September 29, 2011

Tale of the Tape: OLBs



Tale of the Tape

Outside Linebackers

Much had been made of Georgia's lack of sacks in the first three games, but the Bulldogs broke out with four against Ole Miss last week. In defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's scheme, it is well known that the outside linebackers are the keys to the pass rush, but the responsibilities go way further than that. It is a complex position where any given play, depending on the call, could require a half dozen different reads. Here is a closer look of the small, but talented group.

Sam Linebacker

The Sam or strong side linebacker in the 3-4 is possibly the most complex position in the entire defense. Sophomore Jarvis Jones has manned the position to near perfection so far this fall. There have been times where Columbus native failed to make the correct read, but he was able to make up for it with superior athleticism and an incredible motor.
Jones is a max effort player with a great deal of talent. He was recruited as a linebacker/pass rushing defensive end out of high school, and he has served both of those roles well for the Bulldogs in 2011. He has shown that he is adept at shedding blocks, keeping containment, and playing assignment football when in a run stopping situation. He has also shown a variety of moves to reach the passer when he is asked to provide pressure. Jones has developed a devastating inside move that was responsible for DeAngelo Tyson's first sack this fall against Ole Miss, and he has caused several mistakes with his ability to reach the quarterback with his speed rush. The addition of Jones to Grantham's 3-4 defense is a large reason for the improvement shown from last year to present. Grade: A

Reserves

Chase Vasser is listed as Jones' top back up at the Sam position, but he has seen most of his action with Jones on the field in a specific package that UGA uses against three and four wide receiver personnel. Vasser is strong in coverage and has a great deal of speed to close down throwing lanes for the opposing quarterback. While he has seen limited action in 2011, Vasser has shown that he can help Grantham's defense as a role player and in providing depth.

Will Linebacker

The Will or weak side linebacker in the 3-4 is virtually a weak side defensive end. This position has been manned by junior Cornelius Washington for almost every snap this season. Washington's play has been discussed a great deal by those who follow the UGA program, and Grantham has stated on several occasions that the Hephzibah native is playing very well.
Washington has shown tremendous strength and athleticism in defending the run. He has done a great job of crashing and making plays on the inside that some Will linebackers have a hard time making. He has done a nice job of making the correct reads, and has won far more battles than he has lost in the trenches.
While there have been a great deal of positives for Washington, he has also struggled at times with keeping containment. While he is not the player responsible for some of the outside runs that have hurt the Bulldogs in the Boise State and South Carolina games, there have been times where he lost outside leverage and failed to recover. Although mistakes have been present, they have been few and this is the biggest reason that Washington has established himself as a solid defender in the 3-4. Grade B+

Reserves

As stated before, Vasser has been the reserve used most often for Washington, but other players have seen action from the position. Former walk-on Ruben Faloughi saw extensive action against Boise State, but has yet to see significant snaps since. The most notable reserve is freshman Ray Drew. Drew has a great deal of talent but has yet to see the snaps that many expected in the pre season. That, however, could change quickly as the Thomasville native continues to increase his understanding and ability to execute the defense.


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