Monday, April 11, 2011

Bulldogs defense coming along

While hardly giddy, Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham sounds noticeably more optimistic and assured about his work-in-progress 3-4 defense this spring than he did at any time last year.

To hear your average Bulldog fan tell it, last year's defense was a broken levee. Although it was far from dominant, it wasn't nearly as bad as some would lead you to believe, especially given where it was the year before, and factoring in an entirely new scheme and new terminology.

The Dawgs finished in the middle of the pack in ppg allowed, and 4th in total defense. Improvement is most certainly needed, but that's not a bad jumping off point.

One thing lost in the shuffle of a new staff and scheme, though, is how much better all the defensive coaches (remember, except for Garner, the rest of the staff was new as well) will be at identifying the various strengths and shortcomings of their personnel. As a coach, there is a fine line between teaching a guy to do everything he needs to do (and do it well), and getting to a point where you say, "That's just not a strength of our team, so we need to find other ways to be successful."

Grantham has begun to echo a prevalent idea last year, which was that there definitely is a learning curve in switching to a new defensive philosophy, but the players are starting to play faster and with more confidence.

When you know what you're doing and how to do it, you can really let your ability come to the forefront. Hopefully, the Dawg "D" will begin to reflect the talent that has supposedly been assembled in Athens over the past few years.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Talk is cheap, but lack of talk is refreshing

Now that spring practice is in full swing for the Bulldogs, this is usually about the point where we start hearing how such-and-such is looking phenomenal, how nobody can block what's-his-name, and how nobody can cover Whositz (though, in AJ Green's case, that was actually true).

To be certain, there are far fewer known commodities on this year's squad than in years past, but in general, we've seen far less in the glowing comments department so far this spring. In fact, the best comments from coaches have basically peaked at lukewarm.

I suppose going 6-7 the previous year will have that effect. After all, it would be kind of silly to start talking about how great everyone looks, especially when your best offensive and best defensive players have left for the NFL.

It could also be the case that nobody really has looked particularly impressive thus far, though I hope that's not it.

I just can remember far too many seasons where this guy or that was tearing it up, only to flame out when the season came along. Remember Cedric Heyward? Heck, even Richard Samuel, who I hope gets a chance to reinvent himself as a linebacker, was the talk of the town two springs ago, when every day he was 'taking it to the house.'

In an off-season of changes across the board, it's my personal feeling that the coaching staff is (and should be) taking the approach that nobody deserves praise in the spring. Even if an individual is doing exactly what should be 96% of the time, there's still no reason to not get him up to 98%, to throw out some random stats that have absolutely no meaning in the real world.

Georgia was a model of inconsistency last season. The second you heap praise on someone, particularly a 20 year-old star athlete, he can easily begin to rest on his laurels and think that he's arrived.

So, maybe it's best that, in the season of renewal, the attitude, and maybe even the staff's mantra, be "Not Good Enough." Because, let's face it, "good enough" simply wasn't last year.