Florida vs. Georgia: Defense Review

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This week I’m only focusing on the defensive performance from Florida against Georiga. The offense did their job and I’m not going to be overly nitpicky on what they did and didn’t do, though I could because the offense was unimpressive in the second half when Pitts wasn’t on the field. The defense however was not good and if Georgia had a competent QB running the offense this game potentially looks a lot differently on the scoreboard.

The first play we’re going to look at is the first play of the game. This was largely blamed on Jaydon Hill for being out of position.

Take a look at the GIF of this play.

I’ve said this before and it’s been a while so it’s worth mentioning, I’m not an expert on football and I won’t pretend to be, most of my knowledge on the x’s and o’s and technique is from a lot of reading and watching of videos in my spare time. Getting that out of the way, I don’t see Hill being solely at fault here and I think it’s ridiculous to pin the entire failure of this play on him like myself and so many people were doing on Saturday.

Stewart takes an awful angle on the ball carrier and runs himself right into being blocked. Moon is the outside linebacker here and should be the first defender to get outside contain to force White to cut back inside. I’m going to guess that Hill takes outside leverage here expecting to have safety help once the RB cuts inside. But because every other defender on the play-side runs themselves out of the play (including Torrence, the other safety who also plays this poorly) even if Hill tried to take on White head-on, White has a lead blocker, it’s one cut to the outside of Hill and the play results in a TD. There is no logical way that I see this play being the sole fault of Jaydon Hill.

Moving onto the next TD, which occured on the very next drive.

Without all-22 view, its a bit difficult to see exactly what the safeties were doing here but I see two things wrong with this play based on what the video I do have shows. But here is a diagram of what’s going on here. The skinny post gets wide open for the touchdown on this play. Grantham calls a zone but it seems like all but two people did their job properly here, Brad Stewart and Ventrell Miller look to be the culprits here.

My assumption here is Jaydon Hill is passing off the skinny post to safety and linebacker help. But it’s not there. Watch the linebacker here, 51 (Miller), Hill drops down and picks up the out route, there is no reason for Miller to attempt to double that route. I’m guessing Miller was supposed to drop back more into a cover 2 zone role here and didn’t. I’m not sure what Stewart is doing because I don’t have a good view, he seems like he’s a bit too outside of the skinny post here but without knowing the play I can’t say with 100% certainty. I don’t pin this play on Grantham entirely, I believe if Miller drops back into a zone, this forces Bennett to have to drop a dime over the defense which he is more or less incapable of doing, now you force Georgia into a field goal.

When Florida’s run defense was doing their job early in this game it was primarily because Tedarrell Slaton or Kyree Campbell was doing their job. On this play, Georgia attempts to double down on Slaton with the run designed to go right up the A-Gap. Slaton splits that double team and keeps the run to a paltry one-yard gain.

I’m noticing a theme with third downs through the early part of this game. Grantham seems way too confident in his linebackers to do their jobs correctly when dropping into zone and in this case, once again, it looks like Miller blows this play. He bites on a weak play fake to the RB, he takes two small steps forward and doesn’t have the necessary speed to backpedal to get where he needs to be able to knock the ball down. He’s close, but if he didn’t bite on that play fake it’s possible he’s able to knock this ball down.

Ventrell Miller up to this point has had an absolutely miserable game as a pass defender to the point and I’m about to point him out again. But before I show the highlighted gif in full, something seems off with who has who based on Georgia’s formation here.

The yellow lines are not the routes run, this is who picks up who in man coverage on this play. Miller, considering how poor he is as a pass defending linebacker, having to pick up the outside TE here seems like it’s either a bad job by Grantham in the play call or a poor communication job between the three defenders in the box who end up in man coverage.

I focused on this play above because, despite the drop, it’s not going to happen with every offense Florida plays. Miller is wildly out of position here and it looks like he stops to point out the RBĀ  while the TE he is supposed to be picking up runs streaking down the field uncovered. Florida got lucky here, one of several instances I’ll get to that Florida caught a break despite bad defense.

When I saw this next play pop up I had no idea who #16 was, I had to look at the roster page to see it’s someone named Tre’Vez Johnson, a freshman DB who I’m frankly wondering why Grantham put him on the field in this caliber of a game in the first place. CFBstats.com tells me he’s played in every game but I can’t figure out why he’s playing slot corner here over several other more experienced options.

I’m not aware of what the scheme is here defensively. The top corner looks to be in zone, the middle linebacker looks to drop to a zone, everyone else looks to be in man. It’s potentially a split coverage call. But I can’t figure out if Johnson is in man and has horrible technique here or realizes late he’s supposed to be doing something else. I only see one deep safety here which is another set of questions I have. Regardless of what I do and don’t get about the scheme here, this is the second play of the game Florida got lucky they didn’t give up points.

I was looking for Carter starting the second half to see if he would come in and put a stamp on the game in a positive way and early on he did just that with pressure forcing Bennett to throw the ball away.

A little bit later in the third quarter, Carter dips under the LT and forces Mathis out of the pocket, which is cleaned up nicely by Houston. I wasn’t convinced coming into this game that Carter could be effective against Georgia’s offensive line but I was clearly wrong on that front.

It’s tough to tell exactly what went on in the secondary here but I can assure you that Davis falling doesn’t help. But I’m not sure if he doesn’t fall if anything changes here. There is no one within 5 yards of the receiver and Davis is behind the receiver. Stiner is too far to the right. It seems like the safeties dropped a bit too deep on this play but again, hard to tell exactly off the generic sideline view we have.

Ventrell Miller is just not a good linebacker in the passing game. He bites hard on the toss fake which gets him out of position to make a realistic play on his man streaking downfield. This is another play that if Georgia hits could have changed how this game ended.

This is the second time Tre’Vez Johnson got badly beaten in coverage while also getting no quality safety help over the top. I understand two safeties can only cover so much ground but it’s absurd the number of times that every single safety on Florida’s roster is found to be out of position and chasing down a WR who beat them or another corner on a deep route. Chalk up another one that changes this game if Georgia has a competent QB throwing the ball.

I haven’t done film review all year so it’s possible I overlooked a thing or two, but I don’t recall a single instance in this game prior to this play where Grantham brought this much pressure. It was well-timed, Mathis wasn’t expecting it, and based on what Florida was doing for most of this game on 3rd and 4th down I’m guessing that Mathis was expecting Florida to drop back into zone.

Conclusion

The ultimate goal was to beat Georgia and end a 3 game winning streak, which Florida did. But don’t be mistaken, this was more or less another poor performance by Florida’s defense.

Florida came into this game allowing 133 yards a game on the ground, Georgia averaged 175 yards a game on the ground, Georgia ran for 165 and a season-high in yards a carry at 5.69.

If you are looking at the box score, it looks like an improvement that Florida’s defense only allowed 21 points (7 were off a Trask pick six). What the box score doesn’t tell is that Tre’Vez Johnson got burned on two occassions that if Georgia had Fromm at QB, end up being 14 additional points for Georgia. What the box score doesn’t show is Ventrell Miller played so poorly in the passing game that on two occassions Georgia should have ended up with 20+ yard gains that likely put them in, at minimum, field goal range (one was dropped, one was badly over thrown by Mathis).

I thought the pass rush went as planned. You’re not beating Georgia very consistently as they have studs at tackle, but Carter came in after halftime and played much better than I expected him too and Cox forced Georgia to have to bring help over a few times after he hit one of their tackles with a quality spin move. I figured two sacks in this game would be this units ceiling.

Going back to the run defense, it wasn’t that bad, one play resulted in a 75-yard touchdown run, the other 28 plays Georgia ran the ball resulted in 90 yards on 28 carries (3.21 YPC). Both Campbell and Slaton were a load for Georgia’s interior to handle, Slaton routinely saw double teams which I view as a sign of respect, and he did a fine job holding his ground against a very talented offensive line. The issue I noticed in the run game is when Florida held Georgia to minimal yards it was because the defensive line was stout. The linebackers just don’t flash well in the run game.

The big issue for Florida though is their secondary. I don’t know what happened to Stiner and Davis, two guys I thought would consistently hold down the safety spots. All the safeties that get playing time are bad. Stiner didn’t pop up in a positive way once on film, Davis slipped in the endzone allowing a TD on third and long, and otherwise either took poor angles against a deep pass or was just caught playing catchup because he was wildly out of position. Stewart continues to do nothing to take advantage of his playing time and was, for a second straight game, awful in every single aspect of a safeties job.

I’ll end with this, if Florida brings this defense into a possible game with Alabama, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Alabama drop a 60 spot on Florida. Alabama has more talent at WR (even without Waddle) than Georgia does and a significantly better QB. This defensive staff has to figure out what they want to do with this defense. Grantham was pretty laid back against Georgia with his aggressiveness, which surprised me considering who the QBs were. On most third downs he called for a zone defense and in most instances, a linebacker, usually Miller, blew an assignment allowing a catch for conversion. I’m not sure if there is a viable fix based on the talent at linebacker and safety but this team has some relatively easier offenses (minus LSU) to figure things out prior to playing Alabama. Things need to get fixed fast or things may get extremely ugly against Alabama.

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