Monday, August 2, 2010

Hair of the Dawg: Fall Camp Special Edition

"I must break you."

Hair of the Dawg is a weekly featurette which gives our readership the oppotunity to avoid the potentially life threatening "hangover-like" symptoms a Monday morning will invariably induce.

In honor of the start of fall camp today, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at what I (and most of the Red and Black) am looking forward to about this season. It has to be Todd Grantham's defense. I'm excited at the thought of a rushing, as in getting after the qb, defense. With all of my excitement aside, what can UGA fans expect from CTG?

At the coordinator level, Grantham has only held one job- the Cleveland Browns. In 2005, Romeo Crennel hired Grantham away from Dom Capers and the Houston Texans after 3 relatively successful seasons coaching the defensive line. For purposes of comparison, I reviewed the prior two years defensive statistics and then Grantham's three years as coordinator. (via Pro-Football-Reference.com & ESPN.com)

Here are some interesting stats from 03'-04' and how they rank:
1. Yards per Play: 5.0 (14), 5.1(12)
2. Yards per Rush: 4.6 (26), 4.3 (21)
3. Yards per Pass: 6.1 (6), 6.7 (9)
4. First Downs: Rushing/Passing/Penalty: 100/160/23 (17/10/8), 141/144/22 (32/4/7)
5. Penalties: 141 (32), 109 (12)
6. Sacks: 35 (17), 32 (27)
7. Points: 20.1 (12), 24.4 (24)
8. Takeaways: 22 (27), 28 (17)

From Grantham's time 05'-07' and rank:
1. Yards per Play: 5.0 (13), 5.3 (20), 5.4 (21)
2. Yards per Rush: 4.2 (22), 4.4 (23), 4.5 (29)
3. Yards per Pass: 6.4 (8), 6.8 (17), 6.7 (9)
4. First Downs: Rushing/Passing/Penalty: 116/161/15 (27/11/1), 107/178/18 (18/20/4), 100/211/24 (19/30/24)
5. Penalties: 97 (3), 84 (4), 80 (4)
6. Sacks: 23 (32), 28 (27), 28 (26)
7. Points: 18.8 (11), 22.3 (22), 23.9 (21)
8. Takeaways: 23 (25), 27 (19), 27 (20)

There are a few things that really stick out looking at these stats. The first of which would be how ineffective Grantham and his predecessor were at defending the run. It goes right along with how to beat a team that is blitz happy- run, and run a lot. What also jumps out is the lack of sacks on a team that is known for blitzing. I'm not really sure what would cause this other than not having a great pass rusher. The most interesting statistic for me is on the penalties against line. The Browns were very, very rarely penalized despite a highly aggressive scheme.

Some of these statistics run counter intuitively to what Grantham achieved in his stints coaching the defensive line. In his most recent stop at Dallas, he improved scoring defense from 13th to 2nd as well as improving total defense to 8th in 2008 and 9th in 2009. The Cowboys also led the NFL in sacks in 2008. He also had top-20 defenses while coaching at Virginia Tech in 1995 as well as Michigan State in 96' and 98'.

So what can we expect? I think it's pretty reasonable for all of us to look forward to an improved pass defense. Despite having a less than stellar class of defenders, the Browns averaged in the top twelve teams in the league defending the pass. With the best defenders being former Dawg Sean Jones and Leigh Bodden, this is VERY good. While the sack numbers in Cleveland are concerning, I think some of this is attributable to the lack of any elite pass rushers. I'm not worried here. I'm also very excited about the discipline that his defense shows regardless of the aggressive nature of the 3-4 scheme. Penalties and turnovers have been our bugaboo lately, and with some injection of discipline in that area things will straighten out.

I am HIGHLY concerned about the rush defense and takeaways. Rush defense is an area that we've historically been strong in and have to be, in my opinion, to be successful. Perhaps this could also be partly due of the lack of talent along the d-line in Cleveland. It was not a worry in Dallas, and that does lend itself to some confidence. What is of most concern to me is our recent history of being terrible in turnover margin and Grantham's historical lack of takeaways. The Cowboys were not good in this department and as you can see, the Browns weren't much better. I hope this is where Scott Lakatos and Warren Belin can be great assets. This is a very real concern, and hopefully one that will be addressed, otherwise it could be our downfall, again.

In taking the time to really look at Todd Grantham and his experience, I'm still bullish on what he can accomplish here. We have a lot of untapped potential on the defensive side. I think we'll be better and also the product will be far more exciting to watch. Lord knows that watching Willie get his zone picked apart wasn't the most fun thing to endure. After endless gnashing of teeth, it's time to see if we really do have the athletes to play man on the outside. I, for one, think we'll excel.

1 comment:

  1. Yall guys lost me on this one! Who cares about the past stats!!!! This DAWG IS REAYD 2 HUTN!!!! DAWGS OR DIE!

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