October 1, 2013

Communication gap

Keep in touch with UGASports.com

Todd Grantham on signal "issues" from UGASports.com on Vimeo.

"What we have here, is a failure to communicate."

Remember the line from the 1967 movie "Cool Hand Luke" staring the late Paul Newman? That's apparently also describes some of the growing pains being endured by Georgia's young defensive backfield.

On Monday, safety Josh Harvey-Clemons suggested that some of the secondary's pre-snap alignment problems were due to the defensive backs not knowing the signals and that they ran into trouble when they couldn't hear the calls from defensive team captain Amarlo Herrera.

"We just got to learn the signals," Harvey-Clemons said after practice Monday. "Before we were relying on Amarlo to tell us the play ... look at the signal and tell us the play. But when you've got 90,000 yelling, it's hard to hear, so we've just got to learn the signals."

Tuesday, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham wasn't buying that line of thought at all.

"That's bull. Everybody knows the signals, they need to get them. There are certain calls … they need to know the calls," Grantham said. "I don't know who was saying that, but that's part of youth, too. But they need to take it on themselves to get the call."

Secondary coach Scott Lakatos said the defensive backs work every day on pre-snap adjustments, including lessons on understanding the signals and calls that are relayed in.

"Oh yeah, that's every single day. We're working that constantly. We practice like we're not going to hear each other," Lakatos said. "Everything we do is non-verbal."

Herrera confirmed what Lakatos said.

."All of it is done by hand signals," Herrera said. "Some of it, I just know, when I get one call I know the rest of it."

But Herrera did say that Harvey-Clemons was right about one thing - that he and Georgia's other young defensive backs probably don't have a complete grasp on what the entire package of pre-snap signals entails.

"Nobody really knows it that much but me, Ramik (Wilson) and some of the people who's been here," Herrera said. "Those guys who haven't played that much probably don't know them."

So, why the problems?

Lakatos said it boils down to experience.

"Part of getting experience is learning how to get things done, know who is going to help them and who they need to turn to," he said. "It's about knowing what to do now."

Grantham explained that calls are signaled in both from the sideline and by someone (usually Herrera) on the field.

"(Herrera) is (responsible) but he doesn't have to be. Yes, he's the quarterback of the team. He's fine," Grantham said. "That's (some of the problems) part of youth and inexperience, but guys need to take ownership and make sure they get he calls."

Freshman cornerback Shaq Wiggins agreed with what Grantham had to say.

"Our coaches always get on us about communicating in practice. It's different from practice in a game, so we hear most of the calls and we are learning signals every day," he said. "But we've got to do a better job of communicating within the secondary."

Safety Connor Norman said Georgia's defense is not the easiest thing to learn.

"We have a complex defense and guys are learning what to do on certain calls. That's something that we're obviously working on, getting guys more familiar with the signals," he said. "Amarlo is the signal caller for us but teams move fast so you can't always relay the signals from Amarlo. That's definitely something that we're putting emphasis on."

Ideally, Norman said Georgia's young DBs would be able to simply look at the sideline to pick up the call that's being signaled in.

However, it's not always that simple.

"Systematically, that's the best way to do it but relaying communication is a big deal out there because guys on the other side of the field aren't able to look across the sidelines," Norman said. "In the secondary the safeties have to communicate with the corners and the corners have to communicate back with the safeties to make sure that everybody is on the same page."

Herrera said there's nothing unusual about the way the pre-snap signals are relayed onto the field.

He also disagreed that they need to be simplified.

"It is what it is," Herrera said. "I's been this way since I've been here …. It's the same thing. There's no way you can make it easy."

When Bacarri Rambo, Branden Smith, Sanders Commings and Shawn Williams roamed the secondary, pre-snap confusion was rarely a problem.

"Those guys were experienced, everybody knew the calls," Herrera said. "Everybody knew the hand signals."

Wiggins said there's no reason that should not be the case this year. Eventually, he thinks they will.

But there was a reason.

"It's on us," he said. "We need to look at each other before the play is called."

Norman said it's also about maturing as players.

"We've played four freshmen out there, but at the same time we've played four games and they're not freshmen anymore," Norman said. "They're getting better. Four games in, it doesn't matter what kind of games they were, but guys are going to be more confident the more games they play."

NOTES: Georgia practiced in full pads for the second straight day Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's game at Tennessee (3:30 p.m., CBS). Head coach Mark Richt was not at practice Tuesday while he attended the funeral of former Bulldog and San Diego Charger safety Paul Oliver.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!