Kind of a buzzkill -- but maybe when they finally do make the switch, they'll keep secondary coach Scott Lakatos's innovative new "stay within five yards of your guy and actually know where the ball is whilst doing so" coverage scheme, which, after five years of Willie Martinez "Widespread Panic Dancer" defenses in Athens probably looked like the black monolith at the beginning of "2001" to Georgia's beleaguered fan base. Also, the "black" team wore white jerseys, which is sad and adorable at the same time, because when is Georgia ever, ever going to break out those black jerseys again?
Georgia opens spring practice today, and all signs are the Bulldogs will be the next defense to jump on the 3-4 bandwagon, scrapping the standard 4-3 set for the leaner look preferred by new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. That shift means a slew of position changes -- tackles moving outside to end, ends moving to outside linebacker, etc. -- but the biggest change for UGA fans is still the absence of former coordinator Willie Martinez, whose unit declined statistically from the previous season in each of his five seasons.
Richt said he has done his best to soak in some new ideas that Grantham and fellow first-year assistants Scott Lakatos and Warren Belin have brought to the table, too.
"It’s a healthy exchange of ideas," Richt said. "A lot of times you spend a lot of money to fly around to different schools to get details of what’s going on, but how much can you get in a one- or two-day period compared to a guy just being there, living there."
Richt has already decided to implement two suggestions of his new staff.
First, he’ll be going back to a Monday through Thursday practice schedule, with walk-throughs on Fridays. Last season he had the team practice on Sunday and gave the players Monday off, but he’s since reconsidered the plan in light of some input from his new assistants.
Grantham also suggested revamping the daily meeting schedules, so rather than open with special teams work, Richt will address the entire team first, then break off into special teams and segment meetings. Richt said it’s a schedule used in the NFL and makes organizing meetings much simpler.
Here's something you'll no doubt hear at some point from someone: Two of Cox's interceptions and Gray's pick led to Florida points -- 17 of them in fact. So maybe Willie Martinez can't be blamed as much, given that the D only "really" allowed 24 points.
But you know what? I can't believe Cox throws that second pick if Georgia isn't so far behind. It was third down. It was midfield. They were trailing by 14. Cox had to make a play. A punt would have effectively signaled the end of a comeback, too. And his third INT? It was a bad throw, but it was made amid a furious and utterly fruitless attempt to keep the Dawgs in the game. And Gray's pick? Well, if the D had played better, maybe Gray isn't even in the game.
So this week, the defense gets cut no slack. I'm going to say the D was responsible for the offense turning the ball over so much. If the D had done its job in the first half, the situation in the second half is completely different. No excuses for Willie this week.