Coach Todd Grantham, Whattya Got?
To the delight of all Dawg fans, a new Defensive Coordinator takes the reigns for 2010 and brings changes in scheme, philosophy and personality. Grantham is fiery and that makes us smile and harken back to the glory days of Erk and BVG. He has installed a 3-4 defense and there has been some shuffling of personnel to try and find the right combination to make this defense work much better than what we have experienced in the past couple of seasons. In addition, there has been much talk of a new aggressive GATA philosophy that is supposed to turn loose the fast, athletic players we have on defense. It will be exciting to see how this new defense performs on Saturday even if it is against a sadsack program in the opener. I have a few benchmark statistical predictions that I expect to happen if we are going to have a successful season. And by successful, mean 10 or more wins.
No matter the scheme, the talk about being aggressive, or bloody foreheads, the most important thing for a defense is to keep the other team from scoring. Thus, the ultimate measure of success should be the amount of points allowed. SO lets look at points per game in the past few years:
2004 - 16.5
2005 - 16.4
2006 - 17.6
2007 - 20.2
2008 - 24.5
2009 - 25.9
As you can see, there has been a steady decline in defense reflected by the steady increase in points surrendered. It is hard to anticipate how much improvement is reasonable to expect, but I am going to go ahead and put some pressure on these guys and project that this number will dip back into the teens for a welcome change. I am basing this on the raw talent Grantham has to work with, the new blood on the defensive coaching staff (Grantham, Belin, Lakatos) and the schedule. Our 2010 ppg allowed will be 18.9.
Everyone likes sacks. At least when it is your team getting the sacks. We could stand to see improvement in this category. Here are our recent sacks figures:
2006 - 33
2007 - 42
2008 - 23
2009 - 30
I am hoping that sheer demanding expectations from the coaching staff and turning these guys loose will increase our sacks total. However, we also need the personnel to get to the quarterback. With Justin Houston, Cornelius Washington, Darryl Gamble and DeAngelo Tyson, we will get more sacks than the past two seasons but not as many as 2007. Accordingly, I predict 35 sacks for this team. And I expect Justin Houston to lead the way with 12 sacks.
Interceptions and Fumble Recoveries
Last year was a dismal year for turnovers gained by our defense. We caused a fair number of fumbles but we could not recover but two all year. We will need to see substantial improvement in our turnover margin in 2010 and half of that equation counts on the defense to come up with some take aways. Here are the numbers since 2006:
2006 - 30
2007 - 26
2008 - 16
2009 - 12
Is that pathetic or what? You would think we could fall out of bed and get more than one turnover per game. In fact, I will expect exactly twice that number. Assuming a bowl game, which I do, I predict this defense will come up with 26 turnovers. That is not asking too much. Make a play on the ball in the air. Tackle the football when possible. And when the pigskin hits the deck, don't act like it is a shit-covered hand grenade. Get on that ball!
So those are the big predictions for this defense:
Points per Game = 18.9
Sacks = 35
Turnovers = 26
If we manage all three of these goals, we will win at least 10 games.
Go Dawgs, GATA!