CHARLOTTE - Here's something Georgia fans have heard before: Louisville linebacker Keith Kelsey referred, without prompting, to Todd Grantham as having "a pretty complex defense."
"It was a lot more different than what we were used to with coach (Charlie) Strong's defense. It was a lot more things," Kelsey said. "But once we got the hang of it we started playing fast."
And unlike Grantham's final season at Georgia, his complicated calls and schemes have done quite well his first year at Louisville. Entering Tuesday's Belk Bowl, the Cardinals rank fifth nationally in total defense, and second nationally against the run, trailing only Alabama.
Remember third-and-Grantham? Well, the Cardinals are third nationally in third-down defense this season.
Louisville does rank a bit lower, 19th, in scoring defense, which Grantham said during his time at Georgia he looked at as the most key stat.
In any event, Grantham's presence remains a heavy subplot for Tuesday's bowl game. No one on either side will admit to any ill feelings. But Louisville's side isn't hiding that it sought a tactical advantage via Grantham's inside knowledge.
"He knows the (Georgia) offense, he's been there," Kelsey said. "He gave us a few tips."
Bobby Petrino, the Louisville head coach and de facto offensive coordinator, said his staff had gathered information from Grantham on Georgia's personnel, particularly on defense.
"The way we've approached it is we've tried to get as much information as we can from him on their personnel, and the things that he knows inside that other people don't," Petrino said.
There were reports in the preseason of a rift between Petrino and Grantham, two men with strong personalities. But that seems a long time ago, and Petrino on Tuesday called his defensive coordinator "a real professional," and praised his teaching ability.
"He's done an amazing job with our defense, really an amazing job, when you look at where we thought we were in spring ball, and the production we've gotten from our safeties," Petrino said. "I think we're what, sixth overall in defense, third against the run. So we've had a great defensive year."
Grantham, who hasn't been available for interviews in Charlotte, hasn't seemed any different this week, according to his players.
"Coach Grantham is always juiced," Kelsey said with a smile. "Nothing has changed. He's keeping it the same, the way he's been doing it all season."
Bobo checks in from afar
Mike Bobo may be settling in as Colorado State’s head coach, but he’s also keeping an eye on his former Georgia team.
Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason got a text message a couple days ago from Bobo, who had read Mason’s post-practice comments on Friday.
“I’m like, What?” Mason remembered Monday, shaking his head and smiling. “You’re never out from underneath the leash.”
Actually, Bobo didn’t seem to have a problem with anything Mason said. Bobo just couldn’t help coaching Mason up a bit more, urging the quarterback to keep the team motivated.
Either way, it reinforced something.
“I think he’ll definitely be watching the game,” Mason said.
Petrino on Bobo
The fact Bobo won’t be calling plays for Georgia might throw a wrench in Grantham and Louisville’s preparation. He was familiar with Bobo’s tendencies, but tight ends coach John Lilly will now be deciding the plays.
Petrino, as a play-caller himself, said he didn’t know exactly what effect it would have.
“I think Todd will understand that better than I do, for sure, because he knows the people within the organization,” Petrino said. “I had a lot of respect for coach Bobo and the way he operated the offense. I also understand that part of that is coach Richt, and his influence. So it’s not like they don’t have coaches there that really understand what they’re doing offensively.”