Around this time a season ago, I compared the Bulldog defense while coordinated by Willie Martinez in his final three seasons at Georgia to the unit during Todd Grantham's first three seasons. Overall, and as expected, Grantham's Guard Dogs had performed better in nearly every statistical category. However, when facing what I defined as a "productive" offense, or an offense that would finish its respective season ranked in the nation's top 50 in total offense, Willie Mo's Boys had performed better when pitted against upper-tier offenses.
A year later and as another bowl matchup with Nebraska awaits, and another Cornhusker productive offense (421 yards and 33 points per game), I conducted a second comparison of Georgia's defenses under the unit's two latest coordinators. However, I updated and improved the comparison this time, including the entire tenures of the two coordinators--Martinez (2005 through 2009 regular season) and Grantham (2010 to present)--while revising a "productive" offense to one which is more so "proficient," or an FBS offense that would finish its respective season averaging at least 400 total yards and 27 points scored per game (current yardage and points scored averages were considered for Grantham for 2013).
Against all opposition, an on-the-surface comparison reveals that Georgia allowed 20.9 points per game under Martinez, and a slightly higher 22.7 points since Grantham has been around. Still, considering the Bulldogs' special teams woes the last few years and Georgia's tendency to simply give away points, the collective defensive units under the two coordinators could be considered rather equal, or perhaps even Grantham's having a slight advantage. Nevertheless, when it comes to facing proficient offenses, there's little comparison.
Martinez's defenses faced 17 FBS offenses which would average 400 yards and 27 points, whereas Grantham has opposed 18 to date:
|3rd Down %||0.383||0.439|
Rather, when it comes to facing proficient offenses, there's no comparison. Grantham's defenses have allowed more than 60 rushing yards per game than Martinez's yielded, 0.7 more yards per rush and pass, recorded less sacks, forced fewer turnovers, yielded a much higher third-down conversion rate, and perhaps more significantly, allowed an entire offensive touchdown more per game (3.8 to 2.8) than his predecessor. As far as the most telling statistic of them all, Georgia's record is 10-8 when Grantham's defensive unit has faced a proficient offense; the Bulldogs were 12-5 with Martinez under the same circumstances.
Notably, when Martinez was fired following the Georgia Tech game in 2009, Coach Richt stated, "It was definitely not a one-year, knee-jerk reaction to one season...We want to make sure we're playing Georgia ball, playing with the type of speed and intensity that it takes to be champions." However, following the 2011 campaign--a season Georgia was fortunate to face some really bad offenses (just two of 14 opponents had proficient offenses, compared to five in 2012 and eight this season)--the Bulldogs evidently had a knee-jerk reaction to one season by giving Grantham a new three-year contract and $75,000-a-year raise.
As I stated a year ago, I realize simply comparing coordinators and their defensive statistics doesn't reveal the entire story, so to speak. I also said that I personally preferred Todd Grantham over Willie Martinez as Georgia's DC on any day and against any offense, whether productive or one not so much. A year later, I personally prefer neither coordinator, but someone who could get the Bulldog defenders, as Coach Richt desired four years ago, to finally play "Georgia ball."