We all should be familiar with the term 'enabler'. Now, under most circumstances, this term carries negative connotations along with it, as in, one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior. In this example, however, I'm using the term in its original sense...that is, the definition before the semicolon in the Merriam-Webster dictionary...simply: one that enables another to achieve an end.
To me, the word achieve is really what makes all the difference with how the term is being used in this example. An enabler shouldn't always be someone who's thought of as a bad person, or a person who isn't strong enough to make decisions that prevent their loved ones from harming themselves; rather, an enabler should be one who is often praised, one who is seen as doing the dirty work, the behind the scenes work, while someone else achieves on a larger scale and receives credit.
A prime example of this latter definition of an enabler came about midway through the third quarter of Saturday's game against Auburn. The Tigers found themselves facing a 3rd and 4 from their own 31 yard line, and were looking to pick up a first down to continue a drive down the field and gain some sort of semblance of momentum in a game where they'd been completely dominated. The Tigers lined up in a tight formation, with three wide receivers, a tight end, and a running back on the field. Quarterback Jonathan Wallace is lined up in the shotgun, with runningback Tre Mason offset to his right on the strong side of the field. There are also two wide receivers off of the line to the right, and one wide receiver lined up tight on the weak side.
Note: at this point, I'm actually going to take a detour to discuss what Georgia's doing defensively, because I think it's really intriguing.
From a defensive perspective, Georgia's actually in a really interesting personnel package/formation. Simply glancing at the field, it appears as if the Dawgs are in a 2-4-5 set, with two down linemen, four linebackers, and five defensive backs (two cornerbacks, a nickelback, and two safeties). Once you really start to look at who, actually, is on the field, though, it's really more of a 1-5-5 formation than it is a 2-4-5. Big Bad John is the only true defensive lineman on the field. To his right is Jarvis Jones, who's playing the weak outside linebacker position on the line, without his hand in the dirt. Playing opposite Big Bad John, in the spot often occupied by Kwame Geathers or Garrison Smith, is actually hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker Cornelius Washington. Finally, in the strong outside linebacker spot is Jordan Jenkins, with his hand in the dirt. Now, the truly interesting thing about this is that it really shows the versatility that Todd Grantham has with his players, and how he likes to have players on his team who can play multiple positions on the field. During the Florida game, we saw Grantham start using his three most athletic defensive players, Jones, Washington, and Jordan Jenkins together on the field a fair amount, as he explained that it gives the defense a lot more flexibility. In this example, you're seeing Jones in his normal spot, Big Bad John (normally the nose tackle) in a defensive end spot, Cornelius Washington (normally an outside linebacker or defensive end) in the nose tackle spot, and Jordan Jenkins, a guy who normally lines up at outside linebacker, but who has good size and strength, so Grantham's able to plug him in at the defensive end spot with his hand in the dirt. It's really an exceptional display of cross-training and athleticism.
Back to the play...the Tigers decide to run a screen play, with runningback Tre Mason running a delayed route, where he acts as if he's going to block, then slips out into the flat for the ball. When Wallace throws the ball to Mason, though, Christian Robinson has snuffed the play out, and proceeds to deliver a devastating blow to Mason that essentially acted as the nail in the coffin in terms of the Tigers having any hope at fighting their way back into the game. Robinson, of course, received a number of congratulations from his teammates on his hard hit. Overshadowed by Robinson's haymaker, though, is the play of the four guys who rushed the quarterback. Jarvis Jones dropped back into coverage, with Grantham opting to blitz Damian Swann from the nickelback position, along with the Jenkins duo and Washington. Because of the alignment on the play, the left tackle takes Big Bad John, the center takes Washington, and the left guard isn't exactly sure who he should block...so he blocks no one. The right tackle takes Jordan Jenkins, and the right guard offers initial help there, then pulls off trying to give help to the center with Washington, but he's too late as Washington is already past him and collapsing the pocket. Jordan Jenkins makes a nice spin to the outside, getting past his blocker just as Mason vacates the pocket to slip out into the flat. Ideally, Wallace would've been able to deliver the pass here, with Mason still having a few yards in space. Unfortunately for the Tigers, though, the confusion with the personnel matchups allowed Washington and Jordan Jenkins to collapse the pocket, causing Wallace to have to move around to avoid being sacked. This delay in delivering the ball to Mason gives Christian Robinson time to sniff out the pass, and deliver the perfectly timed hit as soon as Mason catches the ball. Take a look at the play here:
Without the enablers collapsing the pocket on this play, Wallace would've been able to deliver the ball on time, and Mason would've been able to catch the ball in space, allowing him time to react and make a few moves before Robinson could get to him. As it occurred, though, the delay gave Robinson the extra time he needed to close on the play, blowing it up before it could go anywhere. Robinson gets the credit, Jenkins, Washington, and Jenkins, get nothing more than a pat on the back from their coaches in the film room this week.
There are numerous examples of this happening every week, so be sure to continue to look for the enablers during the game, as they play a major role in our defense being as effective as it has been the past few weeks. Be sure to check in next Tuesday for the next edition of the TVB, and, as always...