Monday, December 2, 2013

On Grantham and his "up arrow"

A month ago my gut feeling was that Grantham was in his last weeks as Georgia's defensive coordinator. My questions at the time had as much to do with strife between Richt and Grantham as anything on the field. To me it seemed as if Richt was suggesting more rotation among the players, particularly at inside linebacker. I won't go into a long discourse over our continued problems with positional depth. It's something that was painfully obvious on defense in the Georgia Dome last year, and is something PWD covers thoroughly here.

And to his credit, Grantham stuck with his plan (at least I never saw an alternative to playing just the starters and anyone who was forced to come in due to an injury). And there was improvement in the final stretch of games in terms of tackling and covering intermediary routes. If you recall, it was Ramik Wilson that had more than one key pass break up on Saturday, one in particular that sealed the win. That's something he struggled with earlier in the season.

One has his eye on the play clock, the other
has his eye on....?? (via Dawgs247)
All that aside, signs definitely point to a rift between head coach and defensive coordinator. Sure, part of that has to do with the frustrations of losing key players as well as just plain losing. But there have been directed comments from Richt regarding the need for simplicity in the playbook as well as the length of time it takes to get the plays in. For a guy that has been pretty guarded with the media in his 13 years in Athens I believe that speaks volumes.

Regardless, a vote of confidence was given yesterday. No one is getting fired. Continuity is Richt's bet and that means one of three things: 1) I'm off base in regards to whether there are differences in philosophy (however minute or grandiose) between the head guy and his defensive coordinator, 2) they've patched things up enough to where they can at least function on the same page, or 3) firing anyone at this point is a money issue.

Before you laugh at that third point, we'll get more into that side of things in a post for tomorrow. For right now we have a defense that grossly under-achieved (again) and a staff that has to fix that. Of course, there's still a chance Foley and Muschamp could come in the next couple weeks and offer Grantham as their offensive coordinator. Who knows. Stranger things have happened. Kidding aside, in the very least Richt believes he has the staff to fix what has ailed the defense this season.

His "body of work" (which may not have been the best phrase to use considering the decline since he arrived) notwithstanding, Grantham is right about one thing. And you can certainly argue to the contrary, but the defense is in better shape now that it was when he got here. The stats may not support it and the numbers may beg the contrary. But we have much better athletes entering the program on that side of the ball. And truly that's half the battle. When you're getting defensive backs who have offers from your actual conference competitors instead of mid-majors, that's improvement. When your linebackers are coming in as freshman physically ready to play SEC football, that's improvement. When you have players getting paid at NFL locales instead of Saskatchewan, that's improvement.

What we need to look at as how much they are improving before they exit Athens. What needs to go up are turnovers gained and not opponents' red zone conversions. What needs to improve are on field adjustments during the course of the game and not just on the practice field Monday.

People ask me whether we should keep Todd Grantham. Even though the point now appears to be moot, it's still worth saying - I truly don't know. I like the guy's intensity. I like the recruits we're getting under his watch. Overall, he's done a good at least an adequate job against our biggest rivals. I'm not sure what his "up arrow" is measuring against. But I think the greatest question we need to look at is how to take the talent he's helping to sign in February and turn that into on field results in the fall.

Whether he's the guy to get that done is a distinct maybe. Not exactly where you want to be heading into year five. But it's where we are nonetheless.