Blutarsky highlights a Todd Grantham interview with Chris Low, and a few things jumped out at me from Grantham’s prescription for getting better against the run. The first is this imperative for the defensive line: “We’ve got to play more players up front and keep them fresh.”
Much of the attention given to Rodney Garner’s departure has focused on recruiting, but the change is also an opportunity to take stock of the defensive line, and that includes a look at the rotation. In a discussion about defending the option offense, Rodney Garner gave some insight into his approach to rotating linemen:
Garner has no desire to play a lineman he does not have faith in simply to give one of the regulars a breather.
“Obviously if you’ve got more depth that you can have that’s quality depth that you feel like you can win with and compete with, I think that’s good. But I think people think it’s real easy to play a bunch of people,” Garner said. “Well, the game’s always on the line. People can score like that, so you’re constantly trying to put guys out there that give you a chance to win it, to finish, that you have confidence in…We’re all creatures of habit, so if I’m confident and I know this guy right here’s going to do his assignment, then obviously you want to go with that guy that you know. With such-and-such, ‘Well he’s 50-50,’ you play the odds.”
That makes sense – you don’t want to put a liability out there just for the sake of resting a starter who, even tired, might be the better choice over a fresh reserve. At the same time, Garner was infamous for his “doghouse“, and there’s a difference between “playing the odds” as Garner put it and just not trusting your players. One early thing to watch with new line coach Chris Wilson is whether the defense takes a few more chances with playing reserves. Grantham is the coordinator, but substitution decisions are often left to the position coach. We’ll see if a new position coach is more amenable to Grantham’s vision than the entrenched guy was.