It's Bulldog Club tour season, the time of year during which Mark Richt and his staff load up the ole family Truckster and head out on the road to talk post-spring football. One well-chronicled snippet from Coach Richt's talk in Gainesville this week caught my attention.
Coach Richt mentioned that one focus of this offseason's strength and conditioning regimen will be getting smaller, or really, more agile. Richt noted that at times during 2013 his defense was out of position when playing against offenses that spread the field and force defenders to play in space. He didn't want to list specific games, but if he wasn't talking about Missouri and Auburn then, well, he wasn't paying much attention during the Missouri and Auburn games.
You may recall that a couple of years ago when Todd Grantham came aboard one of his first orders of business was actually to beef up the Bulldog defense. Gone were the speedy Marcus Howard-type defenders. Linebackers went from the 210-230 pound range to 240-260. Gone were the 280 pound interior defensive linemen of the Van Gorder/Martinez 4-3, replaced with guys like Kwame Geathers and John Jenkins. I think it was Heraclitus, or perhaps Kyle King, who said nothing is constant except change and Auburn cheating. So here we are once again laboring at the training table and in the weight room to turn square pegs into round ones.
Bear Bryant once famously ribbed Auburn's Shug Jordan by pointing out that when Alabama had a fast team that won Jordan started to recruit faster players, but when the Tide won with power Jordan seemed to stock up on big men. Everything is cyclical in football. There's no one way to win, other than to have a plan and execute it better than the guys across the line of scrimmage. To beat his with yours or yours with his, in the words of the late, great Bum Phillips.
This great slim down is a great idea until somebody lines up in a two tight end set and runs us over. Then we'll be rushing to get bigger again. It will happen eventually because, again, football is cyclical and novelty is an advantage. I continue to believe that if someone came out in the wishbone and ran the old Oklahoma option, people would go nuts for about 6 weeks trying to stop it. Just don't tell Mike Bobo I said that.
If Jeremy Pruitt needs faster players to do what he wants defensively then I hope he can find or mold them. But it won't be th critical factor in the success of the Georgia defense in 2014. That will be the speed with which Bulldog defenders pick up what Pruitt's doing. That won't show up on the scales. It will become apparent on August 30th against Clemson. Until later....