ATHENS -- Todd Grantham used part of his bye week to catch up on family matters, such as watching his 8-year-old son Corbin play basketball.
The Georgia defensive coordinator joked that he got tired of watching his son run up and down the court and was tempted to coach him. The time off also allowed Grantham to sneak in, without the rush of a normal week, some prep work on something he hasn’t coached against in more than a decade -- a triple-option offense, run by Georgia Tech.
The off week may have come a little late for the team as a whole, but for Georgia’s first-year defensive coach, it helped.
“It allows you to get a couple extra days to just teach your players the concepts,” Grantham said.
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Georgia Tech’s offense is still a bit of a mystery. It leads the nation with 329 rushing yards per game. But it did its best work with quarterback Josh Nesbitt, whose season ended three games ago with a broken arm.
Statistically, Georgia’s run defense is fourth in the SEC, yielding 125.4 yards per game.
But game-by-game, the results have been hit or miss. The Bulldogs yielded huge rushing days to South Carolina (182 by tailback Marcus Lattimore), Florida (231 by the team) and most recently Auburn (315 by Cam Newton and company).
The previous two matchups with Georgia Tech’s triple-option have also seen stark differences. Last year the Bulldogs pretty much held it in check, yielding 205 yards on the way to a 30-24 win. The year before was a different story, as Georgia Tech earned a 45-42 win to end a seven-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.
When Georgia head coach Mark Richt was asked Sunday if his players would be encouraged by last year’s success, he spun it back to the 2008 game.
“I think two years ago anybody that’s still left over, realizes how crucial it is to be focused every single snap. Every single snap,” Richt said. “You just cannot think you’ve got them, because you don’t. You might have them one play.”
Playing steady on every snap has been an issue all season for the Georgia defense. While the run defense in some games has been an issue, pass coverage breakdowns have been an even more glaring mistake.
Georgia Tech doesn’t figure to pass much. Tevin Washington did have a 79-yard completion Saturday against Duke, but he only attempted six other passes, completing just one.
So the emphasis for Grantham this week will be almost entirely on the run option. And the former NFL assistant coach made clear he had done his homework.
“You’ve just got to be sound on those guys,” he said. “They’re gonna make you defend everything: They’re gonna make you defend the fullback, they’re going to make you defend the quarterback on the edge, and they’re gonna make you defend the pitch.
“And you’ve gotta be able to handle those and you’ve gotta understand that they’re gonna try to get angles on you different ways. And they’re gonna test your support system, and you’ve gotta be able to handle that stuff.”
Richt said he was in “100 percent agreement” with the decision last week to schedule Boise State as next year’s season-opener. The game in the Georgia Dome, which will kick off the college football season, replaces a home opener against Louisville, which was canceled.
“Basically it’s a game that everybody in the country is gonna watch and have a high level of interest in. So I think it’s important for our program,” Richt said. “If you’re gonna play at a neutral site, it’s nice to play at one that’s in your state.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray’s status should be known better Monday. The freshman, who has been dealing with a bruised sternum and bruised knee, is expected to try to practice after sitting out last week’s light workouts.