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Give a Bone
The great debate raging within the Bulldog Nation after another lackluster performance by the Georgia defense is whether or not Todd Grantham should have a job as defensive coordinator at the end of the season. When you sit down and analyze how the defense underachieved last season and how much they are struggling this season it is a legitimate question. The offense is certainly doing its part this season averaging 517 yards per game on offense and 37.5 points which at UGA is typically good enough to be undefeated but here UGA sits at 4-2 largely because of a defense that is giving up 33.7 points per game. That leads to the question – What needs to be done to correct this UGA defense? Is it an issue with Grantham? Is it an issue with personnel? Is it assistant coaches?
Here are some of the most important defensive statistics and where the Bulldogs rank:
65th in Total Defense
36th in Rushing Defense
96th in Passing Defense
105th in Scoring Defense
23rd in Sacks
97th in 3rd Down Defense
104th in Passing Efficiency Defense
117th in Turnovers Gained
119 in Interceptions
When you look at those numbers a majority of them are terrible. The defense has been terrible in pass coverage, on third downs, forcing turnovers and keeping teams out of the end zone. On the other hand, the Bulldogs have largely done a nice job against the run and have done a good job sacking the quarterback. While statistics often lie, in my mind these statistics don't. When I watch the game I see a defensive front seven that has been stout against the run up the middle and solid (but not great) at getting after the quarterback. I also see a secondary that is probably the worst I have seen at UGA in my thirty years of watching the Bulldogs. They struggle in coverage, they don't break on the ball and their tackling has been terrible. I think Grantham would be the first to tell you that their play has been terrible but he is not going to destroy a bunch of freshmen publicly, while at the same time I think he should call out Damian Swann and Corey Moore because they are veterans and they should be much better than this.
But on to the question I asked when starting out this article – Is Grantham's time as UGA defensive coordinator coming to an end? I say it depends. Mark Richt needs to sit down with Grantham and let him know it is time to make some difficult decisions. The first decision that must be made is schematically. Is Grantham willing to change the way his team plays nickel defense because that is the biggest weakness for this team. When they are lined up in their base 3-4 they are relatively stout but when they go into nickel packages they have struggled mightily throughout the years. If he is willing to look at and adjust his scheme the second task is to make a change in the secondary coach. Scott Lakatos has been a nice experiment but this experiment has run its course and it is time for it to end. His guys seem lost way to often on the field and they don't play with enough aggressiveness or intensity. I often see a lot of technique lacking when they are in their backpedal and when they are coming up to try to make a tackle. Grantham needs to be willing to let Lakatos go and needs to work with Richt and McGarity to find someone new.
I would not touch Coach Wilson (defensive line coach) who has been an excellent hire and has done an incredible job with Ray Drew, Sterling Bailey, Chris Mayes and others. He is the best hire UGA has made for a position coach since Brian McClendon. I also really like what Coach Olivadotti does as the inside linebackers coach. He has done a really nice job with Herrera and Wilson this season and think he will work wonders with the young guys like Carter, Kimbrough, Rankin and O'Neal. I believe those two have earned the right to be a part of the staff moving forward.
If I were in McGarity and Richt's shoes right now I am leaning toward giving Grantham one more year. Despite what the numbers say this year I truly do believe he is a good coach. This defense is going to lose next to nothing this off-season and will be returning a ton of talent that will now have some experience under their belt. With the right schematic adjustments from Grantham and a new secondary coach in place there will be absolutely no excuses for this defense next year. If his defense does not perform next season then it is time to run him out of town, but I say one more year and I don't think you will be disappointed.
I know there are those who will strongly disagree with me so let me hear it! What are your thoughts?
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