Georgia Sports Blog FanShop

December 30, 2009

UGA's defensive coordinator search

Given how close to the vest Coach Richt is playing this, his search could center on anyone, and we'd struggle to know it. However, the rumors about the search now clearly center on John Chavis.

Chris Low from has a lengthy piece about Richt's potential interest in Chavis. Dean Legge of follows that piece (Premium) up with additional information which suggests that Chavis looks to be the front runner. Despite his comments to his players that he was staying. Miles says UGA is interested, but he hasn't spoken to Richt.

I would personally be excited with a Chavis hire. Consider some stats:

UT '08 with
John Chavis
UT '09 with
Monte Kiffin
Scoring Defense 16.75 21
Total Defense 263.5 308.83
Rush Defense 103.08 142.92
Pass Defense 160.42 165.92
Sacks / game 1.92 1.67
Interceptions (Season) 17 9
3rd Down Conversions* 37.1 34.12

LSU '08
w/o Chavis
LSU '09
with Chavis
Scoring Defense 24.15 16
Total Defense 325.54 326.58
Rush Defense 110.15 142.92
Pass Defense 215.38 192.42
Sacks / game 2.15 1.67
Interceptions (Season) 8 13
3rd Down Conversions 31.15 36.76

Overall, the stats above aren't an attempt to say that John Chavis is better or worse than Monte Kiffin. However, it does provide some context for what Chavis did his last year in Knoxville vs. what Old Man Kiffin did this year in a season that brought him widespread acclaim.

Particularly of note, you'll hear UT fans say that their defense is more aggressive under Monte. Maybe, but the sacks, interceptions, points allowed and yards allowed certainly don't reflect that aggression this year.

It's also interesting to see what Chavis did with the LSU defense from '08 to '09. If we could get that sort of directional improvement, we would be in terrific shape.

The downside of Chavis is the "Third and Chavis" situation. Vol fans will tell you his defenses were historically bad on third downs. The stats don't show a man who is a lock down guy on 3rd down that's for sure. The '06 and '07 UT units were particularly bad in this area, but then again...the '07 UT defense was bad at everything. It's a legit concern.

However, one thing isn't a concern and that's points allowed. Since 1998, only one John Chavis coached defense has allowed more than 20 points per game. That's very, very strong. As a point of comparison, Georgia's defense the past three seasons allowed 25.9 ('09), 24.5 ('08) and 20.1 ('07) points per game. When you get below 20 points per game, good things start to happen, and Chief Chavis keeps the scoring numbers low.

Over the past week or so, two people we usually get great info from have said they would put their money on Chavis. but it isn't a done deal yet. Also, it's interesting that Rodney Garner told Reshad Jones to keep an open mind about the new DC. If we could bring in someone that would feature him like UT features Eric Berry, he should stay. It's a pretty easy sell to Jones that Chavis knows how to showcase Eric Berry. Especially considering that Berry had 3 sacks and 12 interceptions while playing for Chavis (2 years), but 0 sacks and only 2 interceptions playing for Kiffin for one year.

I'm not saying. I'm just saying.



Unknown said...

Let's see, zero bowl posts... then a hoops one, followed by more gushing over another (this time rival) coach we probably won't even hire. Yep, that's pretty much what I've come to expect from this blog alright. Top notch stuff!

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

I would not consider the downturn in Berry's stats to Kiffin. It might be that teams schemed to avoid him.

murphdawg said...

Just for argument's sake, Chavis coached defense vs Urban Meyer: 0-5.

Unknown said...

Well Florida hasn't exactly lost to any DC in the past few years on a consistent basis. If you can find that guy then call me.

Unknown said...

Oh and as for the blog not posting on the bowl... who cares. We won, there is nothing else to talk about. We need to worry about next year not our huge win VS a .500 big 12 team in the I Bowl....

Bugsy said...

well, in response to murph, i would have to say that chavis was coaching much, much less talented teams than florida at the times he played them...florida peaked while UT was down.

He was also 7-3 against UGA, who has an offense more similar to that which most teams have.

Dubbayoo said...

Not that Reshad lit up the conference this year but why do people think he's staying? He was 50/50 on going last year. I can't see someone wavering two years in a row...unless his NFL report came back 4th round or something.

Mr. Bulldawg said...

Doug Plank.

BulldogBry said...

Points allowed vs 3rd and long.

Which is really more important in the end?

Charlie Dodson said...

David, take it easy. The guys who run the blog were obviously in Shreveport for the game. There are other outlets available if you want Independence Bowl recaps.

Quinton McDawg said...

This was a Jimmy Sexton move. Chavis is supposed to get a raise tomorrow.

I think we won't know anything until Richt tells us. Anybody who says they have inside info is guessing or throwing out bait.

Ben Dukes said...

From my own blog:

Folks are jumping on the John Chavis train right now as the most likely choice for UGA's new DC. He's certainly a step up from Willie Martinez, and he's a proven solid commodity in the SEC.

Now that I've gotten past that....

People were upset about the points total that Martinez's teams seem to give up, particularly in blowout losses to Tennessee and Florida. And I can certainly understand that. In one year, John Chavis was able to bring LSU's ppg surrendered down from 24.15 to 16. That's pretty good. The same kind of improvement for UGA next year would bring us down to around 18ppg. Anything below 20 is good....and I'd love to see us below 15 again.

That being said, there's another obstacle Georgia must overcome, and that is beating Florida. Richt is now 2-8 against the Gators. Chavis was the DC at Tennessee from 1995-2008. In that stretch, the Vols were 4-10 against the Gators. In comparison, the Dawgs were 3-11 under at least 5 different Defensive Coordinators in that span. In games against Florida at TN, Chavis's defenses surrendered an average of 30.2 ppg. This season, LSU under Chavis held FL to 13, only his fourth sub-20 point contest against the Gators.

From 1995-2008, UGA averaged giving up 29.7ppg to the Gators. This season, we surrendered 41.

What do these numbers tell me? Well, I dunno. Chavis can probably improve our defense. The improvement shown by LSU would suggest that. But, in our goal to once again be dominant in the east, I'm not sure he'll bring us that.

Against Spurrier at USC, Chavis' UT defense went 2-2, averaging 22.75 points surrendered from 2005-2008. LSU didn't play USC this season. UGA went 3-1 in that span, averaging 9.5 surrendered. Better players at UGA than TN? Possibly. Kentucky and Vandy aren't real then the question becomes, can Chavis stop TN? He'll have to be better than Martinez, but is he the best possible candidate? That's not for me to decide.

All I'm saying is, if Chavis IS the hire, before we go trumpeting the new glory in Athens, let's go ahead and circle that date in Jacksonville. We will have played 8 games by then, and even if we're 8-0, we won't have a difinitive answer on Chavis until after that game. Our pass rush improved greatly this season, so I expect that to continue...and the young talent in the defensive backfield really came along as well. If Chavis is the guy, he'll have some high quality safeties (with or without Jones) and corners to work with. So then it comes down to playing a Florida team which will be rebuilding a bit...but 8 games in, they'll be potent. If we beat Florida and keep their points below 20, we'll have something to be happy about. If we don't, then we'll have plenty of reason to question the move.

We fired Martinez so that we could get a DC who will bring us back to being a Championship defense. Chavis's defenses are two-for-five in SEC Championship games, with both wins coming more than a decade ago (one led to TN being given the first ever BCS Championship). Many fans who speak against Richt say that he came into the league when the coaching talent was less than it was today. The same would then hold true for the championship years for TN. In three SEC Championship game appearances this decade, Chavis' defense has averaged 30ppg surrendered.

In Georgia's three SECCG appearances, we averaged 17ppg surrendered.

Different years, different teams, apples, oranges...I know all of this. My point is simply that in the same coaching atmosphere, in the same division of the conference, we can hardly say that Chavis has done remarkably better than our own defensive coaches did, in so much as creating a "Championship Program."

But hey, no contracts have been signed yet. Maybe we'll get Mike Tomlin to leave the Steelers. He's gotta want a bigger challenge.

Go Dawgs.

Anonymous said...


You raise valid concerns, but a couple of points:

First, I don't think it's fair to lump stats from the 1995 version of John Chavis (age 39) with no prior DC experience going against 1995 Steve Spurrier at the top of his game into any argument about what kind of DC he would be today against Urban Meyer.

That's just completely irrelevant. Hell, he allowed an average of 43.3 years in those first few contests against 3 Gator teams...two of which played for the National Title.

Those first few years at UT are sort of a case study in why you don't hire a DC for on the job training. We should go get someone proven. And Chavis' HC in those early days wasn't helping Chavis on his side of the ball like the early versions of Muschamp and Kirby working with Saban.

I'll address the 2nd point in a second post.

Anonymous said...


Part II of my retort.

You bring up a good point about Chavis struggling with Urban Meyer over the past 5 years. At LSU and UT, his teams gave up an average of 27.8 points per game to UF. As a point of comparison, UGA gave up 31 during those 5 years.

However, consider this:
2005 - UT held Meyer's offense 12.58 points below their scoring average. The Gator offense only had 247 total yards including 1.8 yards per carry on the ground. Chavis' D held them to 1 TD.

2006 - UT held Meyer's offense 7.7 points below their average. They only allowed 320 yards of total offense which was well below UF's total. They lost the game because they turned it over twice and because Brandon James averaged 16.3 yards per punt return including a pivotal 35 yard return that set up a huge TD.

2007 - Tennessee's defense stunk in '07. You can't sugar coat anything that happened that season defensively nor can you sugarcoat the 59 points allowed.

2008 - Held UF's offense to 13.6 points below their average for the season. Only surrendered 2 offensive TDs to the Gators. The other points came off FGs and a Brandon James 78 yard punt return for TD. Held the Gators to 243 yards of total offense which was 202 yards below their season average. No other coaching staff got close to that sort of results against the Gator Offense including Ole Miss who beat them.

2009 at LSU - LSU Defense held the Gators to 21 points below their season average. Held them to one offensive touchdown. Only Bama looked better against UF's offense. And LSU doesn't have Bama's defensive talent and is in Year 1 of this system.

Said differently -- I would ask you...who has done better against Meyer the past 5 years in more than 1 attempt?

I'd take Chavis' results against Meyer in 4 of those 5 games in a HEART BEAT.

Anonymous said...

And when I say...who has done better...I mean more than just averages and stats. When you actually look at what transpired in those games.

Who had 4 games defensively better than Chavis against Meyer's offense over that 4 year period?

The Watch Dawg said...

Chavis would be a great hire and a definite improvement.

I've seen it written in a couple of places that Chavis' wife owns a store or something in Knoxville and that she didn't move with him to Baton Rouge... anyone know if that's true? If so, that could be another reason why a move to Athens would be appealing.

Anonymous said...

Tubberville did pretty well against the Florida D in more than one attempt ;)

Ben Dukes said...

I certainly won't argue with Chavis' success in recent years against Meyers' offense....that's relative success, anyway. When you hold a team 13 points under its average, but still give up 30, that's nothing to be excited about.

And putting the "4 game rule" on me will prevent bringing up Bo Pellini (as will his job as Nebraska's HC - because he would have no interest in the job) though in his three attempts, he was 2-1 against Meyer, with an avg of 21ppg surrendered.

Also - and I haven't gotten into deep analysis (looking into special teams scores, or scores by the defense), but am looking purely at scoreboard finals here -
in Chavis' five games against FL, he has a 1-4 record, the same as Martinez. In the first three years, TN was 1-2 against FL, giving up 32ppg. UGA was 1-2 against FL, giving up 21.7 ppg.

In the past two seasons, UGA gave up an avg of 45ppg, and Chavis' D (TN then LSU) avgd 21.5ppg surrendered.

I don't know if I just made the case for Chavis or not, but it looks like he's gotten ahead of the curve against Meyer. Definitely will make me feel better about the hire if it happens.

Unknown said...

pelini did ok in 3 tries (2-1, about 21 ppg). i dont think uga could get him though :)

Crane said...

And chavis is staying at lsu

Matt B. said...

So far, this search is a disaster. Obviously the right hire could still be out there, but it's very frustrating to see these big names thrown out there and then have them say no.

Macon Dawg said...

Matt B., I know it's frustrating, I feel your pain.

But I don't think the fact that a lot of us find it personally frustrating means it's a disaster. That's like saying your prom is a disaster because Megan Fox turned you down and you're just going to have to ask the head cheerleader instead. If she says yes, disaster averted.

I'll declare it a disaster when we hire Chuck Amato and he brings Jon Tenuta and Kevin Ramsey along for the ride. Until then, I'm judging the process based on the end result.

Ben Dukes said...

Yeah, the news today is that Chavis was offered a big raise last night to turn the Georgia offer down. It's one of those things where it's hard to pull a solid guy LATERALLY. Why would a DC from a successful program come to another program if the team he is with will pony up the same dough? You won't find many who are going to do that. Thus, Foster and Chavis are staying put. It may be getting annoying, but at least Richt is going through the proper paces in conducting this search. I've heard fans who were ridiculous enough to suggest that since we dominated A&M, Garner should be the DC. I love Rodney Garner, I played for him, but if Richt doesn't believe he's the right man, I'm certainly not going to argue.

The Search continues.....

Skeptic Dawg said...

Matt B...we do not know if an offer was actually give to Chavis. UGA, nor CMR, have not said a word about ANY potential DC hire. I fall in line with Quinton. I believe that these guys (1st ole Bud and now Chavis) are simply leveraging money money from their current school. IMO, it will come down to Smart and BVG. Could be completely off base, but that is what I beleive.

Sunshine said...

He would've been a great hire. I was excited about the possibility, but just had this sneaking suspicion he wasn't coming. I just didn't see why he would leave LSU (who's won a NC recently, and who probably has better overall defensive talent) for us. I really, really wish he had, but it seemed too good to be true. He was just using us to get a raise. It sucks that we got used like an Orange Pride hostess, but that's the way the game is played.

I still think we're gonna get a great DC... because as I've stated before, a DC job at a top 5 SEC team, and top 15 program in the nation, is a highly coveted job. We've gone after 2 of the best DCs in the country and haven't gotten them. Oh well. That's what happens when you aim for the best - you win some, you lose some. Either way, I LOVE that we're aiming high and not settling for promoting Gardner. We'll see what happens, but I still think we're gonna get a dang good coach.

Mike said...

So far, this search is a disaster. Obviously the right hire could still be out there, but it's very frustrating to see these big names thrown out there and then have them say no.

Funny how the "Fire ______!" stuff isn't as easy as the people always quick to call for it think it is.

Bugsy said...

Personally, I'm kinda pulling for a Todd Grantham hire here.

It makes sense, what with Richt just so happening to bump his expected hire date back a little bit right as Grantham's Cowboys appear to have backed into an, at first, seemingly unattainable playoff spot.

You'd be surprised what a NFL name on the staff will do for recruiting too. Heck, look at ol man Monty over there at UT

Copyright 2009 Georgia Sports Blog. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan