of the most respected DC's in the nation. And, while I'd personally like to see Kirby Smart (or another up-and-comer) come to UGA, keep in mind that he's been learning the ropes under one of the best defensive minds in college football in Nick Saban. While all signs point to his being the real deal, there's no guarantee he'll be successful when he's out on his own.

Second, and I may be in the minority on this, but schemes and calls can only go so far. Sure, some defenses are generally better prepared week in and week out than others (which is why Martinez was fired), and some DC's have a knack for calling the odd blitz at better times, etc, but at the end of the day, players have to make plays. Case in point: The 2007 Florida defense was atrocious. This was due, in large part to youth and inexperience, but they were not good as a unit. In '08 and '09, they ranked among the nation's elite in most important defensive categories. What got Willie fired was that there was a general trend of ill-preparedness for random quarters/halves/entire games for the past several years. The point here is that fans shouldn't expect someone to just walk in and be in the top 10 in defense every year. What should be expected is that allowing 30+ points in a game goes back to being a rare exception as opposed to a common occurrence.

Finally, Georgia's offense and special teams are going to play a big part in the resurrection of its defense. Let me be perfectly clear when I say that Richt was absolutely justified in firing Martinez. Having said that, I'm not sure any defensive coordinator would have had what could be considered a great season given all the turnovers committed by Georgia over the last couple of seasons, particularly on its own side of the field. The problem with Martinez (and Richt's take, at least publicly), was that these turnovers were treated as Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free cards, as if they just shrugged their shoulders and said, "What are ya gonna do?" That attitude does need to change.

I'm pretty confident that Coach Richt is pouring over tons of game film and statistics, and talking with everyone in the business to get the best person available. He knows his own job could ultimately be tied to the success of his new defensive coordinator. So, whoever Georgia gets should be welcomed with open arms, big name or not. Hopefully, all the tangibles and objective, qualitative, quantitative, and otherwise immeasurable attributes will translate to a return to dominance for the Bulldog defense.

1 comment:

  1. It will be great to watch Georgia Bulldogs, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.