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November 24, 2010

The Struggles Start Up Front

What's the difference between Van Gorder's saw blades of doom and the Martinez/Grantham* sieves?  I'll give you a few hints: David Pollock, Kedric Golston, Quentin Moses, Marcus Howard, Charles Johnson and Will Thompson.  Those are the defensive lineman who were on the roster in 2004, Van Gorder's last year.  All of those guys went on to leave a lasting impression on opposing quarterbacks and offensive linemen as players you had to scheme around.  If you didn't, your offense was going to get disrupted and the defensive back seven would make plays on you.  This was the cornerstone to those great defenses of the early 2000's.  Get pressure with four and let the back seven reap the benefits. (Image: Dean Legge at Dawg Post.)

I would argue that one of the chief culprits in the current defensive erosion into mediocrity has been the inability to get pressure with our four down linemen.  That has been a direct result of the recruiting battles we have both won and lost in the period of 2005 to 2008. Of all the defensive line recruits in that period signed by Georgia who were from the State of Georgia, only one has been an outstanding player: Justin Houston.  All the rest of our Georgia recruits were either average players, nonqualifiers, discipline casualties, medical casualties, or are too young to evaluate (including almost our entire DL this year).  That group includes Corey Moon, Brandon Sesay, Rod Battle, Brandon Wood, Michael Lemon, Demarcus Dobbs, Neland Ball, DeAngelo Tyson, Toby Jackson, and Cornelius Washington.

In compiling that list though, I was surprised to see how few good recruits the State of Georgia turned out in that four year period.  The Peach State has an excellent record of producing defensive lineman, as evidenced by the group on the 2004 roster.  Between 2005 and 2008, though, the state produced zero D-line All-Americans and only three first team all-conference players: Eric Norwood (an All-American and All-SEC outside LB at South Carolina), Allen Bailey (All-ACC at Miami), and Cam Heyward (All-Big 10 at Ohio State).  Jermaine Cunningham was a second team All-SEC selection at Florida.  So, of all the DL prospects in Georgia, only three were difference makers on the D-line and we missed on all but one. 

What does this tell us?  First, it shows that the talent pool in Georgia over the past few years was much more limited than in the 2000-2004 classes.  Second, when there was a prominent prospect on the board, we weren't likely to get them. (See also, Kyle Moore and Omar Hunter.)

Until we can start to land serious D-line prospects, either from our state or otherwise, I wouldn't expect the defense to get substantially more intimidating.  And if Georgia isn't producing them, we have to find them elsewhere.


*It's unfair to lump Grantham in with Willie, but so far, the defense ain't much better than last year.  Some progress is evident, but we have a long, long way to go.


JasonC said...

Wasn't Kade Weston supposed to be one of those guys (not local) or Brandon Wood?
I thought I remember writing down a 2 deep depth chart with recruiting ranks. As I did so, I was a little shocked at the underproduction of a few guys (some which you noted). It's far for a scientific method, but it did expose some differences between expectations and reality.

Anonymous said...

Omar Hunter was willing to come to Georgia, at least for a while. We lost out on him and our refusal to over sign played a role.

David Pollack was recruited as a FB. Charles Johnson was recruited as a RB. Kedric Golston did not come on until late in his career, and the same can be said for Marcus Howard (under Willie).

This is a great analysis, and I appreciate the legwork. But Georgia seems to be a step behind on too many little things these days (see, Samuel, Richard; compare Thorton, Bruce)

Goallinestalker said...

Pollack was a 3 star fullback. Last yrs. D-line has 3 players in the NFL. Atkins,Owens,Weston. My question is how can Pollack go from a last resort scholarship to 3 time All-American? Coaching? Heart? Reshad Jones got his first NFL start the other night so we must have some NFL talent?I honestly believe we have the talent, however player development remains the big issue.

Anonymous said...

But by all means, don't let Rodney Garner go . . .

He's been terrible for the past 4 years.

TP said...

Love the kid, but the fact that Demarcus Dobbs has been a starter for as long as he has tells you a lot about our program right now.

Pl0we said...

Also, Garner sucks as a defensive line coach.

Dobbs is horrible

HiAltDawg said...

Excellent, excellent post -- I'm gonna mull this over with the Woodford Boys and lots and lots of ice.

Dubbayoo said...

Texas ends up 5-7 this year. Anyone still want Muschamp now?

Anonymous said...

I heard a rumour there might be a black out tomorrow? Go Dawgs!

Anonymous said...

I hate you so much Anon 1210

Anonymous said...

Production of D-line is the key, not recruiting. You're trying to provide evidence that isn't there.

Pollack: FB that wasn't highly recruited.

Moses: Local kid that wasn't highly recruited. (3-star)

Howard: LB (and a light one at the time) that was MOVED to D-line and taught the position.

Thompson: Can't remember his recruitment. At all.

We've recruited great DTs and coached up the DEs over the years.


Quinton McDawg said...

I'm not limiting my search to any star status. Norwood was a three star recruit and listed as a big recruiting miss.

My point is that we have struggled with production along the DL in recent years and haven't had a frightening pass rusher or run stuffer in the past several years other than Houston. One reason suggested is that Georgia hasn't produced many stud DL recruits in the past five years who went anywhere, not just UGA, whether they were highly rated prospects or not.

Our best recent recruits and players along the DL have been out-of-staters. None were fearsome pass rushers.

JJBA said...

DE Robert Geathers has had a very good NFL career. When he declared early for the NFL draft he wasn't even a starter!!! Thompson and Pollack were ahead of him. Thats where we were talent and depth wise.

Dawgsrus said...

Georgia defense has taken a beaten these last few years with lack of talet and players jumping pro and then they hire Todd Gratham to implement this 3-4 defense which I' not to highly of.If I had my pick on a defensive cooridinator I would rather pick Will Muschamp I like the way he's one with his players,he's always has his boys ready to play.

boxing gloves said...

Omar Hunter was willing to come to Georgia, at least for a while. We lost out on him and our refusal to over sign played a role.

cricket bat said...

Those are the defensive lineman who were on the roster in 2004, Van Gorder's last year.

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