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The Second Year Grantham Surge

Second year surges for head coaches have become common enough that people almost expect them. Coaches like Bob Stoops, Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer have won national titles in their second seasons; coaches like Pete Carroll, Nick Saban at Alabama and Mark Richt went from middling records to 11+ win seasons. Big time coaches are expected to produce these effects like clockwork, while even lower profile coaches are supposed to have them on some level.

Typically people don't look for them at the coordinator level, but everyone did when it came to Georgia's Todd Grantham. The defense was the reason why UGA began its decline in the second half of the last decade, and if it couldn't be turned around, Richt was probably going to be sent packing. He chose Grantham to be the new leader on that side of the ball, effectively betting his job on the NFL transplant.

Grantham happens to be a 3-4 guy, which meant that there was going to be at least one transitional year from Willie Martinez's 4-3. The Bulldogs hit their nadir record-wise in that transition year, finishing 6-7. The offense wasn't innocent in all of those seven losses, but Grantham really needed to engineer one of those fabled second year surges.

As it turns out, he did. Here is how Georgia's BCS conference opponents (plus Boise State) did against Grantham's crew this season. The points are offensive points only; I did not include special teams scores, defensive scores, or safeties. Also, I did not include any stats accumulated against I-AA opponents.

Opponent Points PPG Diff. Yards YPG Diff.
Boise State 35 41.82 -6.82 390 477.6 -87.6
South Carolina 24 24.62 -0.62 395 366.5 28.5
Ole Miss 7 12.55 -5.55 183 277.6 -94.6
Mississippi State 3 20.73 -17.73 213 335.5 -122.5
Tennessee 12 17.82 -5.82 270 323 -53.0
Vanderbilt 21 22.55 -1.55 349 345.8 3.2
Florida 13 20.91 -7.91 226 323.4 -97.4
Auburn 7 19.27 -12.27 195 320.3 -125.3
Kentucky 10 13.82 -3.82 142 242.9 -100.9
Georgia Tech 17 31.00 -14.00 355 441.2 -86.2


Average Point Differential: -7.61

Average Yard Differential: -73.58

Grantham's crew held every offense below its season average to some extent. He held eight of the ten under their yardage averages as well.

LSU's offense hasn't been the most dynamic in the country, but it can crank it up when it needs to. For Georgia to have a chance to win this Saturday, it will need Grantham's defense to dial up one of its best games. If that unit can do it, given how good its best games have been, Georgia will have a decent shot at pulling off the upset on what amounts to its home turf.