The Jackets had a special guest a practice yesterday as former Virginia head coach Al Groh took in our second bowl practice & spent some time with CPJ. Interesting, somewhat titillating, but nothing to get overly excited about. First off, for all you reactionary whack-jobs out there, he's not going to be our new defensive coordinator. He's 65 & I doubt he wants another job, particularly as an assistant. More on this later....
So what was Groh doing at practice? Was he simply catching up with an old friend in CPJ? Quite possibly. Was he here to study the offense that many defensive coaches, including Bill Belichek, find fascinating, first hand? Could be. Was he simply watching how 2-time ACC coach of the year Paul Johnson runs practice? Coaches frequently visit other programs do to just this. So my answer is all of the above....plus one more reason.
What was this mystery man doing at Jacket's practice yesterday...?
My guess is that Groh was at practice because he was in town & wanted to be there. But I'm also guessing he was invited for a specific reason. Groh is a very fine defensive coach, whose specialty is the 3-4 defense. That's the defense he coordinated in the NFL & what he ran at UVA. Is it any coincidence that due to our lack of defensive line depth we ran the 3-4 a significant amount in the ACC championship game? I think not. It could well be Groh was here to help out with some nuances of the 3-4 defense. This makes perfect sense to me. LSU brought in former Oklahoma assistant & noted option defensive specialist Larry Lacewell last year in preparation for us in the Chik-fil-a Bowl. Worked out well for them. Why shouldn't we avail ourselves of all the resources at hand?
I don't think we stay in a 3-4 permanently or even all game in the Orange Bowl. But we'll definitely run some 3-4 because we have to. We're so thin on the defensive line after Ben Anderson's injury we don't have a choice. It simply fits our personnel. You need a big space eater at nose tackle. How about T.J. Barnes & Logan Walls? In a 3-4 the defensive ends need to be bigger & able to hold the edge. Derrick Morgan can play in any defense & this moves Jason Peters to DE, his natural position. At 270+ pounds, both the guys are physically suited to this role. Freshman Izaan Cross, who has reluctantly been working inside because of depth issues, now goes back to his natural defensive end as a back-up. Egbuniwe plays when we use the 4-3. This limits his minutes & is a good thing for us.
At linebacker, we run Griffin & Jefferson inside with Sylvester & Julian Burnett on the outside. A.T. Barnes & Osahon Tongo back up the outside LBs while Machen & Munre back up on the inside. Secondary stays status quo. This seems a pretty good fit to me. Iowa is pretty predictable on offense. On obvious running downs we can go "jumbo" out of the 3-4 by walking our linebackers up as ends & essentially playing a 5-2. Passing downs we mix in a few stunts & blitzes in order to pressure Stanzi. Seems logical to me (which is why I'm probably way off base).
Finally we want to say one thing: STOP WITH ALL THE WOMMACK BASHING!!! For the love of all, if you read the Tech message boards you'd think the guy was responsible for cancer, global warming & Scrappy-Doo (for the record that's clearly the most egregious). Give it a rest. Are we sold? Not yet & frankly got a ways to go. But shit, give the guy a chance. We lost 3 NFL players from our defensive line last year. Some of our deficiencies are talent related. Am I frustrated by the fact we can't stop anybody? HELL YES, it drives me crazy. The last time we forced a punt I had hair on my head. But it's too early to throw Wommack to the wolves. CPJ said he'll look at the defense after the season, assess, & get to work making improvements. According to the head man there won't be a staff shake up. So be frustrated & hope we improve. But nashing your teeth & bashing Wommack at every opportunity does no one any favors. Give him a chance & let's see where we end up. We're not saying you have to "follow the party line & be a company man" forever. But it's way too early to tell. After all, we've won 11 games.....with this defense. Even when we had great defenses we never won eleven games....