Bama (Natl Champ)
Alabama Crimson Tide (National Championship)
L, 23-26

Well, it's not as if I'm breaking any news here, but it's now clear that Georgia will be getting several new defensive coaches. Out are defensive coordinator and secondary coach Willie Martinez, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach John Jancek and defensive ends and special teams coach John Fabris. Obviously the defensive side of the ball has been a MAJOR problem the last two seasons, so, while I'm happy to see the change, I'm not as thrilled as I thought I'd be. I guess it's not easy to swallow the sobering realization that these three men certainly worked hard and poured their entire lives into their jobs, and now they and their families are unemployed. Tough call for anyone to make and a well-documented tough call for Mark Richt. Having said that, I agree 100% that it needed to happen and this is the first step toward restoring Georgia's position among the SEC's elite. Let's take a look at each position:

DC: Martinez was the secondary coach on Mark Richt's original staff in 2001. He has coached 3 All-Americans and 9 All-SEC performers. He was promoted to coordinator in 2005 after the departure of Brian Van Gorder. The defense was largely solid through 2007, but took a step back in 2008 (amid national championship aspirations) and took another one back in 2009. There are certainly many legitimate excuses (injuries, penalties, offensive and special teams turnovers, etc) that can help explain the defense's demise; however, at the end of the day, those are only excuses. Whether right or wrong, the defensive coordinator will be judged by the number on the other side of the scoreboard. And the biggest nail in Willie's coffin is the fact that Georgia ranked DEAD LAST in 2009 in the SEC in points allowed per SEC game at 31.5 (over 2 points worse than the number 11 MissSt team). I'm not going to start speculating on Willie's replacement, but I do think that a critical component of any replacement needs to be a strength in recruiting. Willie recruited well, so we will need the new DC to be able to walk into a recruit's home and satisfy the concerns of that 18 year old and his family.

LB: Jancek, at least from my perspective, has been largely anonymous during his tenure in Athens. I've heard he's a great recruiter, so that will be missed. I think he has certainly been underwhelming at developing linebackers, especially when comparing his work to that of BVG earlier in the decade. I think Curran would be great no matter who the coach, and most of the other talented linebackers have not seemed to reach their full potential. Guys like Ellerbe, Dent, Dewberry, Brandon Miller and Verdun Wheeler all seemed to be perpetually stuck as emerging stars, never actually becoming one. There have been 6 unique guys named to 14 All-SEC teams since Mark Richt's arrival in Athens. From 2001-2004 (under BVG), 3 guys made All-SEC, named to 5 first teams and 3 second teams. From 2005-2008 (under Jancek), 3 guys made All-SEC, named to 1 first team and 5 second teams. In the same number of years, Georgia has not produced the same top-tier SEC linebackers under John Jancek.

DE & Special Teams: Fabris seemed to have it cooking earlier in the decade. From 2001-2005, UGA had 3 All-SEC performers named to 10 All-SEC teams (8 first teamers) and two of those guys (Pollack and Moses) were All-Americans. Since 2006, Charles Johnson is our lone All-SEC performer, making the second team for both the AP and Coaches in 2006. That's right, not 1 All-SEC defensive end since 2006. I have no answers for why the drop off, but clearly, something went terribly wrong. Special teams really have largely been solid during Fabris's tenure, with one glaring exception: kick coverage. UGA has had great kickers (conveniently ignoring Andy Bailey), great punters, solid punt and kick returners, but, for whatever reason, kick-off coverage has been a constant thorn in our side. I truly believe that, more than anything else, kick coverage cost us that LSU game this year. That's a tough pill to swallow, and I do believe the lack of improvement in this facet of the game contributed to Fabris's departure.