Monday, October 25, 2010

Turnovers Are Turning Around the Dawgs Defensive Woes

Washaun Ealy had a very good game Saturday in Lexington. I hate to steal his thunder, but we didn't win because of his 157 yards on the ground and 5 TD's. We won Saturday because Todd Grantham's defense is creating turnovers.

I know people have been extremely critical of the Dawg's third down defense. I'd count myself as one of those people lately. I almost pulled my hair out on Saturday night. Were the Dawgs not up by three scores, I may have set my TV on fire. It was mostly because of what I was and what I wasn't seeing (It's hard for me to imagine that the definition on an 1080p TV can ever be about 10p). Anyway, for some reason the opposing team's players are always running in the middle of the field wide open for a fifteen yard gain.

Are we not pressuring the QB enough or can our corners not cover man-to-man? I have no idea what the problem is. The only thing I do know is that we are pretty darn good at defending the run and pass on 1st and 2nd down. And we've also become pretty adept at creating turnovers.

The Dawgs are now at +7 in turnover margin. I found stats that go back to 2006 and the best we've finished any season prior to this year is 2007, where we gained 5 turnovers against Hawaii to end the year +9 (via Over Richt's tenure in Athens, we've averaged a +4.25 ratio, if you take out last years abomination of -16.

If you haven't noticed, this is one of the things that the coaching staff, and in particular Todd Grantham, stressed the need to turn around this season.

Darryl Gamble on the philosophy:
"With us being more aggressive, there will be more opportunities to create turnovers. We're trying to rip it out every time we get up on the tackle. I mean, one guy is wrapping up on the tackle and the next guy coming in is trying to rip it out. Our main focus is to try to turn things around from last year and go from being one of the worst to one of the best in that area."  -Per Tim Tucker

We're now in the top-20 nationally, after ranking 118 out of 120 last year. This really encourages me for a few reasons.

  1. Goals are being achieved. I can't remember another year where a coach set a goal and made significant progress toward it. I think the tangible results breed confidence and also help to reestablish the mentality that the defense has lost in the last few years. Next on the list is 3rd down defense. 
  2. This doesn't just happen. I'm of the opinion that you make you own luck. Teams just don't walk on the field and see good things happen. Well-coached teams create turnovers, which is precisely what we've started to do. I think this is a great sign that we're moving in the right direction. 
  3. Guys are playing faster. When nothing seems to go your way you get tentative. Because they have made some plays, the confidence it establishes leads them to believe they'll be able to make another one when they have the opportunity. This is the "swagger" element that we haven't played with recently. It's what killed Willie. The guys didn't think they could stop anyone and, subsequently, they couldn't. 
My point is, this thing is a work in progress but we're certainly making a lot of hay. I'm very encouraged that the problems with the issues I've already addressed will be fixed in time as well.

I just hope they can address it before Saturday, or maybe at least cover it up.

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