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Thoughts on personnel changes on D

January 16, 2010

This is going to be a very exciting Spring for Georgia fans, because with the change to a base 3-4 defensive scheme, comes a lot of changes in personnel. One of, if not the most important, components of the 3-4 is the nose tackle. He’s got to be big enough that he won’t get taken out of the play both two interior O-linemen, but athletic enough to cover both of the A-gaps. As coach Grantham noted, he doesn’t have to be over 300 lbs, as they’re doing it in Dallas with a 295 pound NT, but as you can see from watching Alabama’s D play, a big nose tackle certainly helps. So who have we got on the roster that fills the need?

Kwame Geathers is certainly big enough. At 6’6″ and 326 lbs (if he hasn’t dropped weight), he’s the biggest guy on our roster. But remember that he was also poorly conditioned and out of shape when he stepped on campus last Fall. No telling if he’s improved enough to where you want him playing the key defensive position. For my money, I’m thinking DeAngelo Tyson may end up being the guy.

Defensive ends in the 3-4 scheme are usually bigger than they are in a 4-3, because they have to take on more blockers more directly, and are really more defensive tackle than your typical edge-rushing d-end. Demarcus Dobbs and Justin Houston could really thrive at this position, because it suits their big size and physical power-rushing game. We might see some of the smaller D-ends moved to outside linebacker, which is where many smallish defensive ends move to when they go to a 3-4 defense in the NFL. And in looking at the roster, that’s probably going to be a necessity anyway, as our number of players at D-line and linebacker reflect the numbers you’d expect to see on a 4-3 defensive team, not a 3-4.

As you might have guessed already, your linebacker corps is going to look a lot different next season too. You can expect guys like Akeem Dent and Marcus Dowtin to stay at middle linebacker, but they’ll likely be joined by some of the guys that were previously playing on the outside (like Darryl Gamble). The reason being is that in a 3-4, your outside backers can’t just be speed pursuit guys. Because there are only 3 D-linemen in front of them, they’re going to have to fight off blocks, which is why (as I noted before) you see a lot of DE’s moving to OLB in the NFL. And because there are 4 linebackers, they can spread out along the line further, so speed on the outside isn’t as vital as it is in a 4-3 defense where there are only 3 linebackers to cover runs to the outside. Your inside linebackers are going to be either in coverage or running downhill toward the ball. The changes don’t bode well for the smaller linebackers like Chase Vasser, or Nick Williams for that matter. Coach Grantham did mention that they might keep the nickel package though, so that might be Williams’ niche.

The secondary will remain the same, as the positions are no different from 4-3, but the defensive backs can expect to get more opportunities to blitz. One of the virtues of the 3-4 is that having 4 linebackers allows the defense to disguise coverage better and blitz from the corner or safety positions more than you would see in a 4-3.  I’m betting Boykin and Rambo will be looking forward to that.

Anyway, just some things to ponder. Personally, I can’t wait for the G-day game. And how many times have we ever gone to the G-day game intrigued by what the DEFENSE would look like?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. ScooBoo permalink
    January 16, 2010 8:02 pm

    The last I read, Geathers has dropped weight and is in much better shape than when he came in.

    • Rum-Dawg Millionaire permalink*
      January 17, 2010 1:20 am

      Yeah, I’ve heard he’s made great strides in that department as well, but I don’t know if he’s caught up to someone like Tyson. I’ll be interested to see what he weighs in at in camp.

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