Sorry for the long layoff. Not much to post about but I figure I might as well do a Grantham related post.
First off let me say I’m excited. While I was intrigued by the idea of getting Smart because of his incredible resume as a recruiter and the feather in the cap of taking the DC from the defending national champion in a lateral move, but there are legit questions about Smart and whether he can enjoy the same success he’s had at Bama away from Saban. Who knows. Smart would’ve been a great PR hire. Grantham, previously the Dallas Cowboys’ DL coach, probably isn’t quite as sexy but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better resume. The guy has coached under some great names, Saban, Crennell, Beamer, etc. He had an offer from Saban to be the DC at Miami during Saban’s brief stint in the NFL as head coach. One listen to an interview and its easy to get excited about the guy. Words like aggressive, discipline, relentless get thrown out and I’m all ears.
The hot topic that everyone has been talking about is the switch to Grantham’s 3-4 front. Most people hear 3-4 and they think massive NG (Mt. Cody) and start to question personnel. One thing that you have to know is that there are a few different 3-4 schemes out there. There’s the LeBeau-type zone blitz scheme, there’s the one that Belichick runs at NE that’s kind of the standard 3-4 that most think of but then there’s the Phillips 3-4 that Grantham will likely be running. That scheme is more of a 1-gap line scheme meaning the DLs shoot a gap rather than holding position and being responsible for two gaps. The result is that you don’t have to have a massive NG to make it work. They’re basically doing the same thing a DT does in most 4-3 defenses. That’s why Dallas could afford to trot out a 300pound NG in Jay Ratliff, one who happened to make first team All-Pro this year. Sure your DEs are bigger than a 4-3 DE, but we happen to have lots of those types on the roster. In Dallas, both of their starting DEs, one of which (Olshansky) was a DT in college, are listed as heavier than their NG.
As for positional moves, I don’t think you’re looking at wholesale changes that worry some folks. Tyson will probably be in line for the starting spot at NG. He’s not huge, but he’s got experience in the trenches and in the 1-gap scheme we’ll run he’s going to be fine there. A guy like Kwame Geathers could have a huge year. At 320 and quick, with a year of conditioning under his belt, this guy could blow up inside. A freshman like Whitaker (should he commit) would probably end up here. Other DTs on the roster already like Abry Jones and Derrick Lott could end up inside or outside easily given their athleticism and situational needs. The responsibilities won’t be hugely different.
DE is way more intriguing. A guy like Brandon Wood, who has struggled to find a home between DE and DT over his career could thrive as a 3-4 DE where his bulk can help. Dobbs has the size to play the spot right away too. Kiante Tripp’s considerable size works well at DE here too. Some of the current DEs (Houston and Washington) likely move to OLB but Montez Robinson likely stays at DE here with his size. Longo too if he can ever stay healthy.
The basic premise of a 3-4 is that you’re got one fewer guy committed at the line so you’re able to, theoretically, bring pressure from different spots while not committing any extra people. It’s like blitzing someone every play but not losing anyone in coverage. Sure you’re only bringing 4 people on most plays but the OL only knows for sure about 3 of them.
3-4 OLBs therefore need to be equally adept at rushing the passer and dropping in coverage. You hear the term tweener a lot for guys who play DE in college but end up standing up and playing LB in the NFL due to size or scheme issues. Slight, fast DEs like Cornelius Washington or super athletic freaks like Justin Houston are ideal to play OLB in a 3-4. Incoming recruits like TJ Stripling don’t have to come in and put on 40 pounds before they can utilize their athleticism in getting after the passer because they aren’t lined up directly over an OL. The trade off is they have to do things like be able to drop in coverage on pass plays and react in space on running plays.
Ideally the interior LBs (Mike and Moe in our scheme) would be a pair of Rolando McClains. Big, fast, smart LBs with instincts can play in any scheme though. Honestly, the only LB on our team currently that I’m curious to see where he fits is Nick Williams. The safety-sized LB was suited as an OLB in a 4-3 but it will be fun to watch where he fits in this scheme as most of your OLBs need some bulk. Although he’s listed at the same size as Williams, I think Mike Gilliard is going to have a big year, but that’s more because I think he’s got a great future.
Of the two incoming recruits we have at LB, Deon Rogers looks like a great fit with a frame to put on good weight. Telvin Smith, should he swap from FSU, would be a good fit too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see those two swap commitment locations between FSU and UGA but that’s not really relevant here.