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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Those Who Don't Study History...

I have a story in today's Telegraph on the importance of the linebackers for Georgia this week.

In doing the reporting for the story, I didn't exactly get the warm fuzzies from the Bulldogs' comments about stopping the Gators. The keys to the game, they say, are many of the same things that they have struggled with the most this year -- stopping play-action, gap discipline, tackling.

And here's reason No. 1 for concern, and try not to throw up in your mouth after reading it:

Looking at Florida's offense -- a strong run game and a short passing attack that focuses on its tight end -- and wondered if the Gators might not end up looking a lot like South Carolina did earlier this season. As it turned out, Darryl Gamble had another analogy, and it's not one that offers tons of encouragement.

“Florida, they’ll try to give you a lot of misdirectional stuff," he said. "It’s more of playing like a Georgia Tech team. You’ve got to play your thing, what you’ve got to do. If you’ve got to stay in this gap, stay in this gap. It’s just more misdirectional stuff, so if your eyes are good, you should be good.”

Yikes. Um, that Georgia Tech game last year didn't go so well. And playing with your eyes? I felt like I had heard that before, so I went back to some comments made by Rennie Curran a few weeks ago and found what I was looking for.

“That’s another thing that comes from watching film. It’s eye progression and being disciplined. There are certain keys that give away that play-action, and those keys, you only know them if you study film, watch tendencies and know down and distance. Play-action is all about discipline in where your eyes go and knowing what you’re seeing.”

That's what Curran said after the Tennessee game when he complained that perhaps his teammates weren't spending enough time in the film room. Using their eyes has hardly been a strength this year.

The good news is, they've had an extra week to get in the film room for this game, so perhaps it will be a better overall effort that Georgia has seen previously. But Curran isn't arguing with Gamble's analysis. Regardless of Florida's struggles, this is a tough team to play -- not just physically, but mentally.

“They’re going to try to beat you deep, do different things to get you out of position, especially with having Tebow," Curran said. "They’re going to go to that spread and then Tebow’s going to try to run it. It just puts you on your heels a little bit more as far as not making mistakes and executing, making plays.”

Having said that, the road to success might not be as arduous as it used to be against Florida, and the key to stopping the Gators' offense, Curran said, isn't what most commentators will tell you. The key for Georgia's D? Make Tebow beat you.

“You want to put pressure on the quarterback to where he feels like he needs to make that extra play, make those extra yards," Curran said. "That’s pretty much what I’ve seen teams that have gotten Tebow to do – when he feels like he has to put the team on his back, he’s more prone to make a mistake.”

That's what Curran has learned from the past few weeks of watching the Gators. But how about defensive coordinator Willie Martinez? Here's a bit of what he had to say about this week's matchup…

On whether there is anything he can take, scheme-wise, from the success that Arkansas and Mississippi State had against Florida...

“Not really. They just played really well, really hard – the same things you say each and every week. The thing those guys did was they executed really well, they played really hard, they had those turnovers. Any time you’re turning the ball over, your opponent is going to have a good chance of winning. Arkansas played really hard, really well. Their defensive line played really well in the game. That’s what I saw. So you’re going into the ballgame, it’s the same thing. You want to try to control the line of scrimmage because that’s where it starts. They run the football. They set up the play-action pass really well. They have tremendous speed. They have great talent on the offensive side of the ball. You’ve just got to be patient and force them to execute and force them into third down-and-long situations, then once you get them into third down, you need to be successful.”

On working more this week to try to stop the play-action after struggling so badly against it in weeks past…

“We do that every week and it didn’t just start this week. You work on the things that hurt you in the previous game or throughout the season, and obviously build on the things you do really well. That’s no different. Prior to the Tennessee game, we did that. So we just have to play solid defense from the standpoint of lining up, fitting up right, making plays, forcing them into long yardage, and that means you have to do a really good job on first and second down and play-action. That’s always been part of their offense and why they’re so effective.”

On stopping Tim Tebow in the red zone this year after allowing him to rush for five touchdowns in the past two seasons…

“We’ve got to tackle better. We know he’s going to get the ball at those times, and you just have to make plays. He’s a very good player. If he wasn’t, we wouldn’t be talking about him every week. So you have to give him credit – he’s very talented and very tough. Our guys are looking forward to playing him, and you’ve just got to execute, play with an edge and play with a physicality that you need, especially in a game like this.”

On whether Florida's struggles in the vertical game mean he might challenge the Gators more, similar to what Mississippi State did by running a cover-zero last week…

“I don’t want to speak schematically, but the people that have had success and even our success when we beat them in ’07, it’s really the style that you play, the mentality you play with, the attitude you bring on every play. You’ve got to play physical. They’re a very talented football team, but we try not to make it about them. It’s really more about us and what we can do to help our team win. We know they’re tremendously talented on offense, but Mississippi State and Arkansas, they’re just playing hard, playing fast, making plays, forcing the quarterback to make poor decisions, whether it’s a breakdown in protection or just playing harder and faster. They just played really hard and really fast. That’s the key for us is to play that style, play that fast, play that hard and force the offense to get negative plays or keep them in long yardage.”


Sam said...

"Play hard, fast ... use your eyes." This repetitive jargon reminds me of this:

Anonymous said...

Soooo Willie left me with no kind of confidence on our D going into this game. Guess I have to sit back and hope to god that we "play hard" and "play fast" whata joke.

UGA69Dawg said...

Monte Kiffin schooled UF on how to defeat their misdirection. He actually spied the backside for the reverse. UGA on the other hand has it's DE's take a sharp angle rush in order to protect against runs inside thus taking themselves out of the pitches and reverses. When it comes to misdirection we have in the immortal words of POGO met the enemy and they are us.

do not resuscitate said...

I don't know, Willie just sounds like an idiot in those quotes. Like he's not really sure how exactly to stop the Gators offense, even though it's quite obvious that some of the other DC's have laid down a pretty good game plan. Rennie talks about the players watching more game film, but it seems like Willie needs to sit down with some film as well. Playing hard does not make everything okay, doesn't make it all magically work when it hasn't worked for several weeks now.

Anonymous said...

If, after how other teams have defensed the gators all season long, we use the same defense as we have always used, the defensive coaches should just stay in Jacksonville. Richt can stay also. I guess this is how Custer behaved.

"Listen, that is the sound of inevitability." Agent Smith, Matrix

The Watch Dawg said...

I obviously do not expect Willie to give away anything in terms of scheme in an interview before the actual game... but damn, is it just me that feels after reading those quotes that Willie just doesn't "get it?"

The remarks about not being able to take anything away schematically from the Arky-MSU v. Florida games, and about just playing the same... sounds stubborn and arrogant, as if he is insistent doing the same things that haven't been working and hoping for a better result. That's the definition of insanity folks.

I hope I'm wrong and he's just trying to make the Gators think he's going to do the same things.

Anonymous said...

Not that I have great faith, but let's see what Willie does, not what he says.

David, it would be great if you did post-game post on any defensive adjustments we made.