Previously: The Offense
Todd Grantham is a lifetime coordinator with a Bo Ryan index notable for its sartorial diversity.
His crazy blitzes get home often enough to have made Grantham one of the highest paid assistants in football. They've also broken down often enough that he's lost his shit wearing the colors of Virginia Tech, Michigan State (DL coach under Saban), the Colts, the Texans, the Browns, the Cowboys, the Dawgs, Louisville, Mississippi State, and now Florida, where he followed Dan Mullen. His longest stint since 1997 was four years at Georgia, over which he cemented his reputation as a legendary douchebag you never want to play against. People of the internet know him best for giving Chas Henry the "choke" sign.
His latest defense was hard to scout. The one guy who really stands out doesn't start, but they have a number of starters who are better than decent. If there's a weak point it's the WLB, who racks up a ton of tackles because opponents run at him half the time or more.
The film: Georgia ran at Joseph half the time or more.
Personnel: My diagram:
Florida had a recruiting dip under McElwain that was masked by some blue chips with rap sheets and the occasional SEC recruitment. Grantham, a DL guy at heart, immediately addressed the interior line, adding WVU grad transfer DT Adam Shuler and #1 JuCo prospect NT Kyree Campbell, pushing last year's platoon of NT Khairi Clark, NT Elijah Conliffe, and DT Luke Ancrum to backup rotations, and [/nods in the direction of 3-star mafia who were mad Michigan dropped him to pursue Philip Paea] immobile blob Tedarrell Slaton to the perma-bench. The new guys are fine but push-able, and didn't generate much pass rush against Georgia's large line.
The ends are the problem, starting with the guy they were trying to duplicate when they were fighting us for Josh Uche: All-SEC DE/OLB Jachai Polite had 16(!) TFLs and 11(!) sacks despite only playing on passing downs. He is a liability to shoot upfield on runs but doesn't need to be out there for most of them because BUCK CeCe Jefferson, whom you'll recall from our last two meetings with Florida, is still around causing havoc off the weakside, switching to strongside on passing downs. SDE Jabari Zuniga is the Kwity Paye in this rotation, playing solid against runs and flashing a ridiculous bend when unblocked—he was half of a six-play goal line stand in this game.
[after THE JUMP: more things you'll recognize]
Michigan recruitniks will also recall former commit MLB David Reese, a solid but not spectacular defender in the mold of—but not in the league of—Devin Bush. His fellow smallish middle-mate WLB Vosean Joseph is a lot smaller than his listed weight and can get caught watching, but he's a good blitzer and makes contact—his +6/-13 charting from this game speaks to Georgia's plan of running him over for five yards a play with Evander Holyfield's son (yes we're old), an effective strategy with Higdon but probably not Evans.
The strongside position is a sort of platoon between a hybrid, a pure nickel, and a pure LB, with the hybrid backing into the strong safety job when they're in true 4-3 personnel. That hybrid is "Star" (#HybridSpacePlayerTerms) Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who is playing despite already declaring for the NFL. CGJ was a top-50 recruit and that shows….
….but he also needs to show all the good film he can get to erase "absolute doofus in coverage" from his scouting report. The LB is SAM Jeremiah Moon, a 6'6" tight end-eraser in the mold of PSU's Cam Brown.
The nickel is CB C.J. McWilliams, a good cover bug who's on the field just as often in the cornerback rotation with left CB C.J. Henderson, a future draft pick whom Georgia avoided, and right CB Trey Dean, a talented true freshman whom Georgia also avoided. The safeties are a four-man rotation between SS (field) Jeawon Taylor, FS (boundary) Donovan Stiner, FS Shawn Davis, and SS Brad Stewart. Stiner knows where to be but is athletically behind the other guys and can get dusted; Davis is the only one of these guys who isn't 6'1" but I liked him the best—he's got a great burst to defend the edge and plays down in the box because he can get back.
#31 creeping down at the start
Base Set: It's a base 4-2-5 under that automatically morphs back to an over when it sees a spread. As it was when Durkin was the DC there and here, the weakside end is called a "Buck" linebacker, and they use enough under fronts that it's fine to call it a "3-4" as long as you recognize it's a base gap defense. The Buck stands up and typically aligns outside the formation.
Their nickel package pulls the nose tackle, moves Zuniga (the Kwity-type) inside, and has CeCe and Polite stand up over the edges, often with a middle linebacker up on the line, like so:
In the second half Georgia managed to convert a 3rd and long, then went tempo to lock the passing guys on the field. There was a lot of confusion as Zuniga wasn't prepared to play every-down DT.
|2018 UGA vs UF||D Shift||Safeties||Rushers|
What Shall We Call the Hybrid Today?: Star.
Man or zone coverage: Zone. They'll play a lot of man on their blitzes but the base is a Cover 2.
Pressure: GERG or GREG: Grantham believes in pressure. He'll send five more often than four, and six or seven twice as often as three, which he'll use almost exclusively on passing downs from a look that threatens everybody.
They actually dial it back some for passing downs and don't always fire their linebackers into gaps so they came out below Western Michigan in overall blitziness, but as the bar chart shows you're more likely to see five rushers than four.
Dangerman: I'm going to cheat here and call it Whoever's Coming Off the Edge.
Due to ear infections and podcasting schedules this article is going after Brian's preview, meaning you've already seen the POLITENESS video:
It is impolite.
It's also not the end of edge rushers who can plant a foot in the ground and dive inside. CeCe Jefferson has been at if for years:
And Jabari Zuniga, who dropped a ton of pounds last offseason, personally ruined a Georgia drive that began inside Florida's ten:
Even the linebackers, when tasked with an edge, are crazy athletic. Here's WLB Vosean Joseph when doing something other than getting run over:
Michigan would like to run that play too but it's not so easy to break out the split zones and arc reads when a guy can play both sides of a read.
OVERVIEW: Soft in the middle, freaks on the outside. It's not a great day to be without your burly star running back or your 5th year senior right tackle, though JBB's pass protection wasn't going to help anyway. Florida's making up for size issues by blitzing, but most of those blitzes are off the edge to deter you from testing their secondary too much. Their Cover 2 has issues, and their Cover 1 lacks a deep safety to make them right when they're wrong.
This might be a good game to bring back the stuff that worked in the non-conference season: Down-G especially. Michigan also hasn't yet utilized the "go get it!" abilities of their receivers and tight ends so much this year. With all the blitzing going on, Patterson is going to have the opportunity to loft it or put one in the #Gentryzone. They're also going to have plenty of opportunities to see how next year's interior running game can mash face.