Yellow Jackets Shake Up Defensive Scheme
By Matthew Osborne
Follow us at Twitter.com/SouthernPigskin. Become a fan at the SouthernPigskin.com Facebook Page
In order to combat Georgia Tech's deficiencies against the run, Al Groh has made some schematic changes for the 2012 season.
When Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson hired Al Groh to serve as the Yellow Jackets' defensive coordinator prior to the 2010 season, he did so with the knowledge that Groh's new 3-4 scheme would require the Jackets to make significant alterations to their defensive personnel.
Specifically, Coach Johnson and Coach Groh knew that they would need to emphasize recruiting large defensive linemen who could occupy blockers and eat up space against the run.
While the Yellow Jackets have reeled in some quality classes in the last few recruiting cycles, they have by and large failed to improve the quality of their defensive linemen. More importantly, they have struggled to find large-bodied defensive linemen who would thrive in a 3-4 system.
Looking at Georgia Tech's current roster, there is just one defensive lineman on the roster who weighs in at over 300 pounds: T.J. Barnes. Of course, at six-foot-seven, it is little surprise that Barnes tips the scale at 347 pounds.
As the Yellow Jackets have struggled to find large defensive linemen to fit their new defensive scheme, Tech's rushing defense has subsequently suffered. Playing with an undersized defensive front last season, the Yellow Jackets finished 80th in the FBS in average yards per opponent rushing attempt (4.52).
In order to combat his defense's deficiencies against the run, Groh has decided to make some schematic changes for the 2012 season.
With the Yellow Jackets once again set to be extremely undersized on the defensive line for a 3-4 defense, Coach Groh has selected to implement an increased number of "one-gap" prinicples into the Tech defense. These "one-gap" defensive play-calls will alow Georgia Tech's group of smaller defensive linemen to utilize their quickness to slant into gaps, hopefully disrupting the offense's execution. A "two-gap" defensive scheme, which Georgia Tech primarily used last season, requires defensive linemen to attempt to control two gaps at the same time; a very difficult task for an undersized defensive linemen.
In addition to playing more "one-gap" techniques on the defensive line, Groh will also begin lining up his defense in a 4-3 formation more frequently this fall. With increased opportunities to go one-on-one with opposing offensive linemen, defensive ends Izaan Cross, Emmanuel Dieke and Euclid Cummings are hoping to increase their production from 2011, when they combined to register just two sacks.
Although there is no guarantee that these defensive changes will bring about great improvements from the Georgia Tech defense, there is no doubt that these schematic adjustments were necessary.
Rather than stubbornly staying loyal to his 3-4 scheme, Groh is implementing new defensive principles which will put his defensive players in the best position to succeed this fall.
Returning an offensive unit that should be the best of Paul Johnson's tenure in Atlanta, these defensive changes just might be the adjustments that tip the scale for Georgia Tech to make it back to the ACC Championship Game at the end of this season.