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Chip Towers

Did Georgia’s defense get better as result of Grantham’s departure?

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ATHENS —  The Bulldogs ended up completely rebuilding their defensive staff after coordinator Todd Grantham flew the coop for more money and less challenge at Louisville. But it’s hard to look  at what they’ve done since then and not say they’re better off.

They lost a defensive coordinator who had given up more points and yards than any Georgia coach in decades and replaced him with Jeremy Pruitt, the architect of the nation’s No. 1 defense on the national championship team. Since then the Bulldogs have added linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer, who earned two national championship rings as an assistant at Alabama, and Tracy Rocker, a former Lombardi and Outland Trophy winner who won a national championship as defensive line coach at Auburn and has spent the last three years coaching in the NFL.

Georgia may or may not be on the verge of hiring its last assistant coach. Indications are they may be close.

There are numerous reports that Georgia hiring Mike Ekeler, most recently of Southern Cal but also Nebraska and LSU, as linebackers coach is imminent. I must stress that I have not been able to corroborate those reports to the point I’d be comfortable reporting it. And you need to know I’ve checked it out with folks who absolutely would know.

But, for what it’s worth, I thought Kirk Olivadotti might have been the best football mind on Georgia’s defense these last few years and I thought his loss was the worst of the departures. He would have made a fine coordinator himself and likely will end up being one in the NFL. All that being said, Ekeler would come with an impressive resume, which includes considerable special teams expertise, and would be another good edition.

In any case, the coaches the Bulldogs now have on board have been a little busy, what with the recruiting period peaking here a week before signing day. I hope to visit with Pruitt and/or some of the new assistants once national signing day gets in the books next week.

In the meantime, I spent some time Thursday talking with Garrison Smith about what these coaches have coming back on defense next year. As has probably been evidenced on this site in the past year, I have a lot of respect for Smith and have gotten to know him well as he emerged as a de facto captain and spokesperson for Georgia’s defense his senior season. He has some strong insights with regard to what the Bulldogs might look like next season.

Check back later this afternoon and I’ll share his thoughts with you.

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