First, from Joe Cox, who I asked about criticism aimed at assistant coaches. Here's what he said regarding Willie Martinez...
"In 2007, everybody was worried that Coach Martinez was going to get a head-coaching job somewhere, and he was going to be gone. Our defense had a great year, and then it's like when things start going bad, he's still running the exact same thing. He still coaches the same way. We're just not carrying it out like those teams have in the past."Next, from Mark Richt, who addressed Georgia's lack of pressure on Johnathan Crompton...
“Most of the time when they were throwing the ball, where they had the most success was on the run downs. A great majority of their success came off the boot action… It was mostly hard running-game fakes. … It’s more difficult to get a great pass rush on a guy when you’re dealing with those kinds of things. Most sacks happen on third down, and we just didn’t get them in many of those. And they did a nice job of blocking.”And finally, from Martinez, who addressed why Tennessee was so successful...
“I just think they executed really well and we didn’t. They did a nice job of mixing it up early on. We had opportunities to make plays and we didn’t. We got outcoached, outplayed, and they played really well and Tennessee deserves a lot of credit. … It kept us off balance. We were trying to bring pressure at times, but it seems like they were doing a great job of mixing it up. We weren’t able to get off the field and make plays. They out-executed us, out-coached us and out-played us, bottom line.”Now, I'm guessing most of you already see the relationship between those three quotes, but let's point it out anyway.
Quote 1 boils down to: Martinez does the same things he's always done.
Quote 2 boils down to: Tennessee did some things that aren't "the norm" and that made it hard to get pressure.
Quote 3 boils down to: Georgia couldn't get pressure and so Tennessee was successful.
Now, I'm not exactly putting a ton of stock in Cox's analysis of Georgia's offense. Martinez is not Cox's coach, after all. But I've heard essentially the exact same quote from at least a half-dozen players or coaches in the past two years, so I'm inclined to believe it's valid.
And here's the problem: Martinez is doing the same things he's always done, but the rest of the SEC is not. Tennessee didn't. Georgia Tech hasn't. Kentucky didn't. Florida sure as heck isn't.
How many programs were running the spread in 2005, when Martinez took over the defense? How much has Georgia Tech's offense changed since then? How many QBs stand back in the pocket these days? Heck, how many even start out under center?
Georgia has been burned repeatedly by mobile QBs, by play-action, by diverse offenses. But the problem is, those things aren't the exception anymore. They're almost the rule.
The coaching in the SEC has changed. The offenses in the SEC have changed. The talent level in the SEC has changed.
I know Cox was trying to defend Martinez in his quote, but it comes out sounding more like an indictment.
Football is like any other business. In fact, take it from a guy who works in a dying industry -- if you're staying the same, you're falling behind.