Why UGA's new D mightn't look all that different

Credit: Mark Bradley

Credit: Mark Bradley

Under Brian VanGorder and Willie Martinez, Georgia employed a 4-3 defense. Under Todd Grantham, it switched to a 3-4. Under Jeremy Pruitt, it will use a 3-4 that might look a lot like a 4-3.

Speaking at Signing Day, Mark Richt averred that this latest change shouldn't represent much of a change. "It's no big deal," he said.

The reason being: Grantham's 3-4 essentially deployed the weakside linebacker -- the "Will," in football argot -- as a de facto defensive end. The only difference, Richt said, is a matter of the placement of one man's hand.

A linebacker assumes a two-point stance. A defensive end assumes a three-point one. ("Puts his hand in the dirt," to invoke another grid-ism.)

Said Richt: "We used the Will linebacker as a rush guy in a two-point stance. A lot of people run the same defense but put the guy in a three-point stance."

Even then, it might be hard to tell a 3-4 from a 4-3. No matter their preferred base defense, most teams -- both collegiate and professional -- use a bit of both. As an example, Richt offered this: If Georgia is playing a read-option offense, it might choose to have a defensive end take a two-point stance, so as to have his head up and be better able to, er, read the option.

And sometimes how a defense appears is a function of personal preference. Richt noted that Jarvis Jones, the great Will linebacker, liked rushing from a two-point stance. But Ray Drew or Lorenzo Carter might be more comfortable getting a hand dirty, as it were.

Don't misunderstand: Georgia's new base D will indeed be the 3-4. It's what Pruitt used, to championship-winning effect, at Florida State, although it was possible to watch the Seminoles for long stretches and come away believing they favored the 4-3. (They changed looks a whole lot, in other words.)

The principles might not be all that different from what Georgia fans have been seeing. The coaching, on the other hand, might well be better.

From myajc.com, our premium site: The Class of 2014 could help Richt win the one thing he hasn't.

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Further reading: Mark Richt wants to coach until he's 80 (maybe).

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